I know—how dare I have the audacity to hate on social media? It’s the way of the future! It will solve world hunger. It will have your babies.
And very soon, it will even make your decaf soy latte in the morning.
Don’t get me wrong. Social media is great, and you should use it in your marketing if that makes sense for your business.
But you should not put it ahead of email marketing.
Because all other things being equal, email marketing still crushes social media marketing. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. SIMPLE NUMBERS
Did you know that email has nearly three times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined? That’s a whopping 2.9 billion.
In fact, if you imagine a full cup of rice is the number of emails sent every day, then by comparison, all the daily posts on Facebook would make a miserable 10 grains—barely enough to pick up with a chopstick. And all the tweets sent every day would be a measly 4 grains. In fact, Facebook and Twitter combined make up just 0.2% of the number of emails sent each day.
Not including spam.
By the same token, every web search made on every search engine every day equals just 1/100th of daily email traffic; and all the pages viewed on the entire web each day—including images and videos—use only a quarter of the bandwidth consumed by email.
Many marketers are so busy chasing the latest baubles and magic bullets that they haven’t got a clue about all this.
After all, what’s old is dead—so email, being older than dirt in internet terms, must be deader than anything.
“No one uses it any more”—or, more often, “I tried but it didn’t work.”
But smart marketers consider email not just essential to their business efforts, but foundational to their marketing and sales systems.
Quality vs. Quantity
Okay, you may be thinking, sure, email has heaps of users. It’s got major “traffic” compared to social media channels. But so what? It’s not like traffic alone means anything. A small amount of precisely-targeted marketing aimed at high-quality traffic will nail much larger amounts then that of shotgun pellets sprayed willy-nilly.
Absolutely right. If that’s what you were thinking, you’re well on your way to being a better marketer than most “experts”. So let me tell you the good news: email crushes social media for quality of traffic as well as quantity.
2. EMAIL IS THE MOST PERSONAL MEDIUM
Oh, I hear you muttering. Facebook. Facebook is the most personal, Bnonn.
No it ain’t. First of all, refer back to item 1: simple numbers. A lot of people still don’t use Facebook. (If you’re going for an older audience, the closer you get to a good ol’ fashioned written letter, the better off you’ll be — which means email.)
But secondly, in the vast majority of cases, business-minded people do not go to Facebook for private, 1-on-1 conversations. (Maybe teenyboppers do, and if you’re in B2C and want to try marketing to them using Facebook’s private message feature, good luck with that.) But business people open Gmail or Outlook or whatever, and bang out an email.
Heck, you’ve probably experienced this yourself. You might start a private message on Facebook, and then you’re like, “Okay, email me.” Email is the first, best social media channel. And that is the power you want to tap.
3. EMAIL IS THE MOST “BUSINESSY” MEDIUM
Yes, some businesses do use Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus for communicating with various people. But when it comes to building business relationships and communicating with partners and clients, the most “serious”, “grown-up” medium is email.
So the question I’d like to pose is simple: would you rather use a single marketing channel to talk to all your customers in the most professional way possible…or divide your energy between multiple different channels to talk to only some of them in ways that don’t have that professional gloss?
Now remember, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use those other channels. Just that you shouldn’t use them before email. Here’s another reason why not:
4. EMAIL GETS WAY MORE ATTENTION PER CUSTOMER THAN ANYTHING ELSE
Very simply, you’re more likely to get face time with your prospects if you use email.
This isn’t necessarily because your customers spend more time with email than on Facebook or searching Google or whatever—although they might.
Rather, it’s because email allows you to make repeated contact, and that contact is “invasive”. It’s in their mailbox—their inner electronic sanctum. That’s very different from sending out a tweet or posting something on Facebook, where they may or may not see it, because it’s just part of a much larger timeline featuring hundreds of other people.
In that situation, you’re easily missed if you don’t hit just the right window (which often differs per person).
But in even the most badly-managed inbox, your message is still there, waiting for their attention. It doesn’t just go away.
So provided you say things worth reading, your customers will give you minutes of a time each day. Minutes are like dog years on the internet.
And the more worth reading you are, the more your customers actually start to look forward to your messages. Indeed, research shows that most people open email from a maximum of 16 “trusted advisers”—and they almost always open these emails. If you can get into this inner circle, you get undivided attention.
5. EMAIL IS A TRANSACTIONAL MEDIUM
What I mean by this is simply that customers already expect to get offers by email, and to buy things through email. So they not only have a high tolerance for offers, but they’re actually more likely to be in a buying frame of mind. They’re primed.
Compare this to Facebook, where your customers are really just there to chat with their friends, see the latest cute cat videos, and play Farmville. Even if they like you, that’s a lousy environment for marketing isn’t it? Or Twitter, where people are in the habit of finding interesting things to share, or catch up with the people they follow—but very seldom are looking to buy anything.
With email, you can “train” your customers to expect offers while simultaneously teaching them about your value, day in and day out. This means they begin to not only expect offers from you, but to desire them (at least some of them). And because of the ability to make effectively unlimited contacts, you are infinitely more likely to catch them at time when they’re ready to buy (which is one of the most important rules of sales).
To summarize, email simply has the nut hand at the marketing poker table.
Facebook and Twitter are channels used by far fewer customers, for frivolous, non-business and non-transactional things. Marketing messages get less attention per customer than email, and they fail to establish as personal a connection either.
I’m sure many folks will disagree, and I invite your dissent in the comments below. Tell me: how do you do your online marketing? Do you take care of email first, and then social media if you have time left over? Or do you think email is dead?
About the Author: Bnonn is the author of a free course on 5 website changes you can make today to bring in more sales. Known in the boroughs as the Information Highwayman, he helps entrepreneurs sell more online by improving both their web copy and design. When he’s not knee-deep in the guts of someone’s homepage, he is teaching his kids about steampunk, Nathan Fillion, and how to grapple a zombie without getting bit.