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Why Email More Effective Than Social Media


March 04, 2024

These days, it’s impossible not to talk about marketing without mentioning social media. This, they say, is the new frontier. More and more people joining social networks every day.


This, we’re told, email marketing is the most effective way in today’s landscape to reach people and market more effectively. But how true is this?  It may not be as much the case as we’re told. So, research shows email marketing is still the far more effective method of getting customers online to your business.


The Influence of Email Compared to Social Media

Marketers today understand the importance of social media marketing to reaching today’s consumers. 83% of them say it’s an important tool for their business. However, email is still a more effective option.


Predictive analytics firm Custora recently released a study which suggests this. According to the study, new customer numbers by email has gone up by 400% in the last four years.


The study ranks acquisition methods. So, the most effective is still organic searching, at 16%, while social media lags by quite a bit.


Facebook, for example, has nearly negligible influence. Twitter is even less effective. So, this suggests that these platforms may only get you a minor percentage of new customers.

Why Trust Email?

More people simply use email. Certainly, it is far more popular than social media in every single age group. 58% of people say checking their email is the first thing they do in the morning. This is compared to 14% for social media. So, these people are far more likely to be task orientated.


This means they want to approach their online time with a goal, like finding new information or promotions. 60% of people will subscribe to email-list for promotions, versus 20% who will follow the brand on social media.


Also, email customers tend to be far more loyal than social media ones. They shop more frequently, and they spend more money. The aforementioned study shows these customers are more valuable than the average by 11%.


Organic search customers are more valuable by 50%. By contrast, Facebook and Twitter are less valuable than the average by a factor of 23%. Additionally, those who bought products over email spent 138% more money than those who did not.


The New Inbox 


BrightWave Marketing’s CEO, Simms Jenkins, says, “Email will always deal with the reputation that it’s passed.” The New Inbox: Why Email Marketing is the Digital Marketing Hub in a Social and Mobile World’s author claims: “It’s not a sexy tool like Pinterest or Instagram or Vine.


But the pendulum has really swung back in the last few years, spurred in part by the recession. People want things that generate revenue, not bright shiny objects.”


So, it’s not that Jenkins believes social media is invaluable, on the contrary. In fact, of the 4.3 million internet users, 80% have social media accounts. Those users hold accounts at an average of 5.5 accounts per person.


Great for Customer Engagement


Therefore, social media is great for customer engagement, he says, just not for sales purposes. “If you have just one bullet left in your gun to sell something, then email should always be the bullet,” he says.


Jenkins’s “New Inbox” of his book’s title is the one that is always on hand, always available. A prime example would be on their mobile devices. People are always checking their email, making it far more likely they’ll see yours, far sooner.


But this also means that your message is crucial. Because people can check email whenever they want, they tend not to pay as much attention. This means you have to grab their attention and hold on. Certainly, you need a powerful message.


Be Careful with Too Much Communication


Firstly, and probably most importantly, you shouldn’t be annoying with your emails. People don’t want a constant barrage of messages clogging their inbox. So, you can counteract this by letting them choose when they receive your messages.


To do this, set up a preferences page so customers can choose their own options. If you do this right, though, you’ll find a new customer. 44% of email recipients will have made at least one purchase in the last year based on a promotional email alone.


Images can quickly elicit emotional responses and even influence the viewer to think a certain way. Describing an image is not as strong as seeing it. With words, you would need time to digest the description whereas an image instantaneously triggers an emotional response.


J. Francis Davis, a media education specialist, said that images are culture’s tools of persuasion. He said they “have become tools used to elicit specific and planned emotional reactions in the people who see them”.


So, this means images do not only communicate quickly. Also, it means they can affect you psychologically and physiologically.


The Benefits in Sales

Emails are very effective in driving sales, as well. 60% of people will admit to buying something based on a marketing push. Only 12.5% will admit to buying over social media.


