Why email marketing can't be replaced by social media

Why email marketing can’t be replaced by social media

Given the popularity of social media platforms, it may be tempting to put aside your email contact list in the hopes of reaching your customers through tweets and status updates. Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram may now be essential for successful businesses, but companies should think twice before they consider using those platforms to replace their email marketing campaigns.

Even in the changing landscape, email continues to win business for companies. Predictive analytics firm Custora recently released survey results that show the average percentage of new customers acquired through email has quadrupled since 2009, while the growth of customer acquisition via social media channels has been negligible.

Furthermore, customers gained through social platforms tend to be of a lower value to companies than those acquired through email and organic search. The Custora study indicated that the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – the expected profit a new customer will bring to a business – of those who discover a company on Twitter is 23 percent below average. The CLV of customers gained through email marketing, however, is 12 percent higher than average.

As valuable as social media may be, many thinkers within marketing are now suggesting that it is not enough on its own. In a post for Business 2 Community, Jill Jones suggested that a successful marketing strategy will employ many channels to deliver content to customers, and email is the ideal way to connect those channels so that customers can easily access them.

"Email remains firmly at the core of a cross-channel strategy and recognizing email's role as the center of this strategy is critical to your success," wrote Jones.

Others suggest the effectiveness of email over social media for generating customers has to do with the differing natures of the two platforms. A recent Forbes column by Tim Dewaney and Tom Stein pointed out that checking email is the most popular mobile activity for smartphone users, who use their social apps more to get breaking news and updates from companies.

"Email is effective because it's permission-based," Dewaney and Stein noted, and customers look to emails to provide them with promotions that they can act on.

They went on to point out, however, that mobile device users read email quickly, so a company's promotional message should be succinct, attention-grabbing and clear about the customer's next step toward purchase. Also, with 70 percent of users opting to unsubscribe from unattractive messages, emails have to look good on a mobile screen.

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