Over the past decade, few aspects of marketing have received as much publicity as social media. But as the buzz dies down, we’re seeing more hype than hard results. In fact, most statistics show that email still trumps social media. Email marketing might not be as flashy, but it’s still number one in effectiveness.
Social Media Shakeups Ensure Confusion Reigns
Ever heard the saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute. It’ll change?” It seems the same is true of social media. Just keeping up with the platform du jour can be exhausting. Should you be on Pinterest? Google Plus? Reddit? What about some of the newer social networks like Medium, impossible and Mobli? And, at the end of the day, will these all go the way of MySpace, which was the hot new thing just 10 years ago (an eternity in social media worlds)? When it comes to social media, nothing lasts forever.
Social Rules Keep Changing
It’s tough to drive and even track results when the rules of the game keep changing. Take Facebook, for instance. In December 2013, Facebook made several changes to its News Feed algorithm, ostensibly to weed out spammy posts. These updates impacted the way Facebook treats all branded content, however. As a result, there is far less visibility across nearly all brand pages, according to research conducted by Ignite Social Media.
With the new algorithm, organic reach has already declined by 44 percent with some pages seeing drops as high as 88 percent. A year ago, a brand could expect to reach 16 out of every 100 fans. Today, you’d be lucky if you reach just three.
As more networks deal with spam, brand marketers hoping to kick start social media campaigns are seeing problems multiply exponentially.
Consumers Say They Prefer Email
What’s most telling in this struggle with social media is what consumers are telling us. According to this infographic from HostPapa, 75 percent of adults say they prefer email for communication. This is true even for the coveted and notoriously fickle 18-29 age group, with 74 percent agreeing that email trumps social for commercial usage.
A recent study by eConsultancy backs this up. Out of 1,400 people surveyed, 42 percent said they prefer email for receiving ads and specials, compared to only 3 percent who preferred social networking sites. Using the channel customers want just makes sense.
Marketers Follow the Money
While customer preference studies are conclusive, marketers are realizing that results from social media marketing can be elusive. In ExactTarget’s 2014 State of Marketing survey, only 34 percent of marketers say they’re currently seeing an ROI from social. Fifty-two percent are optimistic they will eventually see results, but the question is, when? Only 31 percent think their social listening is fully effective and only 23 percent find their social advertising effective.
Email marketing, on the other hand, offers a bit more clarity. Sixty-eight percent of marketers believe email is core to their business. In a study from analytics firm Custora, customer acquisition via email was shown to have quadrupled in the last four years, while Facebook and Twitter were almost insignificant.
Even more impactful, customers acquired through email tend to shop and spend about 11 percent more than the average customer. Facebook-acquired customers are about average, while Twitter customers actually spend about 23 percent lessthan average. The lesson here is clear: Follow the money to make money! And the money’s in email.
Different Mediums, Different Goals
Ultimately, marketers must remember social media and email are two entirely different beasts that require distinct approaches. Where social media excels is in providing the hook that piques a customer’s interest. Great social content can get potential customers in an engagement mindset. But where email excels is the follow-up. Only through email can you really control the conversation and push out the specific messages that convert fans into actual customers. In other words, social sparks the conversation, but email drives the conversion. With this in mind, the decision on how and when to use social in your marketing is up to you.
What has your experience been with social media? Are you using an integrated approach to combining social and email marketing? Or do you agree that social is over-hyped? Share your thoughts in the comments below!