Despite All the Buzz, Email Still Trumps Social Media

Much to my dismay, I found myself spending much of my Sunday afternoon in a mall. While I don’t love shopping, I am always amazed by the positioning of brands at this crucial touch point in their relationship with me as a consumer. After stopping at a few stores, it became abundantly clear that brands are still placing much more emphasis on email marketing than social media.

Four of the five stores I stopped at were offering discounts if you signed up to their email list. Only one of the five prominently displayed their social media channels (ie ‘check us out on Facebook/Twitter/YouTube’).

This was reinforced in data published by eMarketer that shows that most consumers still prefer to receive promotions by email. Of all respondents, 37% said their preferred method was Email, followed by Mailers at 23%. Only 9% prefer to receive promotions by Social Media, placing the channel fifth among consumers.

Is this short-sighted?

However, this  may indicate that brands are being too short-sighted. Email promotions offer a very clear and easy to measure ROI. If you measure the ROI of a single promotion on social media, it will likely come in lower than email. In the short-term, email definitely wins.

But this isn’t an ‘apples to apples’ comparison since it doesn’t take into account the long-term impact on consumer loyalty. With the common ‘Please do not reply to this message’ on almost every email campaign, there is much less opportunity to develop a relationship between the brand and the consumer. Social media, on the other hand, is designed around building and maintaining relationships.

The downside is that these relationships are hard to measure, so brands stick with email campaigns.

What do you think? Email or social?

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