Email marketing in the age of social media
September 8, 2016
Which is better: email or social? Columnist Scott Heimes explains why it doesn't have to be one or the other; your email marketing and social media efforts should go hand in hand.
Social media has firmly cemented its place as a vital marketing tool and has evolved to be much more than just a platform for posting photos and sharing life updates. At the same time, email marketing has grown more important to marketers and has the highest return on investment of any channel.
Both email marketing and social media have their strengths and benefits, and marketers need to focus on how to make the two work together rather than prioritizing one over the other.
Email vs. social media
Social media platforms rely on email for certain functions, like welcome and confirmation emails and password resets. Traditionally, you need an email address to even register for a social media platform such as Twitter or Facebook.
There are more than 2.6 billion email users worldwide, almost twice the number of daily active Twitter and Facebook users combined. This presents an opportunity for marketers to increase traffic and revenue through a platform many users already have and are familiar with. In fact, email is almost 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter.
The biggest difference between sending an email versus a social post is that subscribers can only engage with your email if it makes it to their inbox, whereas you hope to send a tweet or post an update during an optimized window of time for maximum exposure. But even in the most cluttered inbox, the email itself has a longer shelf life than any instantaneous social post.
Leveraging social media
When it does come to social media platforms, marketers should think of them as creative outlets — and as an opportunity to provide fresh, fun messages in an easily digestible manner for their customers and target audiences, not to replace email marketing.
Remember MySpace? That platform is proof that even our favorite social media networks today can end up irrelevant in a few years.
But while social media has experienced its ups and downs, it’s undeniable that it’s a revolutionary and modern marketing tool. And even better, it’s easy to integrate into email.
Use your social media platforms as a way to promote email content and link to your social profiles within your email.
Additionally, social channels are great for communicating with customers and target audiences quickly, and email allows for and fosters greater longevity of the relationship that was built on the social platform.
Marketers can use social media to get in front of a potentially wide and targeted audience actively looking to discover interesting content and ideas. And from there, they can use email to communicate directly with the people who are interested and have opted in to receive more content.
Focus on both
Focusing on two separate marketing tools can be difficult, but email marketing and social media go hand in hand.
Additionally, both social and email are affordable marketing strategies that produce high engagement and conversion rates.
Marketers should spend time developing strategies that play off both email and social to reap the combined benefits. Marketers can do this by cross-promoting key messages and top-performing content across all channels, social and email, to increase followers, subscribers and grow your brand.
Marketers need to balance the focus between email marketing and social media and use both marketing tools to complement, not compete with, each other. When that balance is achieved, you can maximize the effectiveness of your entire marketing program.