Gone are the days when people received cold calls from a company’s sales team regarding their new offers. Today, marketing and sales teams everywhere understand that randomly dialing up a phone number will no longer cut it. Such cold calls were irritating even then, now they’ve just become unacceptable.
With the dynamic shift in the perception of consumers, the approach for marketing also took a giant leap. More and more companies are investing in online marketing campaigns. Going online makes it convenient for them to communicate with their existing customers as well as scout potential customers.
The touch-points of consumers, where a brand can interact with them, have changed. It has become imperative for brands to identify these new touch-points and cash in on them. Given the digital footprint of online users, it has become rather easy to recognize prospective leads and convert them into buyers.
Online marketing has brought both the sellers as well as the buyers under a single niche of the internet. The two major channels for online marketing are – social media marketing or email marketing. Despite being a part of online marketing, they are both as different as chalk and cheese. The approach of people also differs toward both the mediums.
While email marketing has been around for quite some time, social media marketing is relatively new. Both methods have their advantages as well as disadvantages. But, the question is- With the ever-growing popularity of social media, has email marketing become redundant?
To give you a better answer, here is a comparison to prove which one is better, social media marketing or email marketing?
But first, let’s understand what each of the methods is:
Technically, any message sent over an email to an existing or potential customer for commercial purposes can be regarded as email marketing. Email marketing has been around since the beginning of the century and has a more formal touch to it. Emails are used worldwide as the primary mode of professional communication, and will mostly remain so for the coming years as well.
Social Media Marketing
Who isn’t aware of social media channels today? Social media has revolutionized the way people socialize. Well, hence the name. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn are the big players in the game. Social media marketing is about employing such platforms to advertise a product or service to the target audience.
Social media Marketing or Email Marketing:
1. Basics first – The lower age limit for the users
Social media-Almost all the social media platforms need the person to be of at least 13 years old to be able to create an account. However, this doesn’t stop the underage kids to engage on social media by falsely declaring their age.
As per an Ofcom’s report, about 46-51% of kids aged 11 and 12 have their social media accounts, while nearly 28% of the 10-year-olds are active on such platforms.
Email- Although the email browsers also restrict the age to 13, it has the provision for the parents to monitor the account in case the child is below the age limit. Also, the kids among the age group of 13-17 do not receive any commercial or promotional emails.
There is no upper age limit. The main purpose of setting an age limit is to protect underage children from toxic exposure. In a way, it hinders one’s marketing strategy if the target user is of the restricted age group. However, it is necessary to ensure the safety and privacy of kids.
2. Number of active users
Social media- Statistically, out of the total world population of 7.6 Billion, there are 4.2 billion active internet users. There were a total of 3.4 billion active users combined of all social media platforms by the end of 2018. Data says a new user is joining a social media site every 15 seconds.
Email- By the end of 2018, the count of email users all over the world reached more than 3.8 billion, while hundreds of billions of messages are sent via email every day.
They say that numbers don’t lie. But, in this case, they do. To have a hundred Facebook followers and to have a hundred Email subscribers is not the same thing. Multiple fake profiles do not get accounted for by Facebook algorithms. The inactive emails, as well as social media users, can be identified but it is hard to find fake profiles if they’re being actively used.
3. Method of Audience engagement
Social Media- This is the platform where the marketers can have their fun. With the hashtags, live video options, stories, internet challenges (remember the Kiki challenge?), there are a plethora of options for them to choose from and decide how they want to engage with their audience. The ‘like’, ‘comment’, ‘retweet’, and ‘share’ buttons allow the audience to connect with their marketers in real-time. This also enables advertisers to determine whether their campaign is working or not.
Email- This is the white-collar brother of social media. Emails can be used to inform subscribers about new products, offers, sales, and upcoming events. They also prove to be a meticulous way of staying in touch with serious customers through regular newsletters and blog posts. Here, the subscribers do not want the marketers to be casual and fun. In fact, they expect them to be professional in their tone and approach.
The ultimate goal of marketing is to generate sales and that is what you would anticipate for both your social media and email marketing campaign to do. But, be careful while approaching your audience. The methods are different and audience expectations are different on both the platforms.
While it is completely acceptable to throw a mechanized sales pitch via email, the same might irritate the followers, leading to ‘unfollows’. You are allowed to be direct in the email marketing campaigns while you have to be more subtle, more sophisticated while designing your social media campaign.
