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Email Marketing vs. Social Media: Which is Better?

Rida Ali Khan

It’s like choosing between macarons and donuts - but in terms of digital marketing.

Email marketing vs. social media, which one’s more profitable? If you’re a marketer wishing to promote your business, this question might have crossed your mind a gazillion times. Hasn’t it? 

We thought so too. 

This popular debate has been going around for quite some time now. With social media’s increasing popularity and influence, it may seem like social media is the obvious answer, but that’s not true. With an estimated 306.4 billion emails sent and received every day, email marketing is still in the game and is here to stay. 

So, to clear this confusion for you, we made an email marketing vs. social media analysis to see which performs better. 

P.S. Our results will be totally unbiased and based on facts. 

But, before we start analyzing these platforms, let’s talk about what exactly they are. 

What is Email Marketing? 

Email marketing is the queen bee of digital marketing. It’s a platform where emails are sent to customers to communicate and educate them about a product or promotion. 

It is one of the most powerful marketing channels and a valuable tool for having a one on one conversation with users. With advanced features like automation and personalization, communication with customers over emails has become more efficient and influential. The best thing about email marketing is that it is very cost-effective. 

What is Social Media Marketing? 

Social media is relatively new but came with a bang. It consists of mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, etc. It is highly unlikely for a person not to be obsessed with social media in today's time. 

Social media is an excellent tool to connect with many people by posting content, liking, commenting, sharing posts, and running paid ads. 

Let’s take a deeper look at how each platform has evolved and influenced people worldwide. 

Both Mediums and Their Enchanting Evolution 

Evolution of email and social media marketing

Email marketing started back in 1978. Ever since then, its influence and benefits have been increasing with time. Most people are of the opinion that email is an outdated marketing method. But, contrary to these rumors, it is still one of the most powerful tools to reach a large audience and will stay so for a long while.

In fact, research says that currently, there are more than 4 billion email users globally, and this number will exceed to 4.6 billion users per day in 2025. It looks like email marketing will stay evergreen. 

On the other hand, social media came into action just two decades back and has been the talk of the town since then. With a range of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., social media’s influence and obsession have increased, especially among youngsters and marketers. 

According to statistics, 58.4% of the earth’s population uses social media. That’s huge!

No matter new or old, both these mediums have a tremendous impact on internet users. To make the best use of each platform, you need to understand the ideal time to use them.

What is the Best Time to Use Each Platform? 

Best time to use email and social media marketing

We get that marketing is all about choosing the best. That’s where the whole question of email marketing vs. social media popped in your head in the first place. But honestly, there’s a right time to choose each platform, and we have mentioned that below:

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is the ideal choice if you need to deliver your message to a specific group of people. Sending an email is like having a one on one conversation with your subscribers. 

This way, you increase the chances of converting them into customers. All you have to do is add links to your website in your email content. 

Social Media

Social media marketing is the best option if you intend to make something viral or if the young generation is your target audience. That's because young people prefer to use social media more than reading emails.

Now that we know about each platform’s origins and when to use each, let’s discuss their competitive advantages and disadvantages. 

Email Marketing vs. Social Media - Survival of the Fittest 

Choices give more opportunities, but you must choose the best channel if you're rooting for a complete win. Let's dig in to see which is it:

1. Which One has the Better Reach? 

Emails or social media, which reaches better?

This might take you by surprise, but there are more email users in the world than social media users. 

According to statistics, there are 3.8 billion people around the globe who use email, whereas only 3.4 billion people use social media.

Moreover, Twitter and Facebook’s collective reach is equal to 0.2% of daily emails sent. 

Hence, with these statistics, we declare email marketing as the winner here. 

Winner: Email marketing

2. Which One do Users Mostly Prefer? 

Time for a little self-reflection. Which platform do you prefer as a user? 

72.2% of participants preferred to use email as a method of communication with brands, among which 67.6% were teenagers. According to email marketing statistics, 58% of people check their emails before checking their social media.

Speaking in terms of marketing, 85% of B2B marketers use email and 80% use social media for content marketing. 

Winner: Email marketing

3. Which One Engages Better?

Interactivity is the real deal.

If a platform offers interactivity, it provides you with a reason to create an affiliation or relationship with your customers. 

Take a moment and think, what is the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you sleep? You scroll through social media accounts. 

And, all this time is mostly spent tagging people, liking and sharing posts, uploading content, or engaging with people through live streams, which makes social media the best platform to increase engagement. Plus, social media is the best candidate to make anything viral within a couple of hours. According to research, 90% of marketers reported that social media had increased exposure for their business. 

Email marketing also increases engagement by embedding interactive elements, but this engagement is relatively less in comparison to what social media offers with its live video sessions or options for group chat. 

So, this is one area where social media wins over email marketing. 

Winner: Social media

4. Which One Offers More Value? 

It will be harsh if we say both platforms do not add value.

They both do, but when it comes to comparison, it’s an understood fact that people mostly join social media to share memes, for carefree scrolling, and to engage with one another rather than looking for a valuable business. 

On the other hand, an email is always sent or received with the intent of purchasing, promoting, or gaining something. So it’s safe to say that email adds more value to our lives. 

