Social Media vs. Email Marketing. Which One is Better and Why?

Can't decide where to allocate your business marketing resources, social media, or email marketing? Jump into this comprehensive guide to learn more about the pros and cons of each marketing channel and which will give you the highest ROI.

Edvina Nesukaityte
Updated on

Social Media vs. Email marketing – a debate that has been going on for too long and needs to have a final verdict now.

Since marketing practices are evolving with every passing day, it’s becoming harder to decide where to allocate your energy and time to be the most effective in achieving the highest ROI.

Moreover, considering that over 3.6 billion active social media users worldwide, you might also be confused about whether that count gives social media marketing an edge over email marketing or not? 

While social media offers a broad channel to interact with your audience, it is not solid enough to turn them into your customers. 

However, that doesn’t mean social media marketing is totally ineffective either. It is not just as good as email marketing for achieving maximum ROI.

To bring this discussion to a fact-backed conclusion, I have jotted down some important facts that will help you decide which marketing campaign will suit your business the most and which one deserves most of your time and attention.

What is email and social marketing?

Before we get into the details, let’s have a preview of what the terms email and social media marketing refer to and how they work. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing refers to using social media means like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or Pinterest, etc., to promote your business’s products or services, gain credibility, and drive traffic to your site. 

It offers a profitable organic reach as people nowadays are addicted to sharing anything they find relatable. 

So, the more they share your content, the more your business has chances of growth! – A total win-win situation if you learn how to make the best use of it. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing is all about creating brand awareness via email, as evident by the name. This is done by sending out emails to the people who have intentionally signed up to receive promotional content from your business/company. 

Contrary to social media marketing, email marketing lets you convey a personalized message to your target audience. You can use data collected by CRM platforms like Klaviyo to get your hands on information that can help you curate the right message for the right person. 

From my personal experience working in social and email, I believe email is a winner here. Email marketing also allows clear communication between the two parties (the company and customer), leaving the chances of any queries unanswered negligible to none. It also helps to close the loop by communicating directly with each customer, leading them all the way through their customer journey

This way needs of every individual customer are catered to, resulting in more trust-building. 

So be it B2C or B2B business, email marketing strategy works well for both. 

Sadly, the majority of businesses nowadays focus on social media campaigns; little do they know email marketing offers a way more solid return on investment. 

Which one is better?

Neither is worse or better than the other.

As marketing specialists, most of us know how social media works and that it offers a gateway to broaden your audience and grow your customer list. However, everyone is trying to become a part of this bandwagon nowadays. This had made it saturated, and it can be hard to separate yourself from the rest in such circumstances. 

Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

Now that we have discussed how both the campaigns work, it’s time we understand the key differences. 

ROI 

Calculating the return on investment of social media marketing is nearly impossible because no patent method has yet been derived to determine how your social media appearance helps grow the business. And this can be frustrating as all you can keep track of is likes, comments, and shares but not how it benefits the company. 

Whereas, that’s not the case with email marketing strategy since email automation tools like Klaviyo allow you to see how your audience engages with your content. 

Platforms like Klaviyo cover pretty much everything you need to calculate how much revenue each email generates – e.g., click-through and open rates, for starters.

I love data and am very passionate about numbers, so after working in social media for a couple of years, I got frustrated because I couldn’t find a way to track my process and link likes, shares, and comments with revenue. I enjoyed creating content and seeing that people enjoy it, but it was frustrating not seeing how it benefits the business and how much revenue it generates. However, email marketing is an entirely different world, allowing me to track the performance of each email and flow, and see how much revenue each email generates.

Track Prospects and Customers Behavior

A marketing campaign can bear no desired results if you can’t figure out what your audience needs and likes. And, by likes, I’m not referring to the social media likes because those mere “thumbs up” do not promise a quality interaction between your content and the audience concerning their requirements.

Even with all the data provided regarding how many times your content was shared and paid attention to, you can never understand the pattern of their journey from your social media handle to your site.

Whereas, in email marketing, you can see exactly how and what your customers interact with, what they like and what they tend to ignore, and how they respond to your campaign. You can track their activity and understand their behavior by monitoring how they were pulled into making a purchase. 

And on learning about all of that, you’ll have a higher chance of turning prospects into loyal customers that continue trusting your services/products!

Personalized Content

Social media marketing doesn’t allow much control once you’re done posting the content. It shows up to random people that might have little to no interest in what you’re trying to sell. And despite having an idea of what they might like, you can never know for sure what information do they need to make a purchase.

In short, it is nearly impossible to create personalized content via social media means. 

Email marketing strategy, on the other hand, offers more control and allows you to create personalized content that would best suit your audience’s needs, increasing the chance of converting them into your loyal customers.

Let’s consider an example here for a better understanding. 

Suppose your company sells coffee. You can collect helpful information about your customers via platforms like Klaviyo and find out which coffee products they are most interested in. 

And, on figuring that out, you can send them emails containing recommendations specifically tailored to their needs. 

This way, a coffee drinker who prefers decaf coffees will get different emails than one who likes a regular cappuccino.

Everyone who has a social media account has an email address

Here’s a fun fact – email users are more in number than social media users because every person who’s either on Instagram or Facebook has an email id, without which he wouldn’t have been able to sign up in the first place. 

Therefore, you shouldn’t turn your focus entirely on social media marketing just because you think that a lot of people use it. 

Although the increasing number of followers seems fascinating and can have you thinking that you’re influencing a colossal audience, remember it is just a smokescreen because it won’t help you pay your bills! Moreover, not having direct distribution to those people is also a big con (unless you spend a lot of money on direct advertising).

However, email marketing can be way more fruitful because it does not only let you connect with your audience one-to-one but also track everything they do. From what links they open to what things they search for and what content they read, you can have all the necessary knowledge to be strategic.

Takeaway – Social Media vs. Email Marketing: Which one is better? 

Both marketing channels are beneficial in their own ways. Successful marketers implement both techniques mindfully and make them supplement and enrich each other.

To do well in both, you need to be creative and consistent in your efforts. BUT! Most importantly, you should understand your audience’s needs – something that email marketing offers viable options for.

Although social media is also a great platform to create a variety of content that can be used in email marketing and recycled multiple times, you’re not advised to exhaust all your resources trying to get the most out of it.

Because, as I mentioned earlier, email marketing has the highest ROI of all marketing channels. So, by not implementing it into your marketing strategy, you’ll be missing out on the benefits you can enjoy of the email list you already have!

Therefore, maintain a balance between the two, keep your primary focus on email marketing, and keep posting some engrossing content on your social media page now and then too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Social media marketing disadvantages?

  • Social media marketing is more about lead generation, while email marketing gives you the chance to convert those leads into sales by nurturing relationships with your audience directly. 
  • It would certainly be expensive in the long run as you’ll have to spend a lot paying for advertisement and social management tools.

What are the benefits of email marketing?

Following are the two main benefits of Email marketing strategy:

  • It yields unbeatable results concerning ROI.
  • It allows you to create personalized content best suited to your audience’s interests.

What is the conversion rate for email marketing?

According to the latest statistics, the current average email conversion rate is 15.22%.

What is the ROI on email marketing in 2022?

Email marketing strategy offers an ROI higher than any other form of marketing. For instance, by spending 1 dollar on your email marketing campaign, you can earn a profit of up to $36!

I hope this has been a helpful read for you. Have any questions? Feel free to drop them in the comment box below. 

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