Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: Choose Your Champion

Vladislav Podolyako
Jun 02, 2022
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Social media marketing is booming right now. What used to be a platform for people to connect and share thoughts is now a battlefield where brands, businesses, and influencers collide, attracting audiences and generating profit. No wonder why some people believe that email marketing is dead - how can it even compare to the opportunities offered by Facebook, Instagram, and Clubhouse? 

Due to this, many business owners find themselves on the fence regarding what they should use for promoting their company and generating new leads. Social media marketing seems infinitely more lucrative and innovative. However, personal feelings and perceptions have never been the best way of figuring out the perfect approach. Only facts and analysis can help you determine the most productive sales channel for your business

And facts and analysis we shall provide.

Does email marketing still rock?

Short answer: it sure does. 

Long answer: there is a reason why it has been around before 2000 and keeps evolving. Sending emails is an advanced version of exchanging letters and it holds a special place in our hearts. 

  • Sense of privacy. Using email marketing to reach out to potential clients and business partners via mailbox takes your conversation to another level. Your recipients feel more comfortable, more confident about disclosing certain information or sharing their concerns. Instead of pushing them into accepting a generic offer, you work towards a deal that is tailored to their needs and solves particular pain points. It’s hard to gain the same level of trust and privacy even when exchanging DMs on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Customized campaigns. Email marketing lets you target a specific segment of your target audience with great precision. You don’t have to worry about your thoughtfully crafted message getting seen by other prospects who aren’t included in the campaign - all you need is a well-segmented contact list and a bunch of validated email addresses. 
  • Creative freedom. While email guidelines have certain limitations regarding image size and wording, as long as you do your warm-up right, don’t use misleading subject lines, follow the CAN-SPAM act and act like a decent human being, you can let your imagination run wild. If you target a B2C area, you can come up with a wide range of interactive content, from quizzes to short quests. In a B2B area, you can engage your target audience with polls and marketing materials.
  • Convenient pace. When users communicate via email, they don’t feel rushed or pressured. Their mailbox is their space and they get to decide which email gets their attention first. It’s very different compared to the frantic tempo of Facebook and Instagram, where the news feeds get updated every second and the abundance of colorful content and visuals can make people dizzy. 

These are the benefits of email marketing and they’re pretty much necessary to gain your leverage with competitors. However, we would be very biased if we don’t mention the disadvantages of running email marketing campaigns, wouldn’t we? We would be happy to say that there are none, but nobody is perfect. 

What are the downsides of email marketing?

We have been working with email marketing and email campaigns for several years. So, we are very well aware of the following pitfalls that can turn your sales generation into a nightmare. 

  • Need for a warmup. Before you can start sending emails freely, you need to go through a set of preparations to make sure that your domain and your mailbox are ready for intense marketing activity. That includes establishing email authentication protocols, launching warm-up campaigns and setting a small number of emails before increasing them to the desired number and constantly monitoring your progress. When one link from this chain is missing, users are doomed to start again, over and over. 
  • Issues with spam filters. Spam filters are always watching you. So many users lose their messages to spam folders because they fail to notice the budding problems when it’s possible to remedy them without breaking a sweat. As a result, they end up trying to de-blacklist themselves or even have to create a new domain and start new campaigns. 
  • Reliance on research and data. Highly-customized campaigns need a well-segmented and validated list of contacts and this is the step you can’t ignore. If you don’t have a skilled researcher in your team, you need to find an outsourced one, so they would take care of finding and validating contact data for you. Otherwise, you risk dooming your campaigns and deliverability to spam traps and blacklists.

Email marketing doesn’t grant you instant visibility. It’s a long-time process that requires you to be contemplative, patient, and attentive to details. You start building your reputation - and you keep doing it even after your campaigns end. 

What makes social media so awesome?

The short answer is...well, there is no short answer. Let’s break the awesomeness down into several points:

  • Access to information. Modern generations cannot imagine their life without social media networks. It has become natural for them to upload information about themselves, their hobbies, their preferences, and the events they’re interested in. When you need to build a marketing strategy that appeals to your target audience, you already have everything you need - just take a look at your average customer’s social media profile and see what will hit their boxes. 
  • Opportunities for creativity. There are seemingly no rules regarding capturing your audience’s attention on social media, except the most obvious ones (no posting NSFW content, avoiding imagery that promotes the use of substances, no misleading or disturbing content). You can go wild and create viral images, videos, photos, and interactive content - whatever hooks your audience! Moreover, posting this content on Facebook instead of your website guarantees increased visibility and a higher engagement rate. 
  • Fast way to get attention. Social media trends and news pop up in a blink of an eye. Once something is leaked or uploaded, it’s instantly shared by thousands of users and there is no going back. Feels like the perfect platform if you want to put your brand in front of as many people as it’s possible without spending too much time on warming your target audience up. 
  • Option to target several audiences at once. Social networks unite all kinds of age groups, from boomers to millennials. That allows you to create several campaigns for one platform and appeal to many segments of your target audience without scattering your focus. 

These are the key benefits of social media marketing and they’re definitely mind-blowing. But don’t get blinded by their allure. There are dark spots on the sun and we intend to reveal them as well. 

What are the downsides of social media marketing?

Now, if social media marketing was always effective no matter the industry and strategy, we wouldn’t even talk about other options. However, since the “SMM vs. Email Marketing” debates are still relevant, it’s clear that social media marketing isn’t flawless. So, let’s take a look at those flaws and see how they can impact your brand promotion. 

  • Extreme competitiveness. Social networks of 2022 cannot be compared to social networks of 2004-2007. Getting your content seen and heard isn’t as easy as it used to be. For example, being active on Instagram isn’t enough to stand out from the crowd and reel users in - you’re not in 2011 anymore. Same for using Facebook Ads - it’s a must for pretty much any brand with social media presence and it alone doesn’t guarantee great results. Your content can be easily lost to the white noise produced by countless companies that sell products that are similar to yours. Breaking through that noise and making impact demands much more effort (and funds) than ten years ago.
  • Censorship. Yes, Facebook and Instagram carry out an important task of blocking illegal content, imagery that isn’t friendly for your work or your psyche and provide restrictions regarding promotion of certain products, such as alcohol and cigarettes. But sometimes this censorship gets silly. Speaking from one of our teammate’s experiences, Facebook blocked their advertising banners for a flip-flop store. This issue took quite a while to settle, but the precious time was still lost. So, advertising via Facebook feels like walking on thin ice sometimes. 
  • Ambiguous engagement. Sure, all kinds of target audiences attend social media and allow you to create numerous campaigns. But when it comes to narrowing your content down to a specific target audience segment, you’ll find out that you have no power here. You can create content designed for 29-year old start-up owners in Missouri, but there is no guarantee that it won’t get swarmed by 35-year old CMOs from New York. Some tools can help you with narrowing everything down, but they won’t give you complete control. 

Now you know the bumps you can run into on your way to going viral on social media. Each of them is an obstacle to be reckoned with, so creating an account and starting communicating with prospects will no longer improve your sales generation.  

Let’s talk numbers

We outlined the benefits and the drawbacks of each channel. But facts imply more than words. We need numbers. 

First of all, you’d probably like to know the ROI you can get from email marketing and social media marketing. Well, according to Statista and CampaignMonitor, we have the following picture. 

The ROI gap is astounding. To decipher it, email marketing brings you 38$ for each 1$ you spend on the campaigns. In addition, it drives a 2,5% click-through rate compared to 0,7% average click-through rate gained on social media. This can be explained by the fact that each user that responds to email marketing campaigns is usually opted-in i.e. gives their consent to receiving content and wants to interact with it. 

But what about reach? 

While there are around 2.8 billion active users that frequent Facebook monthly, email is used by 4.1 billion people around the world - and this isn’t even the most accurate number because new email accounts are created every second. Also, around 58% of users prioritize checking their email over checking their Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn news feed in the morning and throughout the day. So, when it comes to staying in your prospects’ minds, a mailbox looks like a good place for making it happen.

The verdict

So, is there an “Yay” or ‘Nay” to choosing social media platforms over email marketing or vice versa?

It all depends on your goals and the stages of your promotion campaign. In general, we suggest not focusing your marketing on one channel only. Omni-channel approach is the way of the future and you should embrace it. 

Social media marketing on Facebook and LinkedIn will help you with:

  • Generating average brand awareness
  • Promote your inbound marketing content
  • Create more opt-ins
  • Build up communication with your target audience
  • Go viral with innovative content

Email marketing content will let you:

  • Create a personalized experience for every potential buyer
  • Launch customized campaigns for a particular segment of your target audience
  • Drive your prospects towards making a buying decision
  • Provide exclusive marketing materials 
  • Stay in front of your high-value leads
  • Receive clear and trackable data

Social media marketing and email marketing are the ingredients to your success. They have juicy benefits, but taste much better when used together, creating a uniquely flavored customer’s journey for your prospects. So, don’t think about stopping working on one channel and switching to another - think how you can make them work together! 

Was this material useful to you? Make sure to share your thoughts and suggestions on our official LinkedIn page. We’d appreciate it!  

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

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