Email vs. Social Media
Like many trends in the produce industry, social media in one that has been increasingly important to doing business today. Similar to organics, sustainability, transparency, and packaging; social media has been revolutionizing the way grocery stores, farmers, and distributors market to consumers.
But what is to be said about email? Email has been around since 1993 and has had some highs and some lows over the years. Everyday, millions of spam emails are sent, thousands of people get scammed, and hundreds of people are emailing selfies (probably?). Never the less, email is still the single most utilized tool for communicating messages, above and beyond social media.
Here are some stats about email:
It’s growing: By 2018, there will be 2.8 billion email users, up from 2.5 billion this year.
It’s relevant: People send an average of 121 emails each day.
It’s business-oriented: Businesses send 108 billion emails annually.
People engage with email all day long, even during their work hours. That’s not the case for social media, which is restricted mostly to personal time.
And email marketing is extremely effective. According to one study, it accounts for 16 percent of customers acquired, which is way higher than social media. And those customers who are acquired via social media? Well, they’re actually worth less to businesses, probably because they are responding to a one-time ad and don’t become a long-term client. On the other hand, in cases where emails lead to purchases, the order value is 17% higher on average. Impressive right?!
Even though there are some clear distinctions between the two, is it really fair to compare them? How do you use email? How do you use social media? Do they share characteristics? Do they have different characteristics? Hmmm…
Email Targeting vs. Social Media Targeting
Here’s the thing about social media: It’s a lot like throwing darts (unless you are paying for targeting). You toss something into cyberspace and hope it will hit it’s target. But, for the most part, our posts are probably not reaching our target demographic. Anyone can find and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook…and just because they like or follow us doesn’t mean they’re truly interested in our products. They may have followed us just to enter a contest, get a free coupon, or access other like-gated content.
On the other hand, email marketing, done right, is very different. Someone receiving our emails had to opt in, which means they are truly interested in receiving communications from us. It also means we are reaching a more targeted audience, one willing to share some personal information in order to get on our mailing list. On social media, it’s all too easy for someone to follow us without revealing anything of value about themselves or what they’re really interested in. According to Johannes Selbach of Axandra, proper targeting is one of the most important considerations to make when you are testing out advertising in email newsletters. “We have tried many different email newsletters and you can waste a lot of money if you advertise in a newsletter with the wrong subscribers.” Better targeting means, of course, we have a better chance that someone buying our product. One random “like” on Facebook probably won’t lead to a sale. But an article in a newsletter that’s of interest to a subscriber can.
Ultimately, when it comes to purchase intent and sales conversions, Email remains dominant. Undoubtedly you know a few people who have resisted the social media revolution. They may pride themselves on staying off Twitter and Facebook and not even knowing what a hashtag is. But those people still have email, right? As I mentioned earlier, email remains the most dominant form of digital communication. In fact, ninety-one percent of consumers use email daily. By contrast, only 74 percent of online adults are active on social media sites. By focusing on social media at the exclusion of email, you could be missing out on huge opportunity to build trust and relationships among a targeted group of interested individuals.
Email Will Always Be Important
Social media can be an important component of building awareness of your business. But to push purchases, social media can only do so much. Different social networks rise and fall in popularity and there’s always the danger that you will put too much effort into a site that, in a matter of months, will become the next Friendster. But email, on the other hand, faces no such uncertainty. Email has been around for decades, and even as the internet matures, it shows no signs of becoming less important.
While yes, they are both communication mediums and they both have direct relations to marketing and business performance, I would go as far as to say that they are in two different leagues. Each platform has pros and cons. Neither of them guaranty responses, sales, engagement, or shares. Nor will either of them be going away any time soon. No matter what platform you prefer, the key is to have the right mix of marketing initiatives and track each of their performance. Without the right tracking tools in place, you would never know what’s REALLY working.
Which means of communication do you prefer? Email or Social Media… Why?