Email or Social Media – Which is Right for Reaching your Audience?

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With over two billion users on Facebook and one billion on Instagram, it’s no surprise that many companies choose to market their brand or products on social media. Most communications and marketing professionals would also argue that there are very few reasons why a brand or company shouldn’t have a social media presence. However, recent research shows that more traditional forms of communication like email should not be overlooked.

In fact, a recent survey revealed that some U.S. consumers might favor email over other communications channels. More than half of respondents said their preferred channel of communication from brands is email. Email outranked direct mail (20 percent); brand app, social media and text message (seven percent apiece); and chatbots (three percent).

According to a recent blog post by OptinMonster that discusses email marketing vs. social media performance statistics, email marketing can be more effective than social media on a number of levels, including open/click-through rate. The author also points to a 2016 study which revealed that email marketing delivers a higher overall ROI than social media.

However, Americans receive an average of 121 emails per day. They will quickly dismiss any emails that they don’t find relevant.

To cut through email clutter, it’s essential that audiences find your content relevant. To that end, organizations are placing greater emphasis on offering content that is more personalized, more visual and more insightful. The AMA Wire is a good example of a newsletter that is visual and insightful. Additionally, the National Association of Manufacturer’s Shop Floor blog (note the newsletter serves as a blog digest) regularly features articles around trending news and topics.

When planning content, it’s imperative to address these questions to ensure your content is relevant:

  • What are audiences presently discussing about your issue areas and how can your organization add value to this discussion?
  • What are audiences reading about the topics and how can your company add something that they’re not currently reading?
  • What information are they currently receiving from your organization and what’s missing?

It’s also important that all email content can be quickly scanned. This means subject lines, headlines and teasers all need to be concise and convincing. Subject lines should be less than 40 characters (the shorter the better) and explain the benefit to the recipient. Newsletters should be between three to five articles each. Anything longer than five articles makes it harder to skim through the email.

It’s clear that email marketing is still an effective channel for reaching audiences. However, companies should always weigh the pros and cons of each channel separately as all are not created equal. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that effective marketing and communications strategies in today’s complex communications landscape not only incorporate multiple channels but are also based on what will most effectively allow companies to achieve their objectives.

By Liz Roche, Vice President, Story Partners

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