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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.

Hm, email or social media, which will perform better? 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 how they have influenced users across the globe. 

New Vs. Old

Origin of email marketing and social media

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 Most people are of the opinion that email is an outdated marketing method.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 4 billion email users in the world and this number will exceed to 4,594 billion users in 2025. Looks like email marketing will stay evergreen. Doesn’t it? 

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 amongst youngsters and marketers. 

According to statistics recorded in 2020, 57% 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. In case you're wondering what's the ideal time to use any of these channels, read below:

What is the Best Time to Use Them? 

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is the ideal choice if you need to deliver your message to a specific group of people. You can select your target audience by segmenting your email list to send personalized messages. 

This way, you can 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 Marketing

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 talk about their competitive advantages and disadvantages. 

Best time to use email marketing and social media

Email Marketing vs. Social Media - Survival of the Fittest 

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

Which One has the Better Reach? 

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

According to stats collected in 2019, there are 3.8 billion people around the globe who use email. Whereas only 3.4 billion people use social media, this includes - Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.

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. 

Which one has better reach; email marketing or social media marketing?

Which One Engages Better?

Interactivity is the real deal.

If a platform offers interactivity, it provides the user with a reason to create an affiliation or relationship with your brand. 

Before we rush into a decision, let’s do a little self-analysis here. What are 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, this time is mostly spent tagging people, sharing posts, uploading content, or engaging with people online, 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. 

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. 

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 and this can affect your 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 one-to-one communication, so you won’t feel like someone is invading your privacy.

In terms of privacy and policy, we believe email marketing is the winner. 

Best Platform to Get a High Return on Investment?

Does email marketing generate more ROI or 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 ROI of social media is almost impossible. But huge investments are at stake because of social media’s privacy policies which clearly makes email marketing the better option to invest in.  

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. 

Which Wins in Terms of Product Promotion? 

If you wanted to know about a promotion or a discount, where will you look it up? 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 as research states that 60% of consumers make purchases after receiving emails.

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 this, 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. 

Well, it’s pretty clear that email marketing excels in this area as well. 

What if They are Used Together? 

Using email marketing and social media marketing 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 both these domains together. You can do this by advertising your email campaign on social media by providing links to sign up. In addition to that, you can use social media ads for retargeting email subscribers. 

Similarly, you can add links to social media accounts in the footer of each email or simply advise them to follow your social media accounts for an interactive experience in your email content. 

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 and have distinct advantages. But still, email marketing is more beneficial because of its greater reach, ROI, privacy, and testing abilities. 
Now that you know for sure that email marketing is the best channel to market your brand, you must start designing your campaign efficiently and effectively. In case you need help with that, follow our guide, and you will be set to create the best marketing campaigns.


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