The Latest Analytic Research
Late last month a study, done by analytics platform Custora, discovered that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last 4 years, while the customer lifetime value (CLV) of customers acquired through Twitter is 23% lower than the overall average. But what does this mean? To be specific, it means that e-mail marketing is presently more efficient than social media marketing. Through email, businesses are able to better drive traffic to their sites and convert sales when compared to social media. Upon hearing the news, hordes of people claimed that social media still wasn’t worth the heavy investment marketers have been suggesting. So the question remains, is e-mail truly better than social media for marketing and what this statistic means for businesses?
Digital Peer Pressure
As it stands, 85% of the population claim they are connected through e-mail whereas only 62% of the population claims this for social media. That seems like a good sized margin when you’re considering where to invest capital in next year’s budget, but that shouldn’t necessarily indicate that you should concentrate more on e-mail marketing. If we take a moment to go back in time and remember the early days of e-mail, people weren’t exactly fully sold on the idea back in 1993. Today e-mail is one of the most, if not the most, popular form of communication in both the consumer and business environments, but it didn’t start out that way. This two decade development didn’t occur overnight, rather it had time to develop slowly through engagement and interaction over a long period of time. As more people got e-mail addresses, its popularity grew like wildfire and therefore global usage increased. Overall, social media doesn’t currently have a chance at actively competing with a system that’s literally twice its elder.
Social media dawned only in 2003 to 2004 (depending upon who you ask), making it a full 9 to 10 years younger than e-mail. Given that user popularity is typically a function of time, e-mail is of course going to be a more reputable method for marketing. However, looking at the percentages analytically something interesting should certainly stand out. Social media is clearly younger than e-mail marketing, yet it is increasing at a relatively faster rate (only a 23% difference in ten years less time). Now there are many reasons for this, but mainly with globalization giving technologic ability to a greater number of diverse areas, the overall sample size of potential users will only increase leading to a higher percent in the digital era. This gives social media a chance to beat out the steep claim acquired by e-mail at its peak.
While the statistical differences between e-mail and social media preference should decrease due to the modern relevance of social media, new functionality also plays a key role. Looking through old e-mail promotions and overall marketing tactics, it is clear that e-mail marketing is reliant upon backlinks, linking the user to an e-commerce platform. In this regard, e-mail strategies require the successful activity of two processes: the actual e-mail to drive traffic to the specific e-commerce platform, thereby converting the sale. The two-step process is soon to be challenged with emerging e-commerce extensions that allow sales straight through social media platforms.
Take for example Chirpify, the self-proclaimed only in-stream social commerce platform. This system allows consumers to buy, sell, and pay with one comment on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Chirpify therefore essentially makes the e-commerce process easier for the consumer and, as most marketers know, the easier the e-commerce process, the more likely the customer is going actually buy the product. Inherently, killing two birds with one stone is simply more logical; why do it the “long way” when you can simply do it the “short way?” We are indeed an instant gratification culture after all. The ever-increasing functionality of social media makes it more appealing to consumers and therefore should remain interesting for businesses.
Also included in this functionality is the specific marketing techniques that can be deployed through social media that are essentially better than e-mail. Take for example social referrals vs. e-mail discounts. Most retail companies simply reach out to consumers on e-mail lists by sending them discounts every once and a while, hoping to increase the rate of sales traffic and build consumer value. Unlike its predecessor, social media allows businesses to connect with consumers in an almost domino-like effect. These companies will contact consumers and ask they share the firm’s product on the consumer’s social media page for a potential discount. If the consumer complies, the company has not only increased sales from the actual consumer but has always increased the potential web traffic it would have normally received. From a content point this is wonderful as the increased back links from the shared post on social media platforms allows the business to achieve a higher SEO ranking. Even going back to the digital marketing perspective, e-mail discount blasts allow businesses to reach everyone on their lists but, social referrals force it a step farther. Imagine on a list of 10,000 consumers you could contact all of them and persuade them to purchase your product with discounts. Now imagine you could contact those same people but implore them to share your product with their friends on let’s say Facebook. With statistics saying that the average user has 130 friends on Facebook, a firm could potentially increase their reach from 10,000 to 1.3 Million users…now that’s functional!
Back to the Future
If we think again back to those early days of e-mail, we should recall that direct outbound marketing was seen as borderline holy in terms of sales traffic and acquisition. But that sacred technique existed prior to the real advent of the internet and thus digital and inbound marketing. Digital marketing began with e-mail but as modern interactive technology has advanced, so have the platforms. As social media evolves and makes it easier than email to manage connections, interactivity, and the overall web experience, the former difference should shift drastically in the next few years.
Right now it may seem like a good idea to invest more towards e-mail marketing rather than social media marketing but the writing is on the wall. As program functionality looks to tighten up management systems and make it easier for one to control their full web experience through one platform, e-mail marketing should decrease in rate. Similar to the fall of telemarketing, once the ROI for social media marketing is clearly better than e-mail marketing, businesses should keep social newsfeeds very busy. So unless you’re still leaving room in the budget for mass telemarketing, it appears that you should start leaving a significant portion of your marketing budget for the “great and powerful” social media despite what current reports may say.