Who Wins Lead Generation: Email Marketing or Social Media? Find Out

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the main fight of the night, in the category of Lead Generation here on AutoGrow’s blog!

Now in the red corner weighting 220 Pounds, the current champion, from the World Wide Web…please welcome Emaillllllllllll Marketingggggg. His opponent in the blue corner weighting 143 pounds, also from the World Wide Web…please welcome Sociallllll Mediaaaaa.

Ding, Ding, Ding!

We’re throwing email marketing and social media in the ring for 8 rounds to determine which method is better for growing your business through lead generation.

Time to see if either of these heavy-hitters can land a Knock Out.

Round 1

Compared to social media, email seems old. There’s no filters. No “like” button to click under each line of text. Emails don’t automatically disappear 10 seconds after reading them (even if sometimes we wish they would. “Yeah, I got your email, but it disappeared before I got to read it fully. I had no idea you wanted me to hand those long, boring reports in today. Honestly!”).

However, email still has a place in the modern world. Millennials are far from giving up on it. About 90% of Millennials use the internet to send and receive email at least occasionally, according to a study by Pew Research Center.

There are more than 3.2 billion email accounts today. 95% of online consumers use email and, 91% check their email at least once a day (Source: Exact Target).

I’ve had many friends give up Facebook, opting for privacy and less social pressure. I don’t have any friends who have given up email.

Round 2

Let’s discuss potential reach. For social media that would be followers. For email that would be subscribers.

Based on research, an average of 18% of emails are blocked or go missing AND about 4% are delivered to the spam/junk folder.

So that’s about 22% of emails lost. For something like Facebook though, there is a potential that 75% of your posts will go unnoticed.

Think about your own daily life: How many times do you miss a friend’s post on one of their social media sites? How many times have you missed an email in your inbox?

My guess is that you’re more likely to have an argument about not liking your best friend’s selfie on Instagram (when she only had 10 likes! ONLY 10! She needed you!), than you are to forget to check your email that day.

One reason for such a high potential of missed social media posts is the high volume of content. We love social media because it’s always offering new tweets, new status updates, new pictures, and new posts, but with that much content everyone is vying for attention.

It’s easy to be overlooked when, in a single day, Twitter users generate 500 tweets. On Facebook, users post 55 million status updates per day. On Instagram, over 70 million pictures are posted on a daily basis.

Round 3

What about click through rates?

Open rates for email marketing messages are generally in the 20 to 25 percent range. If you assume a six percent reach rate for Facebook, that means your message is five times more likely to be seen through email than social.

Click through rates are also generally higher on email, as Campaign Monitor explains:

Click through rates from email are generally in the 3% range, while click-through rates on Tweets are generally in the 0.5% range. This means you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from email than you are from Twitter.

In order to show this in action, influential marketing blogger Derek Halpern ran a test where he sent his latest blog post to the same number of people via both email and Twitter. Here are the results:

– 300 people clicked through to the article from Twitter
– 4,200 people clicked through to the article from email

ALSO, more people prefer to receive promotional content through email (77%), while hardly anyone wants to see that on social media (4%).

And here’s the final punch before the bell: With email, you’re reaching an audience that already KNOWS you. They signed up at some point to receive messages from you. They are allowing a greater level of trust and engagement. Getting in someone’s inbox isn’t easy…

Need help growing your email list? Click here for the quickest way to build up your contacts!

A social media opt-in doesn’t carry the same power. They might like your brand’s page and also a random page about fancy French cheese boards – then never think about either again.

Round 4

We need to discuss mobile marketing.

Social media and email are both often checked on mobile devices.

Statistically, according to research conducted and organized by the MarketingCharts company, about 56% of smartphone users check their email on their smartphones EVERY HOUR.

For the 18 to 40 demographic, emails are viewed primarily on their phones. Makes sense, since this same demographic is more likely to use smartphones and to be reliant on technology.

But this demographic (and a slightly younger demographic) are also most likely to be on social media.

However, it’s pretty simple to make sure your email is able to be viewed on a mobile device. While some social media apps or sites can be more complicated for posting responsive design content.

This is a close round, social media isn’t going down without a strong fight.

Round 5

Two words: length and personalization.

Length: email isn’t limited by character count.

Personalization: targeted campaigns can be sent through email. You can send emails to a percentage of your email list, where on social media everyone sees the same content.

Using segmentation your email list allows you to separate subscribers in different groups to send highly targeted messages depending on actions taken or specific times.

59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue (source: BtoB Magazine).

In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States. (eMarketer).

Round 6

Social media has proven over the years that measuring success is still under discussion. There are so many different ways and systems to use for companies to try and measure return on investment( ROI) from social media.

In fact, some companies are so sick of trying to figure it out that they’re giving up on tracking social media ROI.

Even the simple task of tracking traffic from social media is complicated.

Email on the other hand has a set of solid metrics that have been the standard for years:

  • Growth
  • Open Rate
  • Click Rate
  • Complaints
  • Unsubscribes
  • Even track sales and revenue now

A simple formula can tell you what the monetary value of your email subscriber is, while good luck figuring out the value of your Twitter follower.

Round 7

But what about engagement?

This is where social media lands a few well-placed punches.

Yes, it is easier to engage with an audience on social media. You can retweet and like, and comment.

You are more likely to have a conversation through social media.

However, for many companies, social is better suited for brand awareness and customer support functions.

Also, all your conversations are going to be public.

Email is private where you can have one-on-one communication. Just make sure that your subscribers have an email address they can respond to – not just a “noreply” address.

Round 8

This is the final round in our fight. Let’s see who is going to get the last few punches in.

Email doesn’t die. It needs to be killed. It will sit in your inbox until you make the effort to read it and delete it.

We’ve already discussed how social media posts can be ignored or missed, but did you know that a tweet’s popularity is predicted in the first 5 minutes? Or that Facebook post impressions happen in about 2 hours and 30 minutes.


Need help with your email list? Click here for the quickest way to build up your contacts!

We have a clear winner. Email landed all the big punches for these 8 rounds.

Email marketing is the best way to find and maintain new leads. When it comes to generating leads email will always beat social media.

Do you think email marketing should have won this match? Let’s start a discussion. Comment below.



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