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February 6, 2014

E-mail Marketing Beats Social Media 40 to 1

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.


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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.

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