As any marketer will concede in a heartbeat, we live in the era of social media marketing. Social networking stormed the scene and captured us on many different levels – including in our capacity as consumers. Yet marketing in the digital world was here long before social networks came about and it focused mainly on one of the Internet’s greatest perks: the humble e-mail.

So as a marketing professional, should you choose one of the two, or would a combined strategy instead yield more success?

Email: The King Is Not Dead

Email has truly revolutionized the way people communicate and it seems that its days are far from numbered. It’s been around since the 70s and a recent study by the UK Office for National Statistics published on the BBC website confirmed that it is still the most popular online activity. In fact, emailing was cited by 82% of respondents as the reason why they most frequently use the web, while 71% stated searching and 66% of those interviewed cited social media activity.

Earlier studies have established that this is also true for Internet users not only in the US but around the globe: on average, 85% of people use the web to email and 62% (61% in the US) go online to connect on social media.

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This effectively means that email has established a strong foothold not only in our general communication habits but in our online behavior patterns as well. And it means that when you set out to design an efficient digital marketing approach, emailing should be taken into account – not only due to its popularity among users but because of its great impression rates as well.

While almost 2 out of 3 B2B emails are deleted before they are read, it has better impression rates than any other platform. In fact, an email’s impression rate is 37% while the same figure drops to 5% for a tweet and 3% for an organic post on Facebook. Email is familiar, convenient, and consistent, and any marketing strategy that failed to incorporate an email element would be missing out on one of the greatest and most respectable marketing tools out there.

Social Media: Everybody’s Game

But all the above does not mean that you should focus on email too much. The best approach is a balanced one, and it is well established that social media influences our purchasing decisions. In fact, a 2016 survey published on Statista has found that 78% of customers are influenced by social media when buying online; 45% of respondents cited reading comments or reviews as one of the most influential aspects of social networking and 44% stated that receiving promotional offers has an impact on how they shop online.

A campaign that relies heavily on social media might then prove the most appropriate one if you are looking to influence online shoppers – but you also need to come up with a strategy that fits both your target group and your field.

 

One way to go is establishing a robust social media presence that focuses on regular and reliable updates; this is a great idea if you are designing a campaign for a news network, like CNN – which has a dedicated twitter account for breaking news – or if your target group needs to receive frequent updates e.g on the outcome of sports matches or other games. For instance, Betway, an online casino, games and sports betting services provider, maintains a strong social media presence among different platforms, posting almost every hour.

As a general rule, understanding your audience and delivering what they need is always a good tactic: Netflix Movies is yet another brand that regularly updates its social media accounts in a tactful way – even if it is just posting a meme to celebrate a fictional character’s birthday, the online streaming network knows how to keep viewers engaged.

Engage with Your Audience

Promoting user-generated content is also an increasingly popular method of keeping customers alert; after all, social media is all about communicating with other users, too. Food delivery company GrubHub regularly tweets images that customers took of their food while camera manufacturer GoPro encourages users to send in their best shots using its equipment – and then uploads them on its Instagram account.

General Electric took it one step further about a year ago, when they partnered with filmmaker Sam Cossman to document his descent into the Nicaraguan volcano dubbed the “Mouth of Hell” – and broadcasted the whole thing simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Last but not least, brands like Dove and Always have both built careful social media strategies that revolve around making a statement about the beauty industry and promoting gender equality. And then, there are brands like Oreo and its famous Super Bowl tweet that just put the instant connection that social media affords to good use by seeing an opportunity in a moment and seizing it.

Everybody is still talking about that Oreo ad – and there is a lesson to be learnt there. Regardless of the means, be it email or a tweet, the right marketing approach needs to be original, contemporary, and witty, if it is to truly yield results.