Why Social Media Crushes Email Marketing
Common wisdom hold email marketing in the highest of esteem but does this advice still ring true in an era defined by the growth of social media? Today we are going to explore this often quoted…and increasingly erroneous…bit of advice. Find out how social media marketing is rapidly replacing email marketing as “THE” main method of marketing to online customers as well as tips on when to use which, how to make the necessary transition as seamless as possible and the future trends every business owner needs to know.
Email or social media marketing? If forced to guess which was the biggest bang for the buck, which would you chose? As a social media management firm, we use both on a regular basis so right up front, let’s make it abundantly clear that it is NOT and “either/or” proposition; both have their rightful place. However, it’s not unusual to encounter business owners who have been “sold” on the success of email marketing as the be-all and end-all solution to all their communication campaigns. Is it really that simple or is something missing from the equation? Could so many email marketing pro’s really be wrong? Today we are going to shed some light on this grey area…
Numbers Don’t Lie – or Do They?
The first claim made by email marketing pro’s typically goes something like this…”the numbers don’t lie”. Indeed, it is well established that email has roughly 3x the number of user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined; an estimated eye-popping 2.9 BILLION! Yeah, that IS a lot of users so at first blush, it might superficially appear like email is the clear cut leader. No single social media site comes anywhere near that number…right? Eh…not so fast!
While it is true that there are a lot of email accounts, it’s equally true that nobody has an accurate account of the number of active, viable or REAL accounts. For instance, many people use a hotmail or other freebie email account as a “dump” file when surfing online. It’s one way to filter through spam or sign-up for information without getting bombarded by unwanted messages long after the original information is reviewed. Likewise, fake accounts designed to send spam are also pretty prevalent out there as are other nonsense email alias accounts. In short, there are all kinds of email accounts established for one reason or another which are fake, abandoned or ignored.
But that isn’t the end of the story. How many of you have multiple email accounts? Work, school, home, personal, professional, investment, alumni sites etc…the list is significant and growing. Multiple email accounts are the norm not the exception. Historically the average number of email accounts per person was deemed to be “1.6″. Wow – that certainly sounds authoritative so it must be accurate…right? In fact, that statistic tends to grossly OVER-estimate the average number of email accounts per user. Just take a look at Facebook participants; every Facebook user has at least two email alias…the original used to sign-up for the account and a Facebook extension courtesy of the world’s largest social media site. So, what is the true average number of email accounts per user? Most experts believe it is well above 3 on average with plenty of users having double-digit number of email accounts.
Email Duplicates – Social Spreads!
So, we have already established the fact that multiple email accounts combined with a large number of “fake” or trash accounts means a lot of email simply duplicates effort…or worse…gets lost in the “no zone”. On the other hand, social media tends to spread like wildfire. Users love to share social media and do it in droves. This has the added benefit of reaching entirely new clients rather than those already on your existing (or purchased) list. Now that Facebook and other social media sites are integrating private message options, expect social media to grab an even greater share of the online marketing pie.
Although Facebook is generally considered a more consumer oriented site, plenty of other social networks such as LinkedIn and Google+ have an impressive professional presence. This isn’t good news for email which was once considered “THE” only option for serious business communications. That is rapidly changing as cloud computing, the ability to create compelling work groups, control access and contributions plus a plethora of other options expands the range of professional communications. Email is rapidly starting to look like the poor country mouse in comparison to highly professional solution packages made possible via social media suites.
Advocates of email are right about one area…customers expect to receive discounts and offers via email. Who among us hasn’t experienced the delight of opening an inbox filled with dozens of discount offers from both legitimate and non-legitimate entities? Herein lies the problem; although it is true that people expect to receive discounts and special offers via email, spam has created a more resistant client base. At the same time, research demonstrates that clients are thrilled to receive special offers via social media sites like Twitter and Facebook with the added benefit of not having to sort through spam.
The bottom line for business is this…email marketing and social media marketing both have their place when working with a social media management firm but email is mature while social is still in the growth stage. Remember, it’s important to manage the transition between what is established versus that which is coming down the pipelines in order to maximize results and minimize cost.