Email Marketing vs Social Media Marketing

  • Better Marketing
  • March 7, 2023

Is email marketing better than social media? Choose your weapon!

You want to stay in touch with your market via an economical channel, what are your options? Certainly, you’ll be considering both email marketing and social marketing.

Now you may not have to choose one over the other but if you’re short on resources – and who isn’t? – then maybe you’re better off doing one thing well, than two things poorly.

So which is best? It’s a good question, and of course it depends on what you’re trying to do, what skills you have under your belt, and what resources you have up your sleeve.

But we’re going to go out on a limb here, and say email marketing trumps social, almost every time – and for some very good reasons you might not have considered.

Let’s dive right into the biggest reason of all ….

Why invest in somebody else’s asset?

Here’s the thing with email: you control it! The channel, the messaging, frequency and the recipients, everything about it. You know your message will get to their inbox, you don’t have to hope your target market is online for those five seconds your message might appear in their feed, depending on the algorithm which of course is a state secret entirely out of your control.  

You don’t own your social media pages – just ask Donald Trump! 

He famously got ‘de-platformed’ and banned from social channels. Well, if you build your business on a foundation that someone else owns, you can’t really complain when the rug is pulled out from under you when you attempt to overthrow democracy (or sometimes for unknown reasons)! 

Even if you’re not about to be closed down for running a fraud, you’re still very much vulnerable to the vagaries of the all-controlling algorithm that undermine control of your pages and content. 

That’s right, just because you post something does NOT mean your followers will all see it. The platforms ‘rank’ posts based on a host of reasons, and their ranking works differently in different parts of their apps, too! 

We often hear stories of businesses that have built an audience organically, but when their followers reached a certain size they struggled to communicate without boosting posts, or paying for advertising.  

Why? Simple … 

Social media platforms are built to sell advertising to you, not to help you for free! In fact, we are the product that social media companies sell.  

Makes sense, really, and if it was your business that’s exactly what you’d do. Lower the barrier to entry by making it free, and then when enough time and effort has been invested into the platform, crank up the cost. Essentially, once you have built an engaged audience of your ideal prospects, often the platform then limits the distribution of your content to your followers until you boost posts or buy advertising. This is just to communicate with your followers not to attract more followers. 

They’re also built to keep people on the platform, so they prioritise content that does exactly that. Sure they can be useful for building brand awareness, and reaching new audiences, but so long as you temper your expectations, and don’t be surprised if posts sending people to your website don’t get as much traction as you would like. 

Unless you’re paying for it, every post really is a roll of the dice 

Additionally, small changes along with updates of policies, terms of service and a host of other items can play havoc with your social presence. 

Giants Ely Lilly and Lockheed Martin lost billions following a tiny change to a blue tick on Twitter, that suddenly allowed fake tweets from so called ‘verified’ accounts to claim that Ely Lilly was making insulin free, and Lockheed Martin was going to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US. The result? Ely Lilly stock dropped by $15 billion, and Lockheed by$7 billion overnight. You can read all about it here, if you want. 

Social is hard, hard work 

Look, we get it, as business owners we’ve been told for many years now – social media is easy and free, simply build a strong social media following and it will turn into sales. 

Sounds almost too good to be true? Trust your instinct!  Ask anyone who’s actually done it, they’ll tell you it’s actually a load of hard work, takes significant time and creativity. And that means money. 

“ I didn’t want a 9 to 5 job, so I became a social media manager and now I work 24/7! ” 

Posting is relentless, moderation is thankless. We don’t all have the resources to build and manage our own social media platforms, and even if we did, they’re never going to work as well as the big players already out there.

Own your own destiny! 

The foundation stone of any email marketing campaign is the database. The list of contacts you collect throughout the life of your business, along with all the corresponding details of their interaction with you. There is value in that information alone, in fact, sometimes business are purchased for the sole reason of a buying that particular asset, and the bigger the database, the higher the purchase price. It’s even been floated that Elon Musk actually bought Twitter for the treasure trove of data it contains, and continues to generate… who knows… 

Investing in an email database builds a valuable asset 

Why databases are valuable? 

Because it’s a direct channel to your prospects and customers, that you control and that you can turn into money, quite easily. 

You can mine this asset on an ongoing basis. If you’re mindful of not overdoing it, and you add value as well as asking for the sale (!) you can keep going as long as you want. So long as you have something interesting, or useful to say, keep doing so. 

Over time you’ll be able to tell your brand story, explain changes in the industry and develop a relationship with your contacts to the extent that they’ll rely on your emails to keep them informed.  

Email marketing also allows you to be very specific, so you can develop three, five or even 25 different messages – talking to the reader in the language they like to hear, addressing their specific pain points, and highlighting the benefits you KNOW they will appreciate. Oh, and they’ve given you their permission to do it. 

And when they are, finally, in the position to buy – they’ll dig out your emails and give you a buzz. 

Think about your own emails, do you tuck some away now and again to read later..?  

When was the last time you hung onto a social media post as a reference? 

Existing customers? Well, you know the old adage, that it’s five times easier to sell to existing customers than it is to get new ones? Well it’s absolutely true, and an email gets your message across quickly, directly. Why wouldn’t you use, and continually optimise that kind of marketing gold..?  

So what’s the next step? 

First, if you’re not building your own database, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Connect your internal systems, extract as much information as you can and create a database that’s one source of truth.  

Second, invest in communication assets that you own and that your market will value: your website, podcasts, whitepapers, newsletters, videos, research reports, blog posts – they can all be promoted and distributed via email marketing in a controlled environment and to the right people.  

If you’re on socials already, great, we’re not saying abandon them. But perhaps change your goal slightly to include using the channels to help build your database. You’ll be safe in the knowledge that if Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter goes AWOL for any reason, you’re not left out in the cold. 

Best of luck with it all, and if you need a hand with anything, as always, we’re here to help if you want – of course we are very active in both social and emails, but we actually started out as an email specialist in the very early days of the technology, and there wouldn’t be many people who know it better! 

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