It’s an age-old question: are email newsletters or social media sites the better marketing tool? Alright, maybe it’s not an age-old question, but it’s been a popular topic of debate in the online marketing tool for the past couple years (which is ages in internet time).
The casual internet user (who hasn’t looked at recent marketing data) might guess that social media is the more effective tool. After all, it’s the newer, shinier platform, and isn’t everyone on Facebook these days? That same internet user might suggest that newsletters are less effective because email is an outdated platform.
In reality, email marketing isn’t as dead as it’s frequently made out to be. In fact, there’s evidence that it’s still significantly more effective than social media marketing: KISSmetrics reports that despite their popularity, daily Facebook and Twitter posts combined are the equivalent of .2% of the number of emails sent every day, and a recent survey from McKinsey and Co. reveals that email is 40 times more effective than social media when it comes to acquiring customers.
All this is not meant to discredit social media marketing. There are definitely good reasons for your business to be using social media, but to be most effective, you should balance that with email newsletters, too.
Let’s talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms before looking at how you can integrate them both into your marketing strategy.
Social Media: Pros and Cons
- 73% of online adults use social networking sites
- 71% of online adults use Facebook, while 18% use Twitter
- 36% of Americans say social networks have no influence on their purchasing decision, while 47% say Facebook is the marketing platform that has the greatest impact on their purchasing behavior
- 23% of Facebook users check their accounts 5 or more times a day
It should be clear what some of the advantages of social media marketing are based on these numbers. The overwhelming majority of American adults use at least one social media platform, and a significant swath of that population is a truly dedicated audience that checks social media multiple times a day. Social media has turned into a primary mode of communication in our country, and it makes sense for marketers to reach out to consumers where they’re spending a significant amount of their time.
On the other hand, one of the primary disadvantages of marketing on social media is that the audience isn’t always receptive. The average internet user goes on social media sites in order to connect with friends and family, play games, and get news from their favorite sources. Marketing efforts may be viewed as an intrusion, even if your business is just sharing an innocuous update about your new summer line of products.
Newsletters: Pros and Cons
Now let’s turn to some email marketing statistics:
- 85% of Americans use email
- 85% of Internet users worldwide use email
- 44% of email recipients said they made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email
- 74% of American consumers say they prefer to receive commercial communication via email as opposed to other channels like social media
As many people as there are who use social media, there are even more who use email. Most people check their email on a daily basis, often while they’re on the go thanks to mobile devices with internet connectivity. Furthermore, because email is a commonly used platform for marketing, consumers tend to be more primed for promotional content than they are when they’re on social media.
The main downside of email marketing is the sheer volume of emails that the average internet user receives: the average email subscriber receives 416 commercial messages each month, meaning that they’re most likely being picky about what they open and overzealous with what they delete. According to Convince and Convert, 69% of email users will report a message as spam based solely on the subject line.
What all this boils down to is that newsletters can be an effective tool to reach a larger and more willing audience than social media, but your subject line and content need to be well-crafted if you want your message to rise above the slush pile of commercial emails the average user receives.
The Best of Both Worlds
It would be foolish to ignore either social media or email marketing at this point. Different demographics prefer different channels of communication, so you may be better able to reach some consumers through social media and better able to reach others through email newsletters. The best thing you can do is to consistently update your social media pages (ideally once or twice a day) and regularly send out newsletters (at least once a month) in order to show current and potential customers that you’re fully engaged and easy to communicate with online.
And don’t forget—there can be some crossover between your social media marketing and your newsletter. If you share a blog post or video that does particularly well on social media, for example, you can also share this content in your next newsletter and appeal to an even larger audience.