Social Media vs Email Marketing: The 5 Reasons Why Email Wins

Social media still represents a sort of “shiny new toy” for marketers today.

And for many valid reasons!

However, while platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become hugely important to the success of many SMBs, they aren’t the be-all, end-all of your marketing strategy.

Here’s a not-so-secret secret: there’s a more cost-efficient and time-sensitive way to grow your business organically. The best way to turn fans, followers and subscribers into customers that actually spend money?

Yeah, you guessed it. Email marketing. Plain and simple.

But don’t get us wrong… businesses shouldn’t have to choose between social media and email!

After all, social media certainly has its place when it comes to marketing your business and we’re obviously avid social users ourselves!

In fact, we encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and head to our Instagram page to check out what our team has been up to lately!

But let’s take a step back and break down 5 reasons why email is so valuable to business owners today.

1. With email, there’s less competition for your audience’s attention

Here’s some food for thought: you cannot have a social media profile without an email address.

Let that sink in for a second.

While not every single one of your prospects has a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram presence, an email address is the gateway to getting just about anything done online. It’s a necessity.

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Now, there’s no denying that you still have to fight for your readers’ attention.

After all, people receive a lot of emails on any given day. While some might see a few dozen messages pop in their inboxes on a daily basis, others are getting bombarded with hundreds of emails.

Bad news, huh? Not necessarily.

Keep in mind that the average person spends approximately 30 hours per week checking their inboxes. That’s a lot of time to potentially interact with your messages, isn’t it?

Compared to your readers spending time scrolling through tweets and random cat videos on Facebook, the odds are actually in your favor for your email messages to get read.

Think about it like this: the amount of social posts your prospects see on any given day is endless.

On the other hand, emails land in your readers’ inboxes and stay there. It’s easy for your prospects to skim over your latest blog post, white paper or product launch on Twitter or Facebook.

Through email, they can’t miss it.

2. Social algorithms are fickle (email not so much)

4,000 Facebook fans and 4,000 email subscribers are not the same thing.

If you’ve spent much time trying to promote your business via Facebook or Twitter, then you’re probably all too familiar with this dilemma.

That is, you have killer content and plenty of fans to eat it up, but your post reach doesn’t seem to go very far and your engagement rates have tanked despite the fact that the number of fans on your page continues to grow.

What gives?

Simply put, social algorithms are quite fickle in terms of what your audience and followers actually see. This is especially true on Facebook which has become more of a “pay to play” game.

As a matter of fact, organic reach for various Facebook business users decreased by 52%.

This means that Facebook post reach could be as low as 2% in some cases compared to email open rates that average 22%.

That’s a pretty significant difference, right?

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This means that if you have 4,000 Facebook fans, 4,000 Twitter followers, and 4,000 Email subscribers you will get:

  • 880 subscribers opening your email
  • 80 Facebook fans viewing your content
  • 144 Twitter followers seeing your tweet

In other words, a lot of that time spent building your social channels organically could result in very low exposure and engagement despite your efforts.

The ideal (and most cost effective) way for your fans to engage with your content is via email as opt-in’s never miss your messages.

With email, the task of getting your emails read is simple and straightforward. You have a list that’s ready for your content: all you have to do is make sure it reaches them successfully.

The keys to optimizing your emails for deliverability are well-documented. For example, you can guarantee that your messages reach your list by…

  • Avoiding spam triggers such as aggressive sales language or tons of images
  • Using a legitimate email automation solution like Sendlane versus a personal email address
  • Crafting engaging emails in terms of your subject line to entice readers to click-through

When promoting content exclusively via social media, you’re putting your success and visibility in the hands of an algorithm.

Doesn’t it make more sense to hold yourself accountable for delivering your messages than hope an algorithm has your back?

The goal? Get the best of both worlds by promoting via social and email so no piece of content goes unnoticed.

3. Email is significantly more cost effective

Email marketing is noted for its sky-high ROI.

Whether you believe the 122% ROI or the oft-cited $40 for $1 spent on email, the numbers supporting email are absolutely staggering from a financial perspective.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your business might be: the more money you can keep in your pocket, the better.

