Some marketing thought leaders and pundits out there claim that email marketing is dying. Some have even claimed that it’s already dead. I’d argue the opposite. In fact, I think these people are being contrarian merely to get publicity about the latest social media craze or the hottest new tool they might be pushing.
The facts show overwhelmingly that email marketing is alive and well, and extremely beneficial for business. Let’s review some of these facts.
Research firm, ForeSee Results, published a study early this year that was conducted during the 2010 holiday shopping season. They asked people who made purchases online about what influenced their visit to the respective e-commerce sites.
This graph below shows that familiarity with the brand was the number one driver. Promotional Emails was second. And it far outnumbered (by over 300%) the seventh driver – social media.
Next, in an attempt to find out what people prefer, they asked the study participants how they prefer to hear about sales and promotions. The chart below shows the results:
As you can see, the overwhelming majority (64%) stated that they prefer to hear about sales and promotions through emails. Only 8% of respondents stated that they prefer to hear about sales and promotions via social media.
To dig in further on the social media front, they asked the participants which social media would be their first choice for receiving communications from the company where they made their purchase. Luckily, as you can see, they included “None” as an option. Because 47% stated they prefer to not be contacted on social media sites with promotions.
The following graph by SmarterTools doesn’t necessarily prove my point, but it is interesting data. This graph shows that email still dominates the communication world when you look at total number of accounts and total number of messages sent (even after excluding all spam).
As Perry Marshall posted, “Email is King.”
I’m not interested in which medium has more accounts, or which one is growing faster, or which one has the hottest buzz. My specific interest is which medium is best for converting sales. I’m sure as readers of the Infusionsoft Blog, you would be wondering the same thing.
I’m a firm believer in social media. A couple of years ago I ran an experiment where I grew an email list of 2,000 people in 2 months strictly from Twitter. I then launched an information product to that list and it sold well. Twitter was an amazing traffic source for me in that experiment; my activity there was more than profitable. I can directly associate the revenue generated back to my activities on Twitter.
But, as a business, what would I rather have?
- An opt-in email list of 1,000 people
- 1,000 Facebook fans
- 1,000 Twitter followers
I’d choose the opt-in emails all day long.
Email is still the “inner sanctum.” It’s still the place where intimate conversations happen. It’s also the place where commerce begins for many e-commerce transactions. Even automated email conversations can be extremely personal and relevant – enough so to develop relationships that turn into sales.
I’ll be the first to admit it if that ever changes — and it might. Social media is changing the way we communicate. But, for now, social media remains to be a great a traffic source. Businesses should at least consider using it to drive people to valuable blog posts. At the bottom of your blog posts, include a lead capture form so interested people can request more information. Follow up with them via personalized and relevant email campaigns. Nurture the relationship with email. And when the time is right, encourage the sale through email. This seems to be the winning formula to make social media profitable for small businesses.
So, is email marketing dying? Tell me what you think in the comments below.
[Image credit: rodaniel]