Email vs Social Media – what’s the best ecommerce marketing strategy?

Social media has become a integral part of digital marketing. Businesses of all sizes and industries use channels like Facebook and Instagram every day to build and engage audiences. But while this is now an undisputed standard of online marketing – are our marketing budgets betting on the wrong horse?  

Don’t get me wrong here – social media can be an amazing tool for your business, and you should be making the most of it. But we shouldn’t be making the mistake of prioritising it over email marketing.

That’s right. Email. You heard correctly.

How could this be? Social media is a trendy new oasis of untapped consumer potential. It’s the sleek, new marketing opportunity of the future. Email, on the other hand, has been around since the age of steam. Right?

Well, not quite.

Dig a little deeper, and the power of email might surprise you.

Better ROI, click through rate, and reach

While email might not sound as glamorous as a perfectly maintained suite of social media accounts, the indisputable results beg to differ. In terms of conversion, reach and ROI, email is definitely top dog.   

Need more convincing? Then let’s continue.

You own your audience

Email gives you the rare opportunity to actually own the audience you’ve worked so hard to build.

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg announced his 2018 goals to change the Facebook newsfeed algorithm to favour non-business or branded posts:

….As we roll [these changes] out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

This is, of course, bad news for lots of businesses. Those who have invested precious funds into building up their audiences, probably aren’t going to be too chuffed to hear that Facebook has decided to confiscate them.

Luckily, email gives both businesses and consumers much better control.

With email, you own your audience. No exceptions. There’s no third party in the background pulling the strings or tweaking the algorithm. In fact, there is no algorithm. You’ve put the hard work in to build up your list of contacts, and you rightfully have unrestricted access to them unless they choose to unsubscribe. When you want to say something, you say something, and it unfailingly lands at the top of their inbox.

With the relentlessly protean nature of search engines and social media, this is a benefit that cannot be understated.

Personalisation, segmentation and automation for the best results

Social media gives you the ability to target users based on their likes, dislikes, