Better ROI: EMail Marketing or Social Media Marketing?


Marketing is critical to growing brand awareness, regardless of industry–and technology has had an immense impact on marketing methods over the past few decades. We can reach people instantly with our messages–wherever they may be–and we can reach them through a wide variety of channels, such as social media, apps and email marketing.

Experts suggest that there are over 40 marketing channels that brands must manage today, and that can become overwhelming to even the most savvy marketers. However, one of the very first technology channels is consistently outperforming others–email marketing. And when combined with other channels, such as social media and search, email marketing is a powerful tool that can provide great return on investment–when done correctly.

Several marketing research experts have conducted studies on the impact of email marketing campaigns on a company or organization’s success. These researchers discovered that the emergence of smartphones has resulted in an increase in checking email inboxes. According to one study, there were 1.76 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2014, and experts believe that number will jump to 2.04 billion at the end of this year. Just over half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, but 68 percent of email on popular mail servers like Gmail and Yahoo! mail was opened via smartphone or tablet. This number continues to grow out of convenience. On average, users spend 20 percent of their day using their smartphones — checking them a whopping 110 times primarily for e-mail and social media notifications.

Email marketing continues to grow as well. Over one quarter of sales were conducted on smartphones (26.7 percent), with tablets (23.1 percent), and desktops (20.9 percent) just behind. It is reasonable to expect this gap to continue to grow, as smartphones are portable enough for convenience and checking on the go. However, mobile optimization is a must as leaders in email marketing advise that three quarters of emails get discarded when not designed for mobile devices.

In recent years, social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have come on to the scene – each with its own purpose and functionality. While many would believe traditional emails to be obsolete and far less instantaneous than social media, data projections from 2013-2016 suggest the number of email accounts will grow dramatically. In 2013, there were 3.6 billion active email accounts worldwide, and experts believe that number will grow to 4.6 billion accounts by 2016. In comparison, 2013 data shows that there were just 1.26 billion Facebook accounts, and 646 million Twitter accounts. Even if those were to be combined they still would not equal the number of email accounts in existence.

Furthermore, several experts have confirmed the tremendous return on investment of email marketing. Researchers have calculated that for every $1 spent on email marketing, companies and organizations on average receive over $44 in return. This return on investment of 4300 percent is a tremendous benefit for companies and organizations with aspirations to grow.

Despite the huge discrepancy in usage between email users and social media users, both services are critical in launching a successful and scalable marketing plan in today’s world. While there is some overlap, use of both services can help bridge the generational gap between Generation X and Millennials and increase the reach of the audience and message. Social media platforms have become the go to source of communication and information for millennials. In addition, social media platforms are very beneficial because they give consumers direct access to organizations and vice versa, to build a community or network of supporters.

While social media can serve as a great complement to email marketing, there is no question which one is still king.