Social media–it pervades our lives, from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter and more. And the impact of social media on marketing has been equally pervasive, to the point that it’s nearly impossible to fully comprehend. Yet, that doesn’t mean social media marketing replaces traditional marketing methods. For all the bling and bang of these social superstars, there’s still a marketing channel that trumps them all: email.
Sure, social is sexy and email is, well, email. But in the end, isn’t the ROI what matters most? In the end, would you rather have more fans on Facebook or sales on your spreadsheet?
Businesses that want to prosper choose sales, and that’s why email still reigns over social as an effective and profitable marketing channel, especially in the enterprise email space. For one thing, email is simply more popular. Despite the constant media hoopla around social media, more people use email. Secondly, people prefer email as a marketing channel. And finally, email offers accountability unmatched by social media, especially in the enterprise email marketing space.
More people use email
Does it surprise you to learn 94% of Internet users check email? It is the most popular online activity, and keep in mind, it’s one of the few that’s done for both work and personal purposes. (You might say using search engines, the second most popular activity at 83%, is also used in both worlds, and even getting the news at 75%, but I suspect email is the only online activity that is so predominately used in both our personal and professional lives.)
On the other hand, only 61% of Internet users spend time on online social networking sites, and few people need to be using social media as part of their work days.
Email is also the top activity on mobile devices. According to this useful infographic by HostPapa.com that pulls together email vs. social stats, 55% of people check their personal email on their mobile devices, compared to only 36% of people accessing social media via their mobile devices and smart phones.
People prefer email
In addition to looking at the volume of people using email vs. social, we have to look at how people use these different media too. When compared to social media, 75% of all adults would rather get marketing messages via email. And the time they spend with commercial email (i.e. the email marketing that we’re talking about) almost doubled from 2005 (17%) to 2011 (30%). Consumers are tired of cluttered inboxes and irrelevant emails to be sure, but they still recognize and respond to the relevant ones, and ISPs are catering to the cluttered inbox by filtering out messages from senders that fail to engage. The increase in commercial email engagement indicates consumers are accustomed to getting marketing messages via their inboxes.
Marketers should prefer email too. A successful marketer simply must be able to segment audiences and target messages in a way not possible with social media. This is particularly the case in enterprise email marketing where huge lists or complex email marketing strategies demand capabilities far beyond what social media can offer.
Email is accountable
Email also trumps social because it is so traceable and actionable via email analytics. Email reporting provides an insight that a marketer can act on immediately or eventually depending on the need. Along with that email analysis, email marketing allows for a degree of testing social media can’t match, with means the ability to continually optimize. This is especially true of enterprise email marketing, where the capabilities and traceability of email marketing can’t be beat by social media. Those in enterprise email marketing need the sophisticated features and the insight that only in-depth email analysis can deliver.
All that said, I doubt anyone is giving up their social media to devote all resources to email marketing. But it’s important to know what really works so limited marketing dollars are invested wisely—based on facts, not fans.