The Pros and Cons of Email and Social to market your business

When you’re a small business deciding how best to promote yourself can be a tad scary! You have a small budget but what do you do with it, and, how do you work out if what you choose actually leads to more business? Social media has fast become a key marketing tool for any business and there is a plethora of stats to show that people are using it to form opinions of what, when or how to buy. However, email marketing still has the highest return on investment (ROI), so the question isn’t “which is right for me?” but actually how can I do both? And, how can I do it effectively?! Recent figures from Statista suggest that there are approximately 3.7 Billion email users globally, while the most from a social media platform is  about 2.3 Billion. Given the huge numbers of users for both email and social, it can be a minefield understanding which platform to use and for what.  The key to this is understanding the pros and cons to each and planning!

Number of global users per platform (source: Statista)

Email Marketing

Based on subject lines alone, an average of 35% will open it. Compare that to Facebook’s 2% reach. Email marketing can achieve 50-100 times the click-through rates than Facebook and Twitter, provided the email database is up to date and correct for the companies you are targeting. All of this means email should get you more traffic to your website. Emails also tend to feel more personal – you know your customers and can tailor, personalise and write your content to reflect your buyers. This means the recipient is likely to open the email; potentially already expecting a sales pitch, and, as such are likely to be in a frame of mind that is open to being approached by you.  With email, your subscribers expect to receive offers and educational content, so it’s imperative that you deliver. You want your customers to look forward to your emails rather than simply deleting them, or worse; hitting the unsubscribe button!
In a word; Spam. Your emails could very well land in the spam folder and never get seen – even if that person has opted-in to receiving them. You need to follow best practice to try and avoid this situation, and there are services available to ensure you get your email addresses ‘accepted’ by organisations – but even then, it’s not always possible. As for blanket emails to unknown prospects – the ‘spray and pray’ technique as it’s known – given the new GDPR legislation changes discussed below, you have at best a very limited chance of hitting a decent prospect. Even less that they respond or engage.  Laws against spamming and “opting in/ opting out” are now more stringent than ever thanks to the new GDPR regulations that came into effect in May this year. Understanding the basics of these new GDPR laws is essential; the last thing you need is your domain blacklisted or reported, and having a fine equal to 4% of turnover or £20million, whichever is greater! So, make sure you have explicit consent from customers to send them marketing messages. If you don’t, you could be breaking the law.

Social Media

Great for communicating with customers and target audiences quickly,  as well as getting offers out to a wider audience instantly, (perfect if you run a salon and have had a cancellation for example). Social media also offers the chance for your followers to share your posts, generating a wider reach for your marketing efforts! When it comes to content sharing, Facebook is still the best platform, with 57% of activity versus other platforms. All major social media sites have analytics, so you can find out how your activities are performing and make tweaks to get the most out of how you use the platform. Social media is great for brand awareness and initial engagement to find new potential customers. Emails can’t do this – as discussed above, were it still legal to send blanket emails to unknown contacts; they’ve always had an exceptionally low open rate – if they even get past the firewall and spam filter…! And as for customers that are known to you, it defeats the object if they are already aware of your brand (and a customer of yours).
Your content might not be seen by your target audience; your timing might be out, and they miss the offer you’re promoting. As a result, this means that the conversion rates on social media are very low (typically well below 3%). Obviously engagement rates rise if you are using paid advertising available directly from the platform, but the cost of what was a free marketing tool suddenly then becomes a little more expensive! So which do we recommend? Both actually! A good email strategy will help convert your prospects further down the sales funnel, through offers and ‘value add’ content, while a good social strategy will raise interest in your brand and help push your prospects deeper into the sales funnel. Both can be used in combination to support communications with your existing, new and prospect customers. At Digital Luminance we can help small and large businesses get the right mix of email and social media marketing – Click here to drop us a line and discuss how we can help your business grow.
Tim Hymans

Author Tim Hymans

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