Let’s start with a pop quiz.
For most companies, the first step in conducting online marketing is to _________.
Know the answer? Any guesses? If you’ve ever planned any kind of marketing campaign it is, of course: Decide how to spend their money.
In the world of digital marketing, it’s a debate as old as time. Well, not quite. But it’s certainly as old as the social media platforms.
Where should you spend your time and money to get the highest ROI? Should your marketing strategy prioritise the new school of likes, shares and social media ads? Or is old school inbox infiltration still your safest bet for lead generation?
Email vs Social Media Marketing.
We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of email marketing and social media to help you maximise the impact of your marketing efforts.
Read on for the verdict (and to learn a secret from the advertising pros, which we reckon will supercharge your digital marketing regardless of which route you pick).
What’s so great about Social Media Marketing?
With ever-increasing user figures, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer the potential for brands to reach massive audiences. The internet is awash with examples of brands that scored thousands of new followers with a single viral tweet.
But the brands that excel at social media marketing don’t stop there — they regularly interact with their followers, building their reputation as personable, trustworthy, and worthy of long-term loyalty. Unlike with email marketing, social media users will tolerate brands making contact multiple times per day. They’ll even tolerate you sharing the same blog posts a few times – if you do it creatively.
This is really important, as it’s that repeat exposure that builds brand recognition and makes your brand the first thing that comes to mind when they need a particular product or service.
Social media is flexible, too. Most platforms offer the option to reach a specific target audience through paid promotion and sophisticated advertising tools, but you can also build a huge audience for free by maximising organic reach. Whichever approach you choose, content is key. At its heart, social media marketing is content marketing, and in order to achieve success on social media, brands need to provide content that inspires, informs and entertains.
It’s the content that makes us smile or laugh that gets the retweet, or makes us invite a friend to like the Facebook page. If you can entertain your social media audience, you’ll reap the rewards without spending a cent on paid post promotion.
What are the difficulties of Social Media Marketing?
Despite the enormous potential for cultivating a large audience and establishing your brand’s public image, evaluating the success of your social media channels is harder than it looks.
Unlike email marketing, there’s no consistently proven way to track social media ROI. If you’re hoping to give a presentation to the boardroom that shows how your social media marketing plan has driven sales and delivered a huge return on investment in cold hard figures — well, good luck.
What you’ll want to do instead is demonstrate how you’ve used social media to cultivate a large audience and establish the brand’s public image, ideally driving traffic to the next stage of the sales funnel.
Problem is, social media users are savvy. Everyone hates being sold to, and we’re constantly bombarded with all kinds of shiny, attractive content every time we log on or open the app.
Are you going to invest time, budget and creative energy to ensure you can publish engaging and entertaining content that stands out? Are you using social media to post branded content that people actually want to engage with? If the answer is anything other than ‘Hell yeah!’, maybe skip that presentation and work up a new CV.
Ok, so what has Email Marketing still got going for it?
The main advantage of email marketing is still, as ever, its potential to turn your email subscribers into paying customers.
The figures vary depending on who you ask, but the consensus among digital marketers is that open rates for marketing emails are much higher than the percentage of your social media following that will even see your posts, let alone interact with them. And unlike social media, it’s a straightforward task to track and prove the ROI of an email campaign.
You can even A/B test your marketing emails — sending different versions with a different subject line to each half of your email list — to evaluate their comparative success against whichever metric matters most to you (let’s be honest, it’s sales). This arms you with the data you’ll need to optimise return on investment going forward. Sure, A/B testing is possible on social media too, but only when you start to invest heavily in paid advertising.
Even in 2020, when many companies focus primarily on social media marketing, a well-written email campaign is still the most direct way to cultivate a relationship with your customers. Of course, the content of those emails is crucially important.
Email marketing gives you an opportunity to deliver entertaining and engaging content that your audience will love (and love you for), direct to their inboxes. Assuming you’re willing to invest some creative energy into doing that, you’ll make your newsletters the ones they check their email for, and you’ll be well on your way towards securing their repeat custom.
Don’t tell me — Email Marketing presents challenges too, right?
Well, yes. You’ll have to cultivate an email list in the first place, otherwise who are you going to send your newsletters to? This is where your social media platforms can act as the top of a sales funnel that pushes audiences to part with their email addresses and sign up for your email campaigns. You’ll also have to ensure that you comply with privacy and data collection laws.
However, the far greater challenge is going to sound very familiar. It’s also the biggest challenge faced by social media marketers, and it’s the flipside of email marketing’s biggest strength…
You have to create content that people want to engage with.
Emails with boring, sales-heavy headlines don’t get opened. Emails with badly written, dull or overly pushy body copy don’t get read. Emails without any gripping visual content don’t hold the reader’s attention, and emails that don’t win us over don’t get us to engage with their CTA (Call to Action).
So what should Digital Marketers do?
If you had to pick one or the other, we’d recommend prioritising email marketing over social media. Executed well, with an approach that combines strategy and creativity, an old school email campaign is still the most likely to deliver the ROI you’re after. That’s why email is still more effective than social media marketing
But of course, there’s no such thing as email marketing vs social media. You don’t have to choose just one. And you shouldn’t. It’s not email or social media, it’s email and social media.
Your digital marketing strategy should combine social media marketing and email marketing, playing each marketing channel to its strengths. You’ll use your social channels to engage new audiences and boost brand recognition; you’ll use email to generate leads and sales.
However, neither approach will be effective without a solid marketing message, and content that entertains your audiences.
Remember five minutes ago, at the top of this article, when we promised to share a secret used by the advertising pros? It’s a secret you can use in both your social media and email marketing strategies to reach, and convert, the maximum number of people. Well, here it is…
Make them laugh
What’s the surest way to encourage an email subscriber to open your email, read it all the way through, and click the buttons you desperately want them to click? Make them laugh.
It’s only human. We hate to be sold to, but we love to be entertained. If you can disguise your sales message as entertainment, your audience will absorb it with their guard down.
TV advertisers have known this for decades — just think about how many of the ads you see on TV are funny, or at least trying to be. The same principle applies to digital marketing.
In this new world of on-demand content and ad-blockers, where audiences increasingly choose what they do and don’t want to see, you need to provide content they’ll actively seek out and share with others. This is why comedy content is king on social media, too.
True, comedy is a craft that requires a big dollop of talent, and an even bigger dollop of practice. Many in-house marketing departments, agencies and freelance copywriters reckon they can pull it off. Most of them fail.
White Label Comedy is a digital marketing agency powered by a hive mind of comedy writers. We specialise in creating social media and email marketing content that audiences can’t resist — so if you want to see better results from your email campaigns, or your social media marketing, you should book a call and say hi.