Email Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Which One’s Best for You?

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Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing are two of the important components of digital marketing. Email boomed in the 1990s, has stood the test of time, and to date, is still preferred by marketers for direct marketing. In fact, in the B2B space, around 86% of business professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes (via HubSpot), 59% count email as their most effective channel in terms of revenue generation (Myemma), and nearly nine out of every ten marketers use email marketing to distribute content organically. Hence, it would be right to say that email marketing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

On the other hand, a decade late to the party, social media has conquered the current digital world. With the vast availability of the internet and smart handheld devices, social media has taken the digital world by storm and has caught the keen eyes of marketers. An average of three hours is spent by a person per day on social networks and messaging, as per Globalwebindex, 2019. Emarketer, in 2019, also categorized the users on social media as 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers. As our reliance on digital media continues to grow, social media is too going to stay with us for a long time.

So if both mediums are great which one should you choose? Would it be a good idea to pick a side or favor one over the other? Or it would be better to create a balance between the two? Let’s compare the dynamics of the two and find out which side should you choose.

The Dynamics of Audience

Individual vs masses. That’s the difference in audience dynamic between email marketing and social media marketing. Practically people of every age group use email. However, the use of social media varies by age, platform, and demographics. Have a look at Facebook’s demographic data for the US:

  • 73% of those living in an urban area use Facebook
  • 69% of those living in a suburban area use Facebook
  • 66% of those living in a rural area use Facebook

While every person has an email, it very unlikely that they also have a social media profile. That too in diverse platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. However, it would be a good chance that person is on Facebook as it has an impressive 2.7 billion monthly active users.

Hence, you will have to consider your audience before prioritizing a channel.

The Dynamics of Growth

In its initial days, social media had the ability to broadcast your message to thousands of people and grow organically. However, as time passed by, this growth got locked behind a paywall. The social media platforms went for cash to prioritize content. You have a pay a significant amount to reach a specific audience and impressions. While there are still slight chances of organic growth, without hefty investment, there would be no reach, and consequently no engagements.

In contrast, your email growth depends on your email list, which is entirely yours. You have the will to email them at your own pace and time. There are no social media algorithms, no paywall, although you might have to invest in some automation or CRMs for the integration and collection of data. The factors where email marketing struggles are; deliveries (15% of email never reach recipients), personalization (74% of people hate irrelevant emails), content quality (47% of people open an email solely on the subject line), amongst others.

You have to consider your growth perspective before diving into a channel. Within the evolving digital world, who knows what social media have in store for us, but email marketing has the power of staying longer.

The Dynamics of Revenue

Social media marketing has the potential to influence people on decision-making processes whether they are shopping, seeking tips on health/products, and many other things. Another powerful feature of social media is to viral things, even silly ones. The content of social media can be shared uncountable times before it spreads all over the world. While social media does not bring in revenue directly, it still plays an important role.

Marketers will attest to the fact that nothing is better than email when it comes to digital marketing channels. It is reported that every email has the highest return on investment (ROI) with an average of $42 for every dollar spent. Statista also notes that marketers find more ROI using email than organic or paid social. However, it just can be sent to prospects and subscribers, or can even be forwarded. There’s likely any chance of getting your email going viral.

The Dynamics of Content

There is a vast difference between the content of both platforms. Social media favors those who keep their content quick, short, and straight to the point. Microsoft conducted a study two decades earlier where the attention span of an average person was 12 seconds. Fifteen years down the line, it dropped to eight seconds. One-to-two minute mark videos, memes, striking images have become the core part of social media. Users don’t stick around social media for lengthy content.

However, email grants you the ability to customize, write lengthier, engaging copy without worrying too much about the customers’ attention span. They are likely to read the contents of the email as they have time to see their emails. No matter if it is an informational, promotional, full-length newsletter, subscribers/prospects do ingest the content of your email.

Which One to Choose?

The answer lies in the ability to used both in tandem. They both should be a part of your digital marketing strategy. You just have to find a time and place for both these channels. If your prospects react to lengthy content and prioritize communication, reach out to them via email. If they want quick and prompt responses, use social media to engage them. When used collectively, both email marketing and social media marketing can be an unstoppable force in your digital marketing arsenal.

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