Is it a knockout or a points decision?
Last year Mark Zuckerberg spoke out against email marketing claiming that in the future, email will be replaced by message-based services such as Facebook. While it’s true that we now have more choice when it comes to our preferred method of communication, this doesn’t mean that email no longer has a place. In fact, research has shown that the use of email in our marketing and CRM activities has grown significantly over the past few years. And let’s not forget that in order to sign up to Facebook you still need an email address.
According to a report produced by Royal Pingdom, Internet 2011 in numbers, there were more than 2.2bn email users in 2011 and 3.4bn email accounts, this figure growing by 500m. According to Radicati, this number is expected to grow to 4.1bn by the end of 2015.
There is always a tendency when new technologies come along to throw out the old in favour of the new. Email is often seen as out of date and its value diminished by the exciting opportunities that social media appears to open up.
Of course it’s essential to build in emerging channels to our marketing strategies to keep us in contact with our growing audiences but as its true that marketing cannot rely on digital alone, so it is that we need to ensure we are maximising all channels we have at our disposal. And while social is a constantly changing environment, email remains a core feature in our everyday lives and has proved its effectively time and time again.
While social media can be great for raising a brand’s profile, most consumers still respond better to offers made in an email. In this sense, social media is the tool that acts to warm up the audience with email coming in to close the deal.
Like anything, email must evolve to remain relevant and we have already started to see some more social elements in its functionality. However most of us would be hard pushed to imagine a world where we carry out our business transactions through Facebook Messenger or MSN chat or request our bank statements be IM’d to us each month.
Abi Clowes, Head of Marketing at Pure360 says “As a marketer I see social as another channel to send messages through – no different to mobile or email, it’s great that it expands our reach and allows us to target the person not just the title or consumer. As Pure360, we are seeing huge growth in the number of emails sent out each month, certainly not a decline. We’re talking 3 billion emails being sent a year. In addition we’ve taking steps to better integrate email and social campaigns so people can send their messages regardless of channel.”
Dave Choplin, Head of Microsoft's Envisoneers team agrees,
"I think that email is dead when it comes to social media in the same way that snail mail was dead when it came to email. Time and again, it's always the same thing. Enter the bright shiny new technology stage right, therefore old boring technology must exit stage left.
When all we had was email we would use email for everything.
Now we've got this wonderful selection of different kinds of communication. What's nice is that our email starts to be for those communications that do truly need the kind of functionality that email offers.
The key thing for me is to dispel the myth that a lot of social media ‘luvvies’ would have you believe, that email is dead. Everything has its place and it's really understanding which is the right tool for the job."
If you’re looking for some clear and helpful guidance to maximise on the success of our email marketing, check out our Email Best Practice Guide as well as our Podcast Episode 43 where we talk to Sean Duffy, Principal Email Marketing Consultant for Emailcenter.
To answer the question we posed at the start of this post, Hostpapa has created an interesting infographic comparing email and social across 5 major success factors; Benefits, Growth, Usage, Reach and Features with an interesting, but maybe not unexpected result.