Is Social Media More Cost-Effective than Email Marketing?
Ask Silver Bullet: June 2017
The phenomenal growth of social media and claims made by advocates as to its effectiveness often leaves the impression that every other single form of marketing is no longer of use and only promoted by dinosaurs and those believing in the flat world theory.
Despite the incredibly impressive statistics of social media - Facebook has 1.86 billion users, YouTube gets almost 5 billion views a day, LinkedIn has 467 million users and Twitter has 320 million users as of April 2017 - email marketing is still one of the most effective means of reaching a potential market for the simple reason that you’re not posting a message on a site in the hope that someone will see it and react, rather you’re delivering that message directly into a person’s inbox - even if the recipient doesn’t open it, they’ll know who it comes from and see the subject. On social media, however, you have no guarantee that they’ll even see your post never mind react to it.
The problem that this causes, however, is that there’s a temptation to then increase your contact list by purchasing a data base and sending out what in essence is spam as the persons on the purchased data base have shown no previous interest in your product or service, despite how closely YOU feel they match your customer profile - the best description I’ve ever heard of this is bad-mannered marketing, akin to a brand inviting itself into someone else’s party or home when they may well not be welcome visitors!
It is therefore far better, if possible, to organically grow your own database through great content or offering incentives which can be promoted across different media channels - it’s the modern equivalent of the old White Paper where valuable facts and figures or learned opinion on some topic was exchanged for postal addresses and other data - it’s just a lot easier now.
However, the next most common fallacy is that either Social Media or Email Marketing is free - it’s not. You’ll either be spending your own time, asking your staff to spend their time, hiring an additional employee or subcontracting it to an external agency, but whichever route you choose, it’s not without a cost and you’ll be looking for a return on your investment. Before you therefore start then, workout exactly what RoI you are wanting and remember this isn’t necessarily immediate additional sales or revenue but could be longer term as in acquiring new leads or email subscriptions or simply boosting customer satisfaction levels to increase retention.
So the next question is what message do you send? The choice of content is dependent on your target market but there’s a few general tips you may find useful - firstly, keep it short. The maximum time you’re going to keep the recipient’s attention is under 20 seconds so you have to get your message or messages across with in that time. Secondly, emailing another person is akin to a conversation to a friend so you don’t want to come across as the second hand car dealer with a hard sell - make it friendly and informative.
A digital newsletter is often a useful tool with brief synopses of various stories which then lead back to the full story on your own website - allowing recipients the choice of following up the basic facts or not and giving you perfect data through Google Analytics as to what interests them, in addition to boosting your web site traffic which naturally helps your SEO. Similarly, an unsubscribe option on your emails is not only good digital manners but allows you to clean your database effortlessly, whilst a referral incentive allows you to increase it.
Another question is whether it’s better to use HTML coded messages or plain text? Investment in eye-catching graphic design to me is always worth it - your message reflects your brand so if you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, make sure all your marketing collateral looks great. Yes, it may cost more but in the long run you’ll gain far greater engagement levels than plain text emails but maybe the best way is to have a go and see what works best for yourself?
Finally, it’s worth considering integrating the two and making your social media and email marketing work together - but maybe more of that for another day…
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