There’s been a lot of talk about the decline of email and the rise of social media as the appropriate channel to reach targeted marketing segments. In the online marketing world you would be best served by integrating the two…
Despite the naysayers, email continues to be the single most important channel for business communications according to a number of recent studies. In Part One of this two-part post, I will address why email continues to be very important and why it should become more “social.” In Part Two, I will discuss strategies to better integrate email and social media.
Eighty-two percent of the respondents to an Aweber Communications Survey of 2,500 small and medium sized businesses reported that they plan to increase their email marketing efforts. There’s good reason for these respondents to value email as an online marketing tool.
There are many studies on email and social media use. I will cite a number of them as I discuss this topic.
Among them are a number of studies by Exact Target. Their 2009 Channel Preference Study (latest available) and a series of research white papers with the overall title of Subscribers, Fans and Followers report the following:
- Email influences more conversions than any other online channel. Email messages have caused more than half of consumers to make a purchase.
- Email trails only direct mail and television commercials in terms of driving the direct purchase of products across all age groups.
- Email and direct mail are the preferred choices of 90 percent of consumers for receiving marketing communications.
- Email is fast replacing direct mail communications for “official” functions.
- Email is by far the most popular channel for “permission-based” communications with 93 percent of online consumers across all age groups are email subscribers. That means that 93 percent of online consumers have provided their email address to at least one brand or business.
- Eighty-eight percent of Internet users use email daily.
While social media is fast becoming the preferred channel for interpersonal communications, email remains the preferred way for consumers to receive marketing/business communications. While there are age, persona and gender differences, most consumers are leery of marketing messages sent via social media.
Social media is best used by organizations to engage consumers and to carry on a “conversation” with them. Unlike email where you can segment and provide highly targeted communications, social media requires messages that resonate with a broad range of people.
As the Internet becomes more social, online consumers have become more sophisticated as to how they relate to brands. It requires organizations to take a more integrated media approach to their marketing efforts. Integrated online marketing efforts should closely combine email and social media in a consistent way with a consistent message.
Organizations should also consider using offline marketing efforts, such as direct mail, as part of their overall online marketing campaigns. I recently wrote about integrating direct mail with online efforts. You can find that blog post here:
How important is it and how can you do it?
How Important Is It? A number of studies by GetResponse and Lyris demonstrate effectiveness of this integration effort.
Lyris’ June 2010 survey of North American marketers found that only 6 percent reported that their results were no better after integrating social media and email, while 54 percent reported that their results were somewhat better.
How you integrate social media and email may also be important to producing better results.
GetResponse Email Marketing Trends Study analyzed 500 million emails sent by 19,149 of their customers in 2010. What I like about this report is that it is not a survey of email marketers but rather an analysis of email results. That makes their study objective rather than subjective. Those of us interested in marketing research prefer these kinds of study. Their results found that:
- Only 13.5 percent of GetResponse users included social sharing icons in their emails.
- The average number of social network icons included in email messages was 1.65.
- 60 percent linked to one network and 26 percent linked to two social media networks.
- 14 percent linked to three or more networks.
- Click-Through Rates (CTRs) were 30 percent higher with emails that included links to social networks.
- Messages with only one social media icon returned an average of 8.7 percent CTR while messages with three or more sharing icons generated over 28 percent higher CTR than messages with one icon, and 55 percent higher than messages with no social media sharing icons.
Email and social media marketing are complementary marketing channels. When integrated effectively, they can lead to more conversions. In my next post, I will discuss some ways to integrate social media and email marketing efforts.