Email Marketing continues to prove its value on a regular basis. When a brand sends an Email they know who opened, clicked, purchased, even down to what they purchased. This data helps in developing targeted Email segmentation plans. Does this mean Email Marketing is easy? If you are doing batch and blast it can appear easy but Email is complex when done right. However, the payoff is worth the effort. Some people believe that Social is easier since in real time you can post content and get instant likes. But is this really the same thing?
Social vs. Email? Email vs. Social? Do I need to be on Social media? I have a great Social media following so I don’t need to do Email. Will Social replace Email? These are the questions and comments I hear frequently, and I find that I am often needing to defend Email as a channel. I’ve been in Email a long time. I remember Email Marketing before Social was even a “thing”… I’m not going tell you how one is better than the other. Email Marketing doesn’t need to be defended as a channel. I’ve spent almost my entire career in Email Marketing (as have many people I know) so clearly, we don’t think Social will replace it. Email Marketing proves itself year over year as a channel. About 58% of marketers report increasing spending on the Email channel and for every $1 that is spent on Email the average ROI is $38. Instead, I want to shift the conversation to how both of these channels are critical to any business Marketing plan and how they can work together.
When Social first launched, marketers and brands were concerned about content development for this new channel. Would they have enough content? How would Social and Email work together? Could they utilize Email content for Social? It was the unknown very similar to how Email was the unknown just a few years before. We started with the ability to literally share a link to your Email on Facebook so that solved the immediate content problem. Thankfully, now we realize that content needs to be developed for multiple Marketing channels. Fast forward to today….
When you want to get a brand out there you need to cast a wide net. You want to be everywhere that a potential customer might be. That could be Social, Email, Display, etc. Email remains the most valuable tool we have for targeting specific customers. Social remains one of the best ways to build brand awareness. If people are truly “followers” of your brand, they will follow you on Social and sign up for your Email. This means that you want to encourage your followers to join your Email list and you want to encourage your Email subscribers to follow you on Social.
What I want to be clear about is that you can’t substitute Social for Email and expect the same results. You can’t assume that everyone who follows you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. is an actual customer who will generate sales. I actually had a client whose top commenter on Instagram didn’t even live in a state where they could purchase from one of their stores (they don’t sell online). Yes, I know you can’t assume that your entire Email list lives in a place where they can purchase your product either, but Email is a very different customer relationship. When someone provides you with an Email address they are saying “I like you… I want to hear from you”. Email is a direct 1:1 conversation.
In January of this year, Facebook announced a change in algorithms that would prioritize newsfeeds to show more content from friends vs. brands. This is going to make it much harder for brands to organically reach potential customers and even be seen by current followers. I see this with my own Social promotions already. Brands who have an audience that is highly engaged with the content might not experience the same impact, but it is becoming harder and Email is probably the best way to ensure that your Facebook followers are engaged with your content.
A recent article I read indicated that with these new algorithm changes to Facebook, less than 6% of your followers will see a post that you publish. That statistic indicates that we need to utilize Email even more. If you had an open rate for an Email campaign that was only 6% I can only image the conversations that would take place. You would be in meetings to discuss deliverability issues till all hours of the night. Thankfully open rates for Email remain strong and are north of 21% (even higher when you are utilizing targeted segmentation).
I currently work with a brand that has close to 5,000 Email subscribers and over 8,000 followers on both Facebook and Instagram. The engagement rates (so likes & shares) on Social is about 1%. For Email the engagement rate is over 30%. When we look at the 8,000 Social followers we don’t necessarily know how many of them are customers. For the Email channel, we know that 83% of the subscribers are actual customers. We know the specific ROI that is being generated from each Email deployment. Beyond that, we know which segment is driving the most revenue and which segment we need to re-engage. The ROI on Social is harder to determine. Does this mean they should abandon their Social Marketing? Definitely not!
What if we could take that 83% and turn even 20% of them into followers on Social media? What if even a small percentage of the 20% started sharing content on Social media with their friends? What if some of those “friends” signed up for this brand’s Email list and became a customer? Yes, I know I am talking about an ideal, but if this could happen, and I believe it could, Social media would be incredibly powerful and would increase revenue for this brand and would tell the story of how Email and Social truly work together. Knowing that Email’s ROI is 3 times higher than Social, I wonder why more brands don’t try to utilize Social as a way to grow their Email list.
Social vs. Email? Email vs. Social? The conversation today needs to be Social & Email. They both help each other grow loyalty but in different ways. Email is and probably always will be my favorite channel. However, I understand the importance of both and I hope that all brands do too. We need to have the understanding that one channel doesn’t replace the other. We should start looking at how these channels can best work together to increase a brand’s revenue and customer loyalty. In the digital space we talk about marketing always being about right message, right time, right channel so in thinking of that we know that there is a place for both Social and Email to play well together.