Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Social vs. Email - The Final Showdown:

Recently I have seen several conversations regarding which channel, Social vs. Email are better for B2B marketing.  

Yesterday this blog post caught my eye:
This post is supported by an infographic showing the huge rise in social platforms. (I doubt anyone reading this post would be surprised by these growth rates.)
This great post really underscores a big point – today many people rely more on social than email to stay informed.  Personally I find that my RSS (Feedly – which is a great Google Reader replacement) and email newsletter subscriptions are good, but  I rely heavier on Twitter to keep me up to date. The real time and easy to consume (anywhere, anytime) format works well for me. This same concept can be applied to many B2B to buyers.

However on the flip side there have been a few articles recently discussing the success of Email over Social:
The Kissmetrics post - 5 Reasons Email Marketing Crushes Social Media Marketing for B2B
Wired also had a great post Email Is Crushing Twitter, Facebook for Selling Stuff Online This was based on a study done by Custora.

These in summary discuss that email is better because:
1 – Despite the huge social growth rates - Email still has a larger universe.
This is interesting to me because we hear often how fast Social channels grow but we don’t hear as much about email growth rates. What I would really like to see, would be a comparison of Email and Social accounts created overlaid with abandoned rates and usage rates.  If you can point me to this, please leave a comment!
2 - There are several other good points brought up in these posts but I think the most powerful are the 2 charts in the Wired/Custora study. They show that email as a custom acquisition tool blows Facebook and Twitter away.  They also go a level deeper and show what I think, are the most important metrics yet for this showdown - customer lifetime values! Again email surpasses Facebook and Twitter here.

The wildcard factors:
1 - Social is relatively new (compared to email), and always changing. Email marketing has been around for well over 10 years at this point. Most marketers have strategies that are well defined and optimized in email, yet most marketers are not yet even defined in social, never mind optimized with it. There are new social channels popping up all the time which further complicate this. The early days had MySpace, then Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, just this year Instragram videos and Vine (with countless others in-between). When looking at the metrics mentioned above regarding email trumping social, we need to consider that for many, social strategies are not yet fully developed/optimized.
Part of this concept is proven in the David Meerman Scott post “How long does it take you to respond” and further proof of this is seen in the recent twitter disaster form Bank of America.

It’s clear that for many the social communication strategies are still in their infancy so to expect to get the same return is unrealistic.

2 - Another big wildcard card to consider are the goals you have for each channel. Are the metrics and goals for both Social and Email the same?  Do you expect to see social channels generate leads and pipeline revenue, or build relationships and brand value? This post is a must read for more insights of the different metrics to apply to channels at each stage of the funnel!
As marketers we all want to increase sales and our brand value, but there are many different metrics to view this through. Should the same metrics be applied to social as email?
Social is good to share stories and build relationships with customers as noted in this Eloqua blog. I would argue that social and email marketing should be measured differently.  

So with all that said – The Showdown Winner Is:

Both – sorry if you wanted to see a clear winner here. A converged marketing strategy will truly yield impact and growth. Only choosing one of these will leave you with a strategy that has big holes and missed opportunity.
That said, know your goals for each channel and keep internal expectations clear as to what those channels are used for, and what the KPIs are used to judge performance.

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning yet again how important it is to offer relevant content. Above all else, no matter the channel, without relevant content it is just noise.

1 comment:

  1. you summed it up perfectly at the end: without relevant content it is just noise