Email Marketing Trumps Social Media
Email marketing is more effective than social media marketing. / Credit: Email marketing image via Shutterstock

The reason so many businesses are flooding their customers' inboxes with messages is because email marketing works, new research shows.

A study by the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. discovered that email marketing is much more effective at acquiring customers than social media marketing is. Specifically, email marketing is nearly 40 times more successful than Facebook and Twitter marketing combined. Additionally, the rate at which emails prompt purchases is estimated to be at least three times that of social media, and the average order value is 17 percent higher. [10 Social Media Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses]

Despite a 20 percent decline in daily email usage between, the research found that the main reason for email marketing's success is that 91 percent of all U.S. consumers still use email daily. To help businesses harness the full power of the inbox through email marketing, McKinsey and Co. offers some tips:
 

  • Focus on the journey, not the click: Marketers often obsess over every aspect of every email sent, from the subject line to visuals to copy. And they should, as long as they remember that email is merely the first step in a consumer's decision journey. The email is part of a series of interactions with a brand, and marketers should be just as obsessed with where an email sends the user. Why invest so much time in an email, only to drop the user onto a generic home page? Customized landing pages — which send the user directly to the item or offer that's featured in the email — can increase conversion rates by more than 25 percent. And don't forget mobile. While nearly 45 percent of all marketing emails opened today are done so on a mobile device, many marketers fail to optimize landing pages for the platform. Those who think that's no big deal should consider that Google says 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, with 40 percent choosing to visit a competitor's site instead.
  • Share the lessons: The best marketing organizations view each email as an opportunity to learn more about their customers. These organizations define clear learning objectives for each campaign, capture data and share it within the marketing group and the rest of the organization.
  • Get personal: It has become increasingly difficult for businesses to stand out. While email usage has declined, the volume of messages continues to rise. The number of marketing emails was forecast to reach a record 838 billion in the United States in 2013, according to Forrester Research. It's no wonder relevancy should be a priority for every marketer. The best emails feel personal. Of course, building true customization and targeting abilities is a transformative process that requires specific capabilities and the complementary infrastructure. Customer information often lives in different parts of the organization and must be aggregated to create a single view of each consumer. A targeting engine must be built to guide the right message to the right person. And operations need to be ready for the change; creating and sending 3,000 personalized emails a day is very different from sending one mass email blast. Although it's a lot of work, it drives real returns.