Social Seems Sexy, But Email Equals Sales

Thinking Social vs. EmailEmail marketers are used to numbers…lots of numbers. That’s because numbers matter in email. How many people are on your list? What was your email deliverability rate on that last campaign? How many were opened? How many click throughs? How many conversions? Unsubscribes? Forwards? Spam complaints? Numbers are so core to email, there’s even a book called Email Marketing by the Numbers.

Yet some numbers can be misleading. They can make you think maybe email isn’t the place to be any longer, that it’s maybe old school and your marketing money would be better spent elsewhere where there’s buzz, say on social media.

Don’t be misled. Sure, email has been around for a lot longer than social media, but email still reigns supreme in 2013. Email marketing is still the king of ROI. And when you’re looking at the numbers, you want to be sure you keep your eye on that one, because it’s the one that matters most.

Still you must know how to really measure the effectiveness of that email marketing tool. To illustrate our point, here are three examples of email marketing by the numbers. It all depends on how you look at them. The key is to dig deep enough to see the numbers that really matter.

Website traffic vs. website conversions
Email is one of lowest drivers of traffic to B2B websites at .8%. The winners? Organic search is highest at 41% and direct traffic comes in second at 40%. Email is only a tiny fraction of the first two percentage wise.

But—and this is a big but—email has the highest conversion rate at 2.89%. And by highest conversion rate, we mean compared to all other sources of website traffic. That’s even higher than referrals which are the #3 driver of traffic to a B2B website.

If you looked at the first number, .8%, you’d think poorly of email as an online marketing tool. You have to dig deeper to see where it scores sales…more sales than any other driver.

Facebook users vs. email users
Facebook gets a lot of attention due to sheer numbers. After all, when people can say your user base adds up to the third largest population on the planet, that’s saying something! But dig deeper and you’ll find only 66% of online adults use Facebook. Even with the rapidly growing popularity of Pinterest, you’ll find only 12% of online adults there.

Yet 85% of online adults use email. That’s 19% more than use Facebook. How’s that for a number?

Social ROI vs. email ROI
Comparing the number of Facebook users to email users is the perfect segue into our last number: ROI. As sexy as social is, as shiny and glittery and attention getting as sites like Pinterest and YouTube, nothing beats email for ROI.


In 2012, email delivered $39.40 in sales per dollar of advertising, followed by $22.38 by search, $19.71 from Internet display ads, and $12.90 from social networks. That makes email marketing’s ROI almost double that of the #2 (search) and #3 (ads) sources for sales.

Yes, email is all about the numbers, and even when you see small ones, you must dig deeper to find the numbers that matter. Quality counts more than quantity. Because social might be sexy, but email equals sales.

About Marco Marini

Marco Marini has been at the forefront of email marketing since its inception as a channel. Prior to co-founding ClickMail, Marco developed pioneering email campaigns for CyberSource, eHealthInsurance, DoveBid and IBM Canada while holding key marketing roles in those organizations. Through his experience on both sides of the email marketing table--client and agency--Marco has developed significant expertise in using email to its full potential to generate substantial return on investment for marketers, management and investors. As CEO at ClickMail, Marco’s main focus is defining the company’s strategy. However, he also spends time advising clients on how to leverage enterprise-level ESP technology as a primary engine for business growth. His expertise in every aspect of email enables Marco to guide clients and ClickMail’s internal teams to develop sophisticated campaigns that employ best-in-class strategies, overcome technical hurdles, and meet business objectives. Marco was born in Canada and grew up in Italy. He and his wife are the parents of four children. He is active in the Silicon Valley Italian Executives Council and is on the Northern California board of Stop Hunger Now.

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