A few weeks a client was debating whether to continue his email marketing program or shift his efforts to social media.
My client is not alone. Many businesses struggle with where to focus their marketing efforts. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media platforms appeal to them for many valid reasons. And social media’s allure leads many to assume they should abandon email.
My advice to those considering email versus social media: You need to do both.
If you want to reach adults online, aim for the inbox. More than 92 percent of adult internet users have at least one active email account, according to the Pew Research Center. By comparison, 65% of adult internet users visit social media sites.
How often do you check your email? If you check often, you’re not alone. About 72 percent of email users check their inboxes six more times per day, according to the email service provider iContact.
Email drives sales. Two out of every three online Americans have purchased something as a result of an email marketing message, according to 2012 survey conducted by marketing company Exact Target.
Do you want to retain customers and drive repeat sales? Again, email delivers. In a 2012 study of ecommerce sales trends, Forrester Research, Inc. reported that 30% of online transactions by repeat shoppers started with a click on an email from the retailer.
“While there has been speculation in recent years that the advent of social networks would kill the email marketing industry, nothing has turned out to be further from the truth,” says the Forrester Report. “Email remains very much alive, and companies need to continue to focus on email acquisition as well as email optimization to thrive.”
Email also drives offline sales. Because you can create rich messages with unlimited text, images, video links, and other content, you can deliver greater value to your subscribers. Because you can personalize messages, you can forge stronger ties with readers.
Because you can track who opens your emails and who clicks which links, you can separate true prospects from suspects. This allows you to focus your time and energy on those most likely to buy.
My point here is not to tout email while dismissing social media. Social media has many strengths. But you'll undermine your business if you abandon email.
This article first appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly for which Tom Ruwitch writes a monthly column.