Winner: Email marketing

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Email Templates

5. Which Gives Better Authority and Security?

When we speak of privacy policies and security, social media can become a real pain. It has numerous rules and regulations that keep on changing over time, affecting our marketing campaigns. 

Social media keeps on changing its algorithms which can restrict you from connecting with customers. And sometimes, your account may shut down for not following their terms of services even when you think you were abiding by them. 

Besides privacy, social media doesn’t offer autonomy. It controls the kind of content you can post. Many campaigns can be restricted completely off guard, and you are asked to pay a fine to play/resume them. 

On the other hand, email marketing gives you complete autonomy over your content and your target audience. Marketing through emails feels like a one-to-one communication, so you won’t feel like someone is invading your privacy.

Winner: Email Marketing

6. Which One Reaches Your Target Audience Better?

If you’re continuously shown an advertisement that is of no interest to you, it will bug you. Trust me, we all feel the same.

Relevancy of posts and product promotion increases the user’s chance to engage with your brand. This is why segmentation and targeting are important. In email marketing, you can easily divide your email list according to information from your subscribers when they sign up. This segmentation can be on the basis of age, gender, user history, etc. Once the email list is segmented, the user will only receive the emails that interest them.

Luckily, social media also understands the importance of relevancy. Therefore, both Facebook and Instagram use targeting tools to shortlist the audience who can view their posts. 

Facebook exclusively has extensive targeting options that include location, age, gender, language, relationship with other followers, education, occupation, life events, and interest. The targeting options for Instagram’s ads are exactly the same as Facebook. No wonder you start seeing an ad similar to the product that you just randomly stalked. 

With such amazing consideration of each platform for targeting audiences, we can say both mediums have excelled in this domain.

Winner: Email marketing and social media

7. Which is the Best Tool to Get a High Return on Investment?

Email marketing has a higher ROI than social media

Generating a good Return On Investment (ROI) is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a marketing channel or strategy. 

It's relatively easier to calculate email marketing's ROI than social media’s. This is because we can simply track down a user's open, click-through, and conversion rates in emails.

But our extensive research told us that email marketing has a significantly higher ROI than social media, i.e, on every $1 spent on email marketing, there is a $42 return on investment. 

Like we mentioned before, calculating ROIs on social media is almost impossible. But huge investments are at stake because of social media’s privacy policies which clearly makes email marketing better to invest in.  

Winner: Email marketing

8. Which Medium Supports Tests and Trials? 

A/B testing is essential to shortlist and analyze the best marketing approaches. Luckily, this option to test and trial is available in both channels. 

In an email, you can select multiple variables like segmentation, length of content, or personalization to check which results in a successful campaign. 

Similarly, you can test your campaign ideas through social media by creating different kinds of posts and checking their performance through likes and comments.

This concludes that we have an equal score for email and social media in this domain. 

Winner: Email marketing and social media

9. Which One Wins in Terms of Product Promotion? 

Do you remember the last time you were notified about a promotional discount? Which platform was it? 

Email, of course. I mean we all can recall several moments when we were informed about a promotional sale or new campaign through email notifications. Sadly, we can’t say the same about social media.

Apart from being better at informing people, email marketing also has a better conversion rate. Research states that 60% of consumers make purchases after receiving an email.

Social media, however, is a great channel for product research and for boosting brand awareness. But its inconsistent algorithms and high investment rate make email a relatively better medium for marketing. 

Besides, people visit social media with the intent of catching up on trends rather than purchasing. Hence, marketing on social media is more intrusive while it’s more consensual in email. 

Winner: Email marketing

The following table provides a quick summary of which digital marketing medium wins against the discussed factors.

Email marketing vs social media: which is better?

What if They are Used Together? 

Do you know which marketing strategy is the most progressive? 

Working in harmony. 

If you wish to market your brand in the best possible way, you must try using these domains together. Here is how you can do it: 

  • Use social media to invite followers to subscribe to your email list with pop-up ads.
  • Include links to your brand’s social media handles in your email. Add the icons of each platform on the footer of your email in a presentable way. 
  • Add a call to action button in the description of your Facebook or Instagram post that asks them to sign-up to your email list. 
  • Add a sign-up form on your brand’s social media page. 
  • Add giveaway vouchers for people who like your social media pages. 

After all, what if we switch email marketing vs. social media into email marketing integrated with social media. The two of the most powerful digital marketing channels can make a huge success for your business. 

Use both email and social media marketing

Do We Have a Winner?

In this battle of email marketing vs. social media, we believe both are incredibly important tools to market your business because each platform has distinct advantages. 

An ideal practice would be to select the most appropriate channel according to your campaign’s nature. For instance, you can use social media if you want followers to massively engage with your business, but you can use email marketing if you want a greater return on investment. 

However, email marketing is more beneficial because of its greater reach, ROI, privacy policies, and content’s value. 

Now that you know for sure that email marketing is the best channel to market your brand, you must start designing your campaigns efficiently and effectively. In case you need help with that, follow our email design guide, and you will be set to create the best marketing campaigns.  

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