4. Audience reach and click rates
Social Media- The complex algorithms of social media newsfeed limit the reach of your posts. Only about 6% of your followers will have your post organically appear on their newsfeed. Others might never see it. Social media platforms also lack in terms of click rates. The posts often get overlooked as users tend to casually scroll through their newsfeed unless something catches their attention.
Email- Statistics says that out of your entire email list, around 20-50% of your subscribers will see your message. This means more click rates, higher engagement, and effective conversions. People are more likely to click on the links to your blogs, websites, and affiliations if they receive it over email.
With high click rates, email becomes a more reliable and credible option for marketers to reach out to their prospects. While social media is a great way for a light-hearted, fun engagement with the audience, email is more grounded and business-centric.
Social Media- All social media platforms have their community guidelines, ownership agreements, and privacy policies in place. Such rules dictate that the concerned social media channel can either suspend or terminate a user’s account at its sole discretion. A user does not have ownership of their own social media account.
Imagine having worked hard for building your follower base from zero to a couple million by investing your valuable time and money, only to have it suspended by the social network one fine morning, with or without any valid reason. What could be more frustrating than that? Everything that you built disappears in a matter of seconds.
Email- Emails are safe and stable. The users have complete ownership over their email account. However, an account may get suspended after a long, really long, period of inactivity. This should not be an issue for enthusiastic marketers as they will surely be using their account quite frequently if they want to produce leads.
In a way, having a social media account is like sitting on a volcano. You can never know when it might erupt. The non-ownership of the accounts is a huge con of the social network. The complete possession over an email account again gives an email marketing advantage over social media marketing.
6. Return on Investments (ROIs)
Social Media- Social media marketing demands determination, like every other marketing channel. But, it also requires money. Outsourcing a social media marketing campaign may cost you anywhere from $4000-$7000. Although you can always choose to strategize the campaign in-house, it will consume time and require undeviating dedication.
This is why, most of the marketers opt for automation tools to ensure higher visibility, strategic ad placement, and timely content sharing. This again demands money. However, the return on these investments is relatively low.
Email- As per reports, Email marketing has an average ROI of 122%. It is inexpensive at only about $1000 per month and generates impressive results. Deployment of tools is imperative for sifting through email lists, segregating customers, producing templates, and identifying dead emails to ensure that the right message is sent to the right people. Shelling $1000 for such tools seems reasonable for the value for money obtained through email marketing campaigns.
In the end, everything boils down to the ROI. More return, better value. Undeniably, higher ROI brings email marketing in the winning bracket.
Based on the factors stated above, one can easily argue that email marketing is definitely a better choice. As a matter of fact, email is the preferred channel amongst marketers. Reports show that nearly 35% of marketers favor email marketing when it comes to running a serious campaign. Social media comes a close second as the choice of about 34% of marketers. Email marketing is the one that prevails.
With higher penetration capabilities, email marketing surpasses social media marketing in every way. Numbers have certainly placed the crown on the head of email marketing. But…yes, there is a but!
Social media and email vary from each other in a number of ways. Despite their differences, they both serve the same purpose of marketing and customer acquisition. The objective of brands is to generate leads through calculated advertising campaigns, and ultimately obtain new customers while retaining the existing ones. Each marketing platform has a unique way of helping brands in achieving these goals.
The message sent via email about a new launch, season sales, and discount offers reflects the business persona of a brand. A newsletter received over email informs and educates the reader of the professional growth of the brand. Emails are the conventional stage where trading shines in the center.
Social media, on the other hand, humanizes a brand. It gives a face, an emotion to the brand and brings it out for the entire world to see. The social media channels let the customers interact with the brands on a day-to-day basis. They offer an open floor to the customers to voice their praises, concerns, and complaints.
Spread the word about your business over the social network. Use social media platforms to initiate a dialogue with your prospects. Lure them, impress them, make them aware of your brand and brand offerings. Align your social media campaign with your brand’s message and design your posts accordingly. Keep it bouncy. Show your audience the heart that goes into building your brand. Social media is where you can build a perception in your audience’s mind.
You’ll have to keep a straight face in your emails and make the sale. You are allowed to have fun on the emails too. Bu too much of it, and your readers won’t take you seriously.
You can weigh up numbers and draw charts on email marketing vs. social media marketing, just for the sake of it. But, you cannot compare apples and oranges, now can you? A proper, calculated amalgamation of both social media marketing and email marketing is the best way to go. Include them both in your marketing mix to derive optimal results.
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