However, 93.5% of people have made online purchases. This statistic suggests it’s not the fear of online purchases which drives people away from buying over social media.


Instead, emails are often from a brand they trust. The permission-based system utilized by email marketing means that those who receive the emails are interested. So, this means they want to see your promotions and deals.


Social media users will just see the ads and ignore them as they do other ads.


Email Tone and Business Credibility

Also, emails are far different in tone than social media. It’s more formal. People expect to be sold over email. However, social media is more friendly. “On email people want offers,” says Jenkins.


“On Facebook, they want to be more touchy-feely with the brand. On Twitter, they want breaking news and updates. The best brands understand that, instead of sending the same stuff across multiple channels.”


Using this more formal tone with your customers allows you to build credibility. While social media may feel more personalized to readers because of its casual tone, the opposite is true.


Email is far more targeted, making it more personalized. Certainly, it allows for an easier way for your customers to contact you with any questions. On social media, these communications can get lost in the shuffle. This builds trust between you and the customers, making them far more loyal.


Also, this trust means email has a higher rate of customer engagement. One in five marketing emails is opened on average with a click-through rate of 3.57%.


While this doesn’t seem like a lot, the comparative click-through rate on Facebook is only 0.07%.  On Twitter, this goes down to 0.03%.


The Benefits of Email over Social Media

So, why is email so much more effectives in acquisitions than social media? The answer lies in their noble devices. Email marketing is simply more effective when people can check it on their phones. You can offer incentives over email, for example.


Maybe a brand can offer a discount by signing up to their email lists. This builds their email list, and therefore builds their customer base.


Customer Permission

Email’s permission-based format is one of its biggest strengths. The people you send your marketing emails to are the people who want them. So, they already have interest in what you’re selling. And with mobile devices always on hand, you’re sure to reach them at any time of day.


Email is still the first thing most people check when they open their phones. In fact, 91% of people claim they check their email daily. This is often far more often than social media, even for those addicted.


Email Reach and Targeted Marketing


Also, email has a far greater reach than social media does. Social media has an engagement rate of only .58%. Email, on the other hand, reaches 85% of the people you send it to. Also, email is much better for specific targeting when it comes to your consumers.


So, you can target much easier over email. Email allows you to break your list down to specific target demographics. Unless you’re paying for social media ad campaigns, however, you won’t be able to control who you’re reaching.


In addition to the fact you can’t specifically target certain demographics, social media algorithms also hurt your reach. Stuart Marler, of Retriever Digital, states, “If you have 2000 Facebook fans, usually only 2-5 people will see each post you publish.”


In 2014, Facebook’s organic reach was only 6%, according to a study. However, if your page has over 500,000 likes, this gets decreased to 2%. Twitter is not much better. According to Marketing Land’s David Sullivan, only 2% of Twitter followers will see your tweets.

The Hard Numbers


Also, there is a significant difference in conversion rates. Email drives more conversion rates than any other significant method of marketing. This includes social media and searching. This is most likely due to targeting abilities offered by email.


Not only can demographics help you target your marketing, but you can also target by consumer behavior. This makes your marketing more efficient, rather than focusing on sheer numbers.


Also, these numbers include direct transactions. According to Amir Chitayat from OpenMoves, email producers more tangible results than social media marketing. Email generated 1192 direct transactions and 872 assisted transactions.


This is compared to 173 direct transactions and 101 assisted transactions through social media. Not only did email attract more directed than assisted transactions, but it also far outpaced social media.

Greater ROI

Also, email has a far greater ROI: it can be up to 4400%. The median, however, is 122%, which is probably closer to what you could expect.


However, social media’s is only about 28%. This is a very large difference. Email is cheap. So, it is a very inexpensive way to market meaning there will be a very high return on investment.


This makes email a primary marketing force for any business. According to Chitayat, “Email will almost always have a better ROI as it’s less expensive and easy to deploy with very good con versions assuming design and content are following direct practices.”

