Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: Weighing Your Business Priorities

email marketing, Social Media Marketing

October 12, 2014 by

If you’re here, you probably spend a good chunk of your time reading up on marketing and digital to stay current. Social media marketing certainly feels like the wave of the future; every day there are 10 more reasons to focus your time (and budget) on connecting socially to grow your business. It’s a common topic here on the OMI blog, where there are often tips for getting the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

Related Class: Introduction to Social Media Marketing

But is social really earning its keep at your business? Is it your biggest traffic-pusher, your best lead-converter, your most effective sales-generator? If it is, that’s great. Yet for many businesses, this is just not the case, and without running the numbers, you’ll never know where you fall. Today, a robust social media presence is definitely a requirement for any business – we’re not arguing against that. But you should keep your marketing priorities in line with the ROI they bring you, regardless of what is newest or most on-trend in the marketing world.

Crunching the Numbers

A huge range of studies have examined the value of email vs. social media when it comes to marketing, and while you can split hairs, the overall results show that email still far outpaces social platforms when it comes to getting customers and profits. This summary highlights recent studies with some impressive stats: specifically, that email is roughly 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers, and 3 times more likely to lead to a sale. And when you get that sale – email sales have an average order value 17% higher than those acquired through social media.

email newsletter

What do these numbers mean for you? That depends. Obviously these studies examine a wide range of businesses, and you’re most likely only interested in one business – your own. You’ll need to crunch your own numbers to see how your social media marketing efforts add up when it comes to new leads, website traffic, and sales. Careful work with your website’s analytics, and tools like Facebook’s Insights, can help you determine how your time and efforts are paying off. This is particularly important if you’re paying to ‘promote’ or ‘boost’ your social media posts, since you don’t want to throw money at a strategy that isn’t going to pay off in sales.

Where Social Wins Out

There are also, however, many intangible things that are a lot harder to quantify with numbers, but that you should still consider within your social media strategy. Even if your Facebook page or Twitter account aren’t bringing you new sales, many marketers (including this one) would still argue that your social media presence has major value.

Today, those searching online (your potential customers) assume that you’ll have a page on Facebook, a location on Google+, and a social presence that they can look over. You won’t be able to quantify it, but it might very well be that your winning Facebook page and genuine tweets helped them feel a sense of trust and reliability, which somewhere down the line (a day, a week, 6 months later) brought them to your webshop or your brick-and-mortar business.

social marketing

Because social media humanizes your business and connects you personally with potential leads and customers, it will never truly be a waste of your time and effort. But all the same, you may never be able to track these social media victories, and might not even have a comment or like to let you know you’re doing well online.

What Does This Mean for Your Priorities?

Once you’ve run the numbers, you should have a better idea of where your best ROI is coming from – and whether your time and efforts reflect that ranking, or not. If your social media presence is sucking up a lot of your valuable time, or requires too much attention from your in-house team, then you should reconsider whether the time is paying off in sales and new customers. Of course, dropping it altogether isn’t really an option, but scaling back the frequency with which you update, post or tweet could help you manage time and improve quality.

Related Class: Tracking and Measuring Email Marketing Results

On the other side of the equation, you should make sure that you’re giving email marketing the attention it deserves. Every email you send is reaching a targeted, interested person (more than you can say for a Facebook post), and you can deliver great content straight to them. If you’re doing a monthly email newsletter, that’s great – but do the numbers show that a biweekly newsletter would drive more sales? Or, try rolling out triggered emails when customers visit your site, or if they haven’t purchased anything in 6 months. A little A/B testing will go a long way, so you can tell how your email efforts are paying off.

Stay tuned for my next post exploring the topic of content channels, and how different channels like email, Facebook and Twitter should be used in ways that play to their strengths, instead of a one size fits all approach.

In the meantime, explore the practical aspects with this class, Measuring the Value of Social Media Using Simple Analytics. You’ll learn how to accurately measure social media traffic to your website, calculate engagement metrics, and much more.

Your evolution starts here. Try our classes for free.10 day free trial

10 day free trial