Why You Can’t Write Off Email Marketing—It Beats Social Media

Louis Foong 7

B2b-email-marketingThere is no getting away from the fact that social media must be part of your marketing mix, but how is social actually doing in delivering what your B2B organization needs – leads, conversions, customers and sales? Not very well, from what studies and statistics are showing. Email marketing, on the other hand, soldiers valiantly on and remains the most effective B2B communication and conversion tool after organic search. Let’s put it this way—mature can be sexy you know!

Take a look at these statistics and reasons why email should still be a priority in your overall B2B marketing strategy:

  • A recent study by Custora shows that Email has nearly 3 times as many users as Facebook and Twitter combined. That’s nearly 3 billion users. And email traffic over the Internet is more than four times that used by everything else viewed over the Web each day, including videos and images.
  • According to the same Custora survey, customer acquisition by email has quadrupled over the last four years and now accounts for almost 7% of customer acquisitions, with organic search still the most effective at 16%. Social falls way, way behind.
  • The study also indicates that an email customer is 11% more valuable than the average. Once again, good old organic search customer is the winner with 50% more value than the average. Social is down there at 23% LESS valuable than the average. Are you sure you are spending your marketing budget wisely if you have abandoned email for social media?

People have been saying, “The money is in the (email) list” since email came of age. Email lists became the big thing back in the 1990s and early 2000s. Then along came new, bright, shiny toys like social media to play with, and email seemed to be losing ground. But while email is no longer the preferred personal communications channel among the younger generation, for business communication, it still rocks. And the money is still in the list. But it needs to be a segmented, target and frequently cleansed list.

Some more research and statistics worth considering:

  • An Economist Intelligent Unit survey of  UK and US users in 2013 showed that email ranks as the top outreach channel for all stages of the purchasing process.
  • Mobile email growth, according to EmailMonday has risen until it accounts for 15-65% of email opens (depending on targeting etc), with more than 25% of emails now being read on a smart phone.
  • Yet, only 27% of marketers say they will be adopting mobile marketing strategies in the near future, so there is a wide open opportunity for B2B forward thinkers here, because…get this… mobile email use is predicted to grow 28% in 2014.

More and more businesses are equipping staff with smart phones across all levels of the corporate domain. They are doing this in an attempt to help with unified communications, the increase in tele-workers, and the required mobility of many employees beyond the workplace. Think for a moment about the potential target audience that gives you.

Don’t forget how your email message appears on a mobile phone though. If it looks bad, or doesn’t fit to screen, your list will shrink as people unsubscribe.

For almost any organization, creating compelling content for an email campaign is still the biggest challenge. An eMarketer survey shows 55% of B2B and 52% of B2C respondents citing content as the hardest tactic to execute. However, 71% B2B and 65% B2C say this is the most effective tactic still. Content remains the undisputed king, in email  as well as digital marketing.

And not to be negative but what if those social media networks and tools you are using now, and relying on instead of email for your B2B communications, vanish or decline significantly? It may seem unlikely that Facebook with more than 1.1 billion users is going to disappear overnight, but there is already evidence that the younger generation are leaving Facebook to their moms and grandmothers.

Those Gen Yers may not be today’s customers, but they definitely will be tomorrow’s. And they will still be using email for communicating with businesses, and will still use email at work for their business dealings too. It appears that the constancy of the platform, its professional appearance, simplicity of use and the fact it just works, is more important than shiny, bright, exciting social media.

How does your company use email marketing for B2B lead generation and customer acquisition? I look forward to your thoughts—do leave me a comment.


Image: Shutterstock


  1. Joel Presman (Remarkety) October 21, 2013 at 8:09 am - Reply

    I totally agree that Email Marketing is still the winner for eCommerce and I believe it is going to stay that way for a long time. Moreover, it is much more complex to measure success in social media and it usually leaves you with “impressions”, “likes”, “shares”, etc. Business owners want to measure the bottom line: Show Me The Money!
    In Remarkety, we see even higher numbers than what is presented in the article. If you automate your emails and create the right customer segmentation, the results are amazing.
    Don’t take it wrong, social marketing can be a great strategy, but it is much more complex and hard to measure.

  2. Hardik October 24, 2013 at 5:55 am - Reply

    You are right!!!
    Since, In a B2B environment, the messages you send are targeted to specific decision makers who may have the complete knowledge of their problems and the authoirty to act, makes it all the more important that the content is rich and specific to the reader’s pain points or needs.

    Also, I think email marketing is the preferred way of communication for the target audience in a B2B environment since these folks may not have time be present on the social network sites which is prominantly a platform for socialising. I don’t think that these folks have that leisure time to be on social networks. So Email marketing is here to stay at least for B2B scenarios.

    Well written Louis!!!

    • Louis Foong November 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      Thank you Hardik. Email is definitely here to stay.

  3. Laura Laney October 28, 2013 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Interestingly, I’ve observed increases in organic search in rhythm with email launches. The two tactics are very symbiotic.

    • Louis Foong November 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      We have seen that too as Google and other search engines continue to provide more emphasis on social signals.

  4. Katherine February 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Agreed that email should not be left behind, but this is a bit misleading. Email is more “effective” than social, but effective at what? “Leads, conversions, customers and sales” is what you say, but social has long since been discussed more as a brand engagement and awareness vessel than for direct sales, especially in the B2B space.

    Moreover, a few facts seem to be neglected in the article. Stats on organic search? Social boosts your organic search results (if done well). The lists you’ve gotten for your email marketing? If not bought (and they really, really, shouldn’t be bought) are from people who have found your website and channels (yep, social ones) and chosen to sign up through links and opportunities on those platforms.

    Comparing email marketing to social media marketing is like comparing apples and oranges–They’re both part of the fruit bowl that is marketing, but they have different purposes and parts in the grand scheme of things, and the success of either in most companies is directly affected by the other.

    • Louis Foong March 10, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

      At the end of the day it is about conversion especially in our B2B world. Thank you for your feedback.

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