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Beware Of Shiny Objects: Why Email Marketing Trumps Social Media

To acquire customers, does your marketing focus more on social media than email? Consider this: Email is 40 times more effective than social media. 


Social media tends to suck all the oxygen out of the room. Long after email marketing was a staple of most marketer's toolkits, social media as a marketing tactic burst on to the scene and continues to dominate the attention of marketers.

And with good reason. Social media has transformed how people interact with each other. It has changed how organizations and even governments behave. Social media is always changing and improving. And social media companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter garner a lot of media attention.

Because of this, social media as a marketing tactic tends to get more attention. Like a shiny object. And that’s too bad, because it distracts some marketers from giving more priority to other tactics, particularly email marketing.

Social media is an excellent way to share your content and extend your reach, but it’s generally only going to be seen when your fans and followers are engaged in social media and happen to see it in the passing parade.

But email can break through to every subscriber.

Compared to social media, many people think of email marketing as old news. And worse, email marketing brings to mind email spammers. You know, those princes of darkness who buy email lists scraped from the Internet and then blast them out, with most of their messages ending up in spam folders.

But the truth is that email marketing is enormously effective. And popular.

Facts And Figures About Email Marketing

  1. There are more than 3.8 billion email accounts today.
  2. 95% of online consumers use email; 91% check email at least once a day.
  3. Email has a longer lifespan than social media.
  4. 77% of consumers prefer email for marketing communications.
  5. Email lets you be highly personal.
  6. Email marketing has an ROI of 4300%.
  7. 76% of marketers use email more than 3 years ago
Source: Radicati (1) Exact Target (2) Direct Marketing Association (4,6,7)


McKinsey reports that email is about 40 times better at customer acquisition than social media.

Email marketing vs social media
Why is email so much better at customer acquisition than social media? Because smart marketers are using it effectively. Instead of spamming everyone on their list with batch-and-blast generic messages, they are guiding customers along their buying journey with helpful, personalized communication.

Email marketing is the connective tissue of Internet marketing. Here's why:

1. Email Drives Increased Website Visitors

People enjoy sharing content they like. You see it on social media all the time, but the original “share” was email being forwarded. When you segment your email addresses and then send them relevant, interesting content, they are more likely to forward that to their friends and colleagues. That is how you can reach a completely new audience, driving more visitors to your website.

2. Email Helps Convert Website Visitors Into Leads

When a lead forwards your email to someone, you gain the power of social proof. People trust people they know. They want to hear from their friends before they want to hear from your company. So when you encourage referrals from existing leads, it helps you generate new ones.

3. Email Helps Nurture Leads Into Customers

This is where you send emails to leads that, over time, guide them toward an informed purchase and, hopefully, become a customer. But it’s all about sending the right email to the right audience. When you segment and then tailor emails to each lead, they will be more engaged. It becomes more of a one-on-one conversation than an email blast.

But the key word is “nurture.” Use email to build a relationship with leads by providing useful information that helps them do their job better. That will make them more open to speaking with your sales team at some point in the future.

4. Email Helps Deepen Your Relationship With Customers

Have you ever heard it’s less expensive to keep a customer than to get a new one? It’s true. Unfortunately, many companies ignore their customers once the sale is closed.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Use email to check in with your customers and provide helpful resources, special customer-only extras and basically show your appreciation for them being a customer. You’ll find that this strengthens relationships and enables you to upsell other products and services, and reduce customer churn.


The relationship between email marketing and social media is like the relationship between a freezer and a microwave. They are both appliances, but very different. However, they work beautifully together. The same is true with email marketing and social media. But before investing a lot of time and money in building a social media program, first make sure you’re getting the most of your email marketing efforts.

photo credit: greaterlansingcvb via photopin cc
Douglas Burdett
Douglas Burdett
The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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