Customer Expectations of Social Media and Email

One of the most important advantages email marketing has over social media is a combination of its tone and permission-based system. People expect marketing over email. So, they often do not want this over their social media platforms.


People join social media for fun, not to see advertisements. People tend to scroll right past ads without reading them. Also, they get very easily tired of promotional posts. If you promote yourself too much or post too often, people may get annoyed.


So, email on the other hand, is far more direct and marketing based. By now people are used to promotion via email. They don’t mind getting the promotional message and more than likely signed up for the messages.


On social media, they often don’t sign up to be hounded by ads. Instead, use social media as a tool for engagement and less for marketing. Certainly, email marketing system is far more effective in this area and these marketing campaigns will be far better received.

Security and Customer Trust

One of the most important things on the minds of consumers is, of course, security. So, email will always have the upper hand over social media in the realm of security.


You own your email list; you don’t have to share any of your consumer’s private data with anyone. Your social media followers, however, are not as lucky.


In addition to data mining shown recently to be rampant in social media, social media is not a guaranteed success. MySpace shut down only a few years after its prime.


Also, your account may be shut down for a variety of reasons. For these reasons alone you should at least keep email as a backup plan.

The Importance of Email Optimization



While mobile devices can help optimize email marketing, it can also hurt it. Up to 40% of all emails are read via mobile devices and smartphones. This requires specific coding so they will be attractive to a mobile reader. 70% of all customers will unsubscribe to an email list if it looks bad on a mobile screen.


“If you don’t optimize email, if you let it languish in favor of those cool new tools out there, your business will suffer,” says Jenkins. “I’m still surprised that in 2013 some people are just blasting out a monthly email to their subscribers.


Too many people are chasing the new thing instead of investing in the thing that really works, which is email. Email is more important than ever, not less. And those who leverage email most effectively will be the big winners.”

On the Other Hand: The Advantages (and Pitfalls) of Social Media


Also, social media has an advantage in the case of viral marketing. When a post goes viral, you’ll reach far more followers than just your own consumer base. Even just someone sharing your content with their followers will result in more people seeing it.


Certainly, this will give you far more exposure than email would. However, going viral is extremely rare, and very difficult. If you’re counting on a viral marketing campaign, you may want a backup plan.


Also, while social media has found success through influencer marketing, this can be extremely expensive. Additionally, these platforms are also rife with fake followers. So, these make it look like your brand is doing well but you will not see the expected return on your profits.


Email, on the other hand, guarantees that everyone you are sending emails to will receive them and want to receive them. Certainly, it’s a far more reliable way to gain customers, and not just followers.


6. What Does This All Mean?

Social Media has become a juggernaut in today’s technological world. With almost everyone owning an account and the younger generation’s growing release on it, it’s difficult to ignore.


Social media does provide a useful tool for outreach and engagement. It’s friendly, casual, and allows you to easily reach consumers on a less formal basis. So, it allows customers to get to know you.


However, when it comes to results, it is clear that email is still king. Email has a far better reach, mostly due to social media algorithm’s and people’s reliance on email. So, there is a far larger conversion rate, higher click through rate, and higher ROI through email.


Email subscribers have chosen to join your email list. They want to hear your promotions and has the intent of potentially buying something.


Emails are far more targeted and allow for a far more personalized approach than the general social media platform. This makes it far more likely to produce actual purchases. Certainly, it gives you reliable customers.



Social media might be growing but email marketing is still the foundation on which your marketing campaign should build. It is simple, efficient, and effective. Statistics prove it is far better in terms of reach and capabilities than social media.


The race does not come close. Therefore, social media marketing is a very important too that you should utilize to your advantage. This is true.


Certainly, there are still plenty of benefits to using social media in both marketing and engagement. But this should not be your focus. In order to build a strong, reliable base that yields results, you’ll be far more successful through an email marketing.


So, what do you think about this? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Article written by

Ryan Johnson

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