I know what you’re thinking, comparing these is like comparing apples and oranges. In my eyes, they both serve a very different purpose. So this makes it quite hard to compare them and understand which one is ‘better’.

However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is growing your business effectively. So after stripping everything down, we have to come to a conclusion and decide which is best. It’s an important thing you need to know about your business, as it allows you to focus time and resources on the tools which will have the biggest impact.

General Overall Performance

I’ve no doubt that when asked, more than half of marketers will say that email marketing outperforms social media. Including both business and consumer users, there are 2.5 billion people using email worldwide. Compare that to Facebook’s 2 billion monthly users, and Twitter’s 317 million monthly active users, you’re still short 200 million people. So email is winning the numbers game.

Social Media World Wide Reach

I’d also expect a large portion of the remaining marketers to explain that they are both different channels. Each with their own benefits and flaws.

If you’re wanting to drive traffic to targeted areas of your website, email is a clear winner. If you’re wanting to fully engage with your audience, and raise brand awareness, social media will not be beaten.

Let’s break each channel down further.

Where email marketing wins…

The biggest win for email marketing will always be the immediate reach it has. Having an email list of 3000 customers and a Facebook page with 3000 likes is absolutely not the same thing.

Due to the number of businesses fighting for your attention on social media, Facebook redesigned the news feed algorithm. This means only a tiny percentage of your Facebook audience will actually see your post – this is why it is so important to post at several intervals throughout the day.

Facebook Algorithm Stopping Posts

Over the past 3 years, the percentage of your fans that see your posts on Facebook has dropped from 16% to 6.5%. So less than 190 of your 3000 person audience will actually see your post.

This gets even worse if your page ends up with more than 500,000 likes. Your reach can be decimated to less than 2%. Based on these figures, if your page has 1 million likes, only 20,000 people would actually see your post in their news feed.

What’s worse, all of this was done BEFORE Facebook went and adjusted the algorithm to favour the content of your friends and family. This just pretty much amounts to fewer clicks, comments and shares. Which will no doubt have a knock-on effect on your conversions and sales?

Now let’s compare that to email, where the average open rate is 21.73%.

If you had 3,000 email subscribers, 3,000 Facebook fans and 3,000 Twitter follows – this is what your reach would look like:

  • 630 people will open and see your email
  • 180 Facebook fans will see your message
  • 60 Twitter follows will see your post

So it’s quite clear that email definitely gets your content seen by more people. But don’t forget that’s just the average email open rate, by personalising subject lines and segmenting your lists you can achieve up to 40% open rates – almost double! In case you didn’t see, we put together our top 3 tactics to improve your email engagement.

People Reading Emails

It’s not just reach…

Not only will email get your content to more people, there’s a much higher chance of them actually clicking through from it.

Email marketing has an average click-through rate of 3.57%, which may appear small, but compared to Facebook’s 0.07% and Twitters 0.03% it’s HUGE.

What can social media do?

Pure and simply, social media destroys email marketing when it comes to engagement.

People only tend to open an email once, and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll actually share it with somebody. However social media content has the ability to stick around for days or months. There’s potential for any piece of social media content to go viral, which could be seen by millions of people in a very short space of time.

The other major benefit of social media is the wealth of data and information that comes with it. With email, you only really have a very minimal amount of data from the customers who have signed up to receive them.

Data taken from social media

Through Facebook advertising, you can create scarily targeted adverts to reach potential new customers. Facebook is famously one of the largest gatherers of data, as well as the largest purchasers of data on the planet.

You’re able to target specific demographics, interests or behaviours with the finest of detail. If you wanted to target female dog food buyers within a 10km radius of Nottingham city centre, you could. Facebook is not only one of the largest gatherer of data, they’re also the largest buyer of data.

My Conclusions

So, which one should you focus your time and effort onto? Email marketing or social media?

Unfortunately for you, my answer is – both!

They’re both incredibly effective as long as you use each of their strengths. If you know what your marketing targets are, which you should always know, then you’ll know which channel you need to be focussing on. Plus they both work incredibly well together. You’re able to use social media to grow your email lists as well as assisting with your email marketing conversions.

If you’re wanting more reach, direct conversions or traffic use email marketing. Social media will be perfect for when you’re wanting to engage your audience and help towards securing further conversions.

I hope you have found this useful, and it helps you understand how best to use email marketing and social media. If you want me to explain anything in more detail give me a call on 01472 878 496 or alternatively email me on [email]marketing@laser.red[/email]