Email Marketing and Social Media: The Fight is On

There has been a prize-fight raging for years, and both sides have been down for the count, but the contest continues. However, a time is coming when these two can continue no more: one must survive – right? Well, uh no not quite.

Should you replace email marketing with social media? There is a lot of buzz around social media, and how it can be used both as a social tool, and a business tool. And there’s a lot of buzz around email marketing – can it really survive in this new technological world?

In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using email marketing and social media.

*dingding* Innnnnn the red corner, we have social media, a relatively new comer to the game, but boy can they throw a nasty punch. Round 1…

1. Crowdsourcing

On social media, the majority of people you will come across are friendly and helpful. Ask a question, ask for a RT, or a social share, and within minutes you’ll have responses. Email can be used to gather information, it is especially useful when getting information from your existing customers, but if you need to take quick action and see result immediately, then social media is for you.

2. Personal recommendations

People trust people. Users will be more likely to trust a personal recommendation, such as on LinkedIn, rather than an overly generous paragraph about how good you are on your website.

3. Quick suggestions

Gathering suggestions is quick and simple on social media, as said in point 1. But these suggestions should be taken with a pinch of salt. Suggestions should be taken into consideration but conduct your own research as well.

4. You’re on public display

The social media space has created new issues for brands – the irate customer who does not refrain from voicing his opinions to everyone on every social site. This is good and bad.

If an unhappy customer takes to twitter to slam your company, you need to move in fast. If they are posting their opinions on social media, it will give your brand an extra push to react promptly and in the correct manner. Whereas if someone sent you an angry email, you may not respond as quickly or in the same way. Social media pushes your brand into the limelight, and all eyes will be on you to see how you respond.

5. Testimonials count

Consumer experience is now a key differentiator between competitors. Feedback about any given company can be found in black and white, all over the web, and users will read this before they consider buying anything from you. Use both good and bad feedback to enhance your services. If someone says something negative about you, don’t get annoyed; use it as an opportunity to show off your fantastic public relations skills.

6. Instant interaction

As our social and online presence grows, our patience seems to be running out. We want to be ‘in touch’ with other people, instead of just absorbing information. We want to produce, interact and share our content, and we want it now. Social media allows you to act straight away.

7. Poor attention spans

Our increasing online presence is reducing our attention spans. If we don’t know the answer to a question, we simply ask Google. For this reason, when communicating with others on social media sites, it’s best to keep it short and sweet (luckily Twitter restricts our characters anyway!), and demand immediate reaction.

8. We have a fear of missing out

This is the main reason for a growth in ‘social media addiction’. Social networking ensures we are informed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By being connected to social networks, there’s no need to wait for a response to an email.


*dingding* Aaaaaand in the blue corner, it’s email marketing, a veteran in the engagement and sales game. Watch out for that left hook. Round 2…

1. Privacy and professionalism

The first email was sent in 1971, and since then it has proven itself as a tested method of communication. It is a closed system, and emails rarely end up in the wrong place or get lost. Unless you were born after 1995, you will probably understand how email gives a user a ‘personal touch’. It requires more effort than social media, and is strongly connected with the essence of professionalism and business.

For those of us who have bought into the idea of social media, sending someone a business message over LinkedIn doesn’t cause any problems, but for many business owners email is the way to deal with business.

2. Email allows you to do more

An email management system allows you to do more in one place – control your calendar, tasks and contacts. We could argue that services such as iCloud and Google Docs do the same thing, but it means have multiple accounts open at one time. Most mainstream organisations rely on the familiar, traditional systems that have worked for years. When you have a large workforce, implementing new systems is hard, unless you have the correct strategy and training plans in place. Some large organisations will avoid the inevitable and only make the switch when they have to.

3. Encrypted email is more secure

A direct message (DM) or private message (PM) on a social networking site may seem private, but it is not always 100% secure. Human error can lead to private messages becoming public, or ending up in the wrong inbox. Of course human error plays a part in email, but it can be hard to send an email incorrectly if you have a specific email address.

4. An email address is necessary

What do you need to log into a social media site? An email address. Without an email address, users couldn’t log in. Of course, a lot of social sites are now interlinked, and you can usually log in with your Facebook or Twitter account, but ultimately, an email address is needed.

5. Email works across many platforms

With the increase of social networking APIs, we have access to our favourite platforms using different APIs, such as Hootsuite. We can multi-function and multi-task, connect social accounts together and feed from one to another. Email is also available across multiple platforms, without any distractions!

6. Ownership

Email gives a clear communication thread. When an email is sent, the content is generally the responsibility of the sender, but on social media sites the ownership can be blurred to an extent. It can be hard to determine who created content, and who is who, as usernames take over real names.

7. Company policies

Certain organisations (usually the larger ones) will have a strict social media policy. If they do, the social media is usually left to a specific group of people, and access will be blocked for other staff members. I’m sure almost every member of staff will have a dedicated email address.


The fight raged on for 12 rounds, and the judges have scored the bout a draw.

Social media is very useful – no one can argue against that. But there comes a point when it becomes unsocial. Social media makes you lose some of your privacy, and may breed regret if you post something spontaneously that you haven’t thought through. Too much time spent on social media can lead to reduced self-esteem and depression.

Social media use within companies is on the increase as they begin to realise how they can increase communication and collaboration and create an informal setting which helps boost morale.

Email Marketing is still a major money maker for companies – for every £1 spent on email marketing, the average return is £21 (eConsultancy), and is the second highest earning marketing tool after Pay Per Click adverts on search engines.

Email gives a more personal experience, and social media sites do what they say they will – link people together socially. Both email marketing and social media can work together, but it’s up to businesses to learn how to use both together, and which content is suitable for each service.

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