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February 6, 2014

E-mail Marketing Beats Social Media 40 to 1

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles)/

There has been huge buzz around social media marketing for several years now, and rightly so — there is no doubt that social media is a very important marketing channel for most businesses.

In Social Media Examiner’s 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 89 percent of marketers indicated that their social media marketing efforts had increased their brand’s exposure, while 75 percent said it had increased their website traffic. In addition, 65 percent said social media had helped to grow loyal customers, while 61 percent said social media marketing had helped generate sales leads.

In addition, social media’s importance as a marketing channel is only likely to grow:

  • 69 percent of marketers plan to increase their use of YouTube for marketing purposes;
  • 66 percent plan to increase their Facebook marketing activities;
  • A further 66 percent plan to begin blogging or increase their frequency of blogging;
  • 65 percent  plan to increase their LinkedIn marketing activities;
  • 64 percent plan to increase their use of Twitter.

However, social media marketing can be a time consuming activity, and recent research by McKinsey highlights the fact that increased social media marketing activity should not come at the expense of e-mail marketing. While attention must be given to maintaining social media accounts and engaging with customers and prospects on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc, the McKinsey report suggests the effectiveness of e-mail marketing still trumps social media marketing:

  • E-mail marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers;
  • Marketing e-mails are three times more likely to result in a transaction than social media;
  • Transactions resulting from e-mail marketing are on average 17 percent higher than transactions resulting from social media interactions.

The reason for e-mail marketing’s continued effectiveness? ‘Permission marketing’

Seth Godin may have written Permission Marketing 15 years ago, but his point still stands — an e-mail marketing mailing list is only valuable if you have permission to e-mail the recipients, but once they give you that permission it makes the recipients much more receptive to what you have to say.

Social media is growing in importance and shouldn’t be neglected, but marketers should remember that e-mail marketing remains an incredibly effective marketing channel, and that is not likely to change any time soon. If anything, e-mail marketing is likely to become even more important as the popularity of smartphones means inboxes are instantly and constantly accessible.


Philip Hoey is a marketing professional based in London, U.K. He is senior account manager for Caxton FX and Marketing Manager for Victoria Mae Designs.

7 Responses to “E-mail Marketing Beats Social Media 40 to 1

    Hi Philip, you’ve raised a very good point here. Social media marketing is great, but understandably, communicating with an audience that has already signaled their interest by giving you permission to email them is bound to be very effective. This is also why once your social media audience is engaged, getting them into a subscriber list should be one of your social media conversion goals. Too many social media “marketers” seem to miss the point of social engagement and never establish actual goals for their campaign.

    avatar SEO firm in India says:

    Email marketing cost is not so much high and gives ROI very good but in case of branding I prefer social media platform. But a charming subject title of a mail in inbox automatically attracts user to open it and read it.

    avatar Philip Hoey says:

    Thanks for your comments Perry. You’re absolutely right, social media is a great place to begin the conversation, but convincing your social media audience to join your email subscriber list should not be overlooked, as email marketing gives you an opportunity to deepen the conversation and increase engagement, which can in turn drive more sales.

    Thanks for reading.

    avatar Hamizan says:

    The role and benefits of social media and e-mail marketing can not be taken lightly seems to do marketing in the online world

    avatar Joe Zhai says:

    It is an overturning finding, isn’t it?

    avatar Lisa Smith says:

    Both have their high importance, depend on you how effectively you use it to get maximum benefit. If you have valuable subscribers list then nothing better than the email marketing.

    I think social media is best way to promote your business site.

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