I remember when Facebook and Twitter were first introduced, the people around me were trying to grasp this new era in online communication and audience reach. Social networking websites had always been around, like Myspace, but creative innovation has turned these channels into becoming major online communication centers. They gave new users the ability to engage and converse with people they haven’t talked to in years and introduced them to new people that could change their lives forever. The idea of being able to reach millions of people around the world just by “friending” or “following” them online seemed intoxicating!

The changing online atmosphere caused businesses to create a few social media profiles to stay relevant and connected with their potential customers. Professional marketers started to develop social media marketing strategies to grow their businesses.

With social media on the rise, traditional ways of marketing were speculated to soon die out, like email marketing. Remember AOL? It was one of the first signs of the emerging internet world. It allowed average people daily access to the public internet and gave users a new form of communication, emailing. I remember using AOL when I was a young teen. Heck, my father still uses his first AOL email account! But by the early 2000’s AOL started to decline and it was predicted that this new form of communication would soon decline years later.

In 2015, does email marketing still bring in large profitable results to businesses in this growing social media age?

An Important Learning Experience

Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, was able to grow a large following base for his blog where he gives great marketing, business, and customer psychology advice to emerging entrepreneurs. He wanted to learn what was easier to gain: new social media followers or email subscribers? To do this, he directed 1,000 visitors to his email opt-in and another 1,000 to his Twitter page. His results: He received 500 new email subscribers, a 50% conversion rate, and only a very few Twitter followers! Twitter failed to bring new promising leads compared to his email landing page. This is why building a massive email list is Halpern’s #1 advice to new business owners.

Email is the Most Effective E-Commerce Channel

In 2013, Monetate’s E-commerce Quarterly released their Q1 e-commerce holiday shopping season report. After analyzing more than 500 million shopping adventures, they found out that email marketing had higher conversion and referral rates than social media.

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Over the years of analyzing activity, they see that email has consistently had the highest conversion rates.

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In a more recent study, the 2014 Marketing Sherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, showed that email marketing trumps social media on generating e-commerce traffic.

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As the revenue in online stores increases, so does the use of email marketing. Email marketing has increased up to more than 70% while social media use decreased to below 40%. So to respond to the traffic, companies are investing more of their budget to it.

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I’m Not Saying to Forget Social Media…

I think social media is a great and rewardable tool, but it doesn’t bring as much ROI when compared to email marketing. Did you know that email conversion rates are 40x higher than those of Facebook and Twitter? Or in 2013, there was about 4 billion worldwide email accounts? In 2017, there should be about 5 billion accounts? This overly exceeds the total amount Facebook and Twitter accounts combined! There are people with only a few thousand Twitter followers but have an over 10K+ email subscriber list, where they can effectively sale their products and build their client list. Social media has allowed people to communicate broader than ever before, but its innovation can’t match email marketing’s targeted customer and interest approach.