Analysis: Email Marketing and Social Media

By: Kevin Gao, CEO & Founder of Comm100

Social media have become an important part of the internet and online marketing landscape in the last decade. How do social media impact email marketing, and is email marketing still relevant in a world full of social networks? In this section, we analyze email marketing and social media and explain why email marketing is more important than ever in a socially-networked landscape.

MySpace. Facebook. Twitter. Google Plus. There are an increasing number of social media networks that, at one time or another, dominated internet traffic. Of course, marketing via social media has increased too, which is an obvious necessity since so many consumers and customers spend so much time on social media sites. Does it make sense for you to allocate all of your marketing resources to social media? No! Email marketing is still a very important part of any complete web marketing strategy. Of course, in the socially-networked world, you'll need to combine your email marketing and social media marketing strategies together to meet different goals. Here are some tips and advice on how and why to merge email marketing and social media strategies.

Email Marketing Still Provides the Highest Return on Investment

Email Marketing and Social Media

The reality is that everybody from comScore to Marketing Vox have run studies and surveys of top marketers and one statistic remains true – no matter how big the social media networks have gotten, email marketing still returns the greatest return on investment. This makes sense when you think about how little overhead or time it can take to send an extremely targeted email to a very specific group of customers or users. If for no other reason than because you are a smart business person who appreciates the importance of a strong ROI number, email marketing should be at the top of your list of important direct sales and marketing communications channels.

Consumers and Users Do Not Switch Email Addresses – But They Do Migrate Social Media

Do you remember MySpace? What? You don't? But that was just a handful of years ago when MySpace was the most popular destination on the internet (other than Google) and everybody had a MySpace profile and spent hours every day on the dominant social media site. Then, of course, Facebook arrived and became wildly more popular. At the time of this writing, it seems unthinkable that anything would take over Facebook's position, but it's entirely possible that, by the time that you read this, Google Plus will be the social network that everybody spends all of their time on. If there is one thing that seems to be true of social media, it is that users will eventually migrate to another social network.

That, however, is not true of email addresses. Certainly, sometimes people change their email address. But more frequently they simply add a secondary email address and use their older email address less often or for different purposes. The reason that Hotmail remains the largest web-based email service in the world is because it is the oldest, and, even if they don't check it daily, most people still check their old Hotmail address at least periodically.

An email address isn't as permanent as a postal address, but once you have a customer's email address, you have a fairly assured way of getting a message in front of that customer. Changing email addresses is cumbersome. You need to notify all of the people whom you email with regularly and you lose what is often an emotional email history. Unlike social media, which have so far proven to be transient at best, an email address is an almost assured way to be able to reach most customers or users eventually if not immediately.

Messages Do Not Disappear from Inboxes

Email Marketing and Social Media: Inboxes

Once you send an email marketing message to a consumer, customer or user, that message remains in that individual's email inbox until the individual either reads it or actively chooses to delete it. That means that even if the user hasn't read the email, your email subject line is still there in the inbox reminding the user of their relationship with your brand. A message on a social media is not permanent. Once you post a message, you are reliant on your user or consumer being logged into the social media in a time frame that allows them to see the posting. No matter how many times per day your business updates Facebook or Twitter, you may not get the message across to a large group of your desired consumers. However, whether it's actually read or not, email gets to your user or customer and reminds them of their relationship with you.

Email Marketing is Targeted while Social Media is "One Size Fits All"

The nature of social media is to protect a certain degree of privacy. Additionally, people do not always provide the most truthful information about themselves on a social media network. However, your email marketing database contains information that allows you to segment and target communications based on facts such as purchasing history, gender, age, and even geographic location. The most effective marketing messages are the most targeted marketing messages. Social media and social networks do not allow you to target messages effectively.

Social Media is a Brand Engagement Tool, Not a Direct Sales Tool.

At the heart of the matter, however, is the role of social media in your marketing strategy. Most marketing experts agree on one thing – social media is a branding tool, not a direct sales tool. A great part of the reason that email marketing continues to deliver the highest return on investment of all marketing channels is that how users behave on social media networks does not translate into direct sales. Social media users gather information and discuss products, they don't necessarily buy products. Social media is important for brand engagement. It is not, however, typically a direct sales channel like email marketing is.

Email Marketing and Social Media Need to Work Together

Any good marketing plan is a comprehensive marketing plan. That means that your email marketing and social mediaplatform should work together. There should be opportunities for users to share email contents via social media networks and opportunities for users to join your email marketing list via social media. One strategy does not mean that the other strategy doesn't need to exist. However, the existence of social media networks certainly does not take away the need for a strong email marketing program and strategy!

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