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However, the biggest benefit of social media is that it is indeed truly free. It’s possible to gain thousands of fans and followers without spending a dime, but doing so requires a serious time commitment.

But, it’s not just fans and followers you’re after… it’s conversions, right?

And to truly get a steady stream of conversions out of your social channels you’ll need to splash some serious cash at ad campaigns.

Although we love how Facebook allows you to get hyper-specific in terms of who your ads are targeting, you’re ultimately limited by your budget and a rising cost-per-click.

A low monthly cost for an email automation subscription will most definitely stretch further than a pricey ad campaign.

For example, at Sendlane we offer plans starting as little as $25 per month for those just starting out.

While you’re not going to get very far on $25 of Facebook ad spend, you can reach and sell to your small list again and again without limits.

What makes email so cost-effective, though?

Consider the following three factors in favor of email messages, including…

  • Sending emails costs next to nothing, especially if you’re dealing with a smaller list
  • You have the unique ability to optimize the timing and tone of your messages
  • The ability to segment your list and send out personalized messages to specific audience members versus hoping that a one-size-fits-all all ad sticks>

The ability to save big via email is all the more reason why you shouldn’t sleep on building your list today. While a large social following is great, a list of opt-ins represent one of the most important assets of any business.

4. Email opt-ins are your best prospects

How long does it take to follow someone on Twitter or “like” a Facebook page? Half-a-second?

In other words, not much of a commitment, right?

Now, that’s not to say your social fans and followers aren’t valuable in their own right. After all, through Facebook or Twitter, followers have the ability to get in touch with your business in real-time. This sort of connectivity and communication is one of the strengths that social indeed does have over email.

But while there are certainly businesses with legitimate followers out there, email subscribers are a totally different story in terms of value.

They’re genuinely interested in what you have to offer and therefore are more likely to engage with your messages and in the long run, make a purchase.

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If someone takes the time to subscribe to your email list, they’ve effectively told you three things:

  • They trust you enough to provide them with their personal information
  • They’re legitimately interested in hearing from you and want to learn more about your business
  • They’re willing to interact with your brand in the future>

These three trust signals alone should clue us in on just how worthwhile email subscribers are.

“Likes” and shares on social media are nice! But… they aren’t always the best indicators for who’s willing to purchase your products or services.

On the flip side, anyone who opts-in to your list is willing to stick around for the long haul and are your more likely candidates for future customers down the line.

5. Email analytics are easy to track

Keeping track of your analytics via social media can be a hassle.

Followers. Reach. Mentions. Engagement. Oh, and that’s for each platform you’re using.

Social media can teach you a ton about your audience.

But with so many moving pieces, it’s often difficult to figure out which pieces of content are performing best and how to scale them. Also, tracking metrics becomes a total nightmare as you’re scrambling from platform to platform.

With email marketing, it’s crystal clear what’s working and what isn’t in terms of your marketing messages.

For example, Sendlane’s analytics reporting spells out quickly how well your emails are performing. Thanks to these black-and-white numbers, there’s little second-guessing in terms of your email’s performance.

As you can see, these particular metrics are pretty self-explanatory.

From your open rate to your click rate to how many people are clicking on specific links, you have the capability to understand at a glance what needs fine-tuning versus trying to sort through a laundry list of metrics and data points on Facebook. 

Social media vs email… the key to finding a balance

Again, we’re not telling you to totally forget about social media entirely.

Quite the opposite, actually!

There are numerous ways in which social media and email marketing go hand in hand. For example…

  • Encouraging your social followers to opt-in to your email list
  • Including social buttons within your email signatures
  • Uploading your email list as a Custom Audience on Facebook>

In short, you don’t have think of email marketing and social media as a strict matter of “either/or.” They can certainly compliment each other!

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the ever-changing world of social media.

That said, email marketing still reigns supreme when it comes to getting closer to your customers and selling to them time and time again.

With email marketing, you have more control over what you’re sending out, who sees and when they see it.

And the more control you have over your business, the better. Right?

Kristen Dahlberg

Content Manager at Sendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!
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