Over the past year proponents of email marketing have been on the defensive a great deal. Challenges from both social media advocates and half-baked pundits suggesting that email is on the way out, have put a real burr under the saddle of email marketing people.
I’m frankly tired of the entire discussion since I don’t believe there is a clear delineation between Facebook or Twitter and email. All three are social channels and thus, social media. The sooner we move on from this red herring and focus more on the specific strengths of each channel (judged on its own merit) the better. The whole social vs. email scuffle simply distracts us from more practical and more pressing issues.
Case in point, eMarketer recently reported research from a few sources regarding what channel was preferred by consumers for deals. The basic question was whether or not people were interested in finding deals on social media sites. Surveys cited in the post trying to answer that question came up with different results.
One by daily deal site Eversave, asked American female social network users what activities Facebook is useful for and found that 75% thought it was good for learning about deals from favourite brands.
However, research by ForeSee Results, back in late 2010 found 64% of people preferred to hear about sales and promotions via email while only 8% had a preference for Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. This backed up earlier research by CrossView, which showed that 37% preferred promotional emails over 9% who had a preference for social media.
So which is it? Well, that depends doesn’t it? We’ve got a score here of two polls to one, but so what? It’s interesting that in two of the polls the percentage of those who preferred channels such as Facebook was about the same at just under 10%. But really, without picking through the surveys with tweezers, we are basically spreading sheep entrails out to read.
eMarketer observes (rightfully) that more consumers subscribe to retail email accounts than follow retailers on social sites. That’s a very valid observation, but let’s not forget that social is a powerful word-of-mouth amplifier and as brands catch on to this they hopefully will leverage those channels to spread the word about deals and promotions.
It’s not that there isn’t any worth at all in these surveys. They do offer some insight and may even be helpful to some in building a case for apportioning marketing resources. It’s the debate that’s pretty much useless. While we’re busy struggling over what channel is best overall, we are doing a disservice to clients and consumers alike by not focusing all our attention on leveraging the individual strengths possessed by each channel.