Email Marketing v Social Media, which is best?

By Colin Scotland

There's going to be trouble.

Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing are about to have a fight.

It is going to get messy.

When it comes to ROI, who would win, Email or Social?

10 Step Marketing Checklist to More Leads and Sales

Running your business is time-consuming. You are pushed and pulled in all directions and time is of the essence.

Logic follows that the time you spend on your marketing should be time well spent, not wasted.

Forget the financial cost. Your time is far more valuable. Why bother pouring hours and hours into something if it isn't going to bring a return on investment (ROI)?

More leads, more sales, more profits.

Of all the 'new' pieces of the marketing jigsaw out there disrupting the world of business and offering the holy grail of endless streams of customers, email and social media are probably the most prevalent.

But which one is best? Which one will bring the most ROI? Which one is worthy of investing your most precious asset, your time?

Before the fight to the death, let's look at each one, in turn, to see what part they could play in helping to grow your business.

Not from a fluffy, high-level perspective. From a hands-to-the-pump, let's get busy building your business with actions point of view.

What can you do with each of these that will grow your business?

Let's find out...

Email Marketing

Everyone in business in the western world has email. Everyone.

Now, before we dive in. I want you to put all thoughts of email newsletters out of your head.

Email newsletters are old hat.

They still have their place, but there is a much better use for email than just blasting out sales messages and news about how great your company is.

Instead, think of your sales process.

From the moment someone becomes aware of you and your business, to the point of becoming a customer, and beyond.

Think of this 'customer journey' as the engine of your business.

Customers are the fuel that travels through the engine.

You put fuel into the engine, it combusts and drives your engine forward.

No customers. No fuel. No movement. No business.

Every piece of marketing you put your time to should be either filling your fuel tank with fuel (getting more customers) or tuning up your engine (improving your processes).

If not. Don't bother with it.

Back to the journey.

Think of all the communications you have with people as they go through the process from awareness of who you are to deciding to use your product/services and then into a lifelong customer.

All of the things you would say and do if someone was stood right in front of you. These communications are what you can deliver via email.

“Email is the tool that allows you to replicate the offline relationship building process, online.”

Helpful information. Email.

Overcoming objections. Email.

Make a purchase. Email.

Spend more money. Email.

Making a repeat purchase. Email.

Email marketing can really help you to tune up your engine. But it does something even more powerful.

You can automate. Using inexpensive software such as ConvertKit, these emails can then be sent on autopilot.

What does this mean?

It means email done right allows you to scale your business.

You are able to give personal attention to every single customer based upon their actions.

Now, you are no longer limited by the number of relationships you can build in person, you have the potential to scale infinitely with email marketing automation.


The other consideration is that your email list is an asset that you own. Unlike your social media following. If Twitter shut down tomorrow what good would even a million followers be then?

When you invest time in building your email list and creating email nurture sequences, you are creating an asset that will add value and directly impact your bottom line. Especially if you focus on doing it the right way, using it to both fill the fuel tank (convert more leads into customers) and to tune the engine (improving the sales processes) and turn more customers into lifelong ambassadors of your brand.

Email Marketing ROI score: 10 out of 10.

Social Media Marketing

While everyone in the western world has email, the same is not true of social media. But don't discount it just yet.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Facebook reported 1.86 billion monthly active users. Not a figure to be taken lightly.

The growth of social media usage is phenomenal.

Imagine a steep upward curve illustrating growth.

Now make it even steeper. Steeper still. This is how fast social media usage is being adopted by our society.

In my workshops I compare social media to the chatter that used to take place on the street, in communities, on doorsteps, in the playground many years ago. You know, good old-fashioned in-person chit-chat, before smartphones and the internet. Remember that?

If you needed something or someone you would ask your friends or family members (in person, not by text) to make a recommendation.

Good and bad experiences would be retold to friends and family, and the stories would circulate via word of mouth - Auntie Mable was ill for four days with food poisoning after eating a bad Chicken Korma at blah blah. Jean next door said food standards were in there last week and they've condemned the place... You get the idea.

Pre-purchase product research would be restricted to your local geographical area and the people you came into contact within the real world.

There was no Google. No social media.

Nowadays, these very same requests for recommendations, pre-purchase searches and stories of good and bad experiences are still happening. We are still human after all. The internet hasn't changed everything 😉

The difference now is that a growing portion of our society is using social media as their tool of choice to research, ask questions and talk about their experiences before and after they make a purchase decision.

Given that fact, don't you think it might be important that you are privy to the conversations that are taking place?

“Your customers are talking about you. About your products and services online, right now. Social media allows you to join in on that conversation.”

Not only that. It allows you to harness the power of a modern-day version of word-of-mouth to reassure potential customers, and to re-affirm your awesomeness to existing customers.

No shock there then, a marketing professional is telling you that social media is great. 'Tell me something I don't know' I hear you say.

Is it worth your time?

Will it deliver an ROI?

Is it better than email?

Yes, yes, and not quite.

My comments above should have answered the first question. Of course, it is worth your time, but only if done right. I have lost track of the number of business owners who tell me they have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but they don't get any business from them, therefore, they conclude it is rubbish and that social media must be a waste of time.

When I look at said accounts, they are rarely set up correctly and have nothing more than sales messages all over them at best.

“Most business owners are doing things all wrong on social media.”

What do I mean by doing things wrong?

There is no engagement with customers. The branding is usually inconsistent (different graphics on different channels) and the profiles aren't optimised to drive traffic (pinned posts/tweets, sharing valuable content, etc.).

If you set up for success and invest time in doing the right things on social media, consistently, you will drive traffic and get leads for your business.

You will pour fuel into your engine.

But here is the caveat.

Social media alone is not a panacea or magic bullet for your business - Neither is email marketing for that matter.

Social media marketing works best when you have sales funnels and email nurture sequences in place. Without these, you are chasing vanity metrics.

Lots of likes and followers mean nothing if they ain't making the tills ring, right?

So regarding ROI and the big showdown with email, social media is a strong contender but would be knocked out in the second round by email marketing.

Social Media Marketing ROI score: 8 out of 10.

If they went head to head based on potential ROI, email marketing would win hands down.

If you only have the time to invest in one, make it email.

That said, if you can show up consistently on social, it can be an awesome source of leads and traffic and add new subscribers to your email list.

The best bit. Apart from the time investment, organic traffic from social media is free.

Next Steps

Do you use email in your business?

Not newsletters in Mailchimp (or similar). I mean really engine-tuning stuff as I mentioned earlier.

If not, fix this as a priority.

Actively build your email list and nurture relationships with your potential and existing clients using automated email marketing or you will be leaving money on the table.

If you have time and capacity, then look at complimenting your list-building efforts with a lead generation-focused social media marketing strategy.

If you can do both. Go for it. Done right, both will reward you with a direct impact on your bottom line.

Will they both deliver a healthy return on investment? You bet.

But they need to be part of a wider marketing strategy in your business.

10 Step Marketing Checklist to More Leads and Sales

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