NIt’s safe to say that social media has changed the internet dramatically and irreversibly for everyone who uses it. That goes for personal users and businesses. The shift has been incredibly dramatic when you consider that social media as we know it today isn’t even all that old. Facebook was founded in 2004 and hit 1 billion users in 2012. That’s not long in the real world — just 8 years — but it’s ages for the internet, and nothing will ever be the same.

One of the most traditional and effective ways of marketing online has always been through email. It gives you a direct conduit to people who have either purchased your products or expressed enough of an interest to give you their email addresses. In that sense, it is targeted marketing that can reach your specific audience. For a long time now, having an extensive email list was propped up as a crucial part of running any business.

But is that still true in this world of social media and constant online connections? Have things like Facebook and the smartphone changed it so that businesses need to change their strategy? Let’s take a look.

A Massive Audience

One of the biggest advantages of social media is that it has an absolutely massive reach. Remember how Facebook reached 1 billion users in 2012? They’re now well over 2 billion and the Facebook-owned image-sharing app Instagram has 1 billion of its own. That’s an audience you’re never going to get with an email list. It only expands when you consider Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, and all of the other social media apps — and whatever comes next.

Targeted Ads

The big advantage of email is that you get targeted ads to specific people. Well, social media gives you that edge as well, and it may be even better. Analyzing the data from people’s profiles and looking at their actions online — which sites they visit, which links they click, which posts they interact with — social media can help you target your ads to specific users who may like your company. Better yet, it’s all current. You find out what those people like or need right now. An email list may contain a lot of people who bought one item 10 years ago and never open the new emails, whereas social media always has its finger on the pulse of current trends.

Repeated Contact

Often, people view repeated email contact in the same day as overly-aggressive and annoying. It pushes them to unsubscribe from the list. On social media, though, as long as you post consistently, you can show up in their timeline over and over. You can interact with them, contact them, build brand awareness and generally engage their attention repeatedly. It’s just a different form, but it’s more of what people expect from social media and is therefore more effective, without the negative connotations.

Message Open Rates

Another thing to consider is how often people actually open your messages. It’s one thing to have a massive email list or a strong social media following, but where are they more likely to engage?

With email, the industry average — looking at Fortune 500 companies, one-employee startups and everything in between — is 20.81%. That covers all industries. It means that most companies hope that just one out of every five people to get the email will actually open it and read it.

By comparison, some studies have hit as high as 98% open rates for direct messages. That specific study used Facebook Messanger, which is simply Facebook’s direct messaging system. They also reported that the click-through rate (CTR) was 12 times what they saw with email messages. So, not only were vastly more people reading the direct messages, but they were engaging with them and taking action at a staggeringly higher rate.

It’s not a fluke, either. Other studies have backed that data up by looking at SMS open rates. They found that emails got the standard 20%, but SMS messages reached 90%. It’s clear that there are few better ways to get your marketing material in front of your audience.

Moving Forward

So, do email campaigns even carry weight anymore? Are we at the point where being present on social media is even more important than being in the inbox? It’s not that email is irrelevant. It can still get results. But, if you have to pick an area of focus, the statistics do not lie. Social media and the related messaging services have completely taken over where email began and there are few things more important in modern online marketing.

Here at Online Edge, we can help you determine what this means for your business and how you need to move forward, armed with this information. Let our experts guide you to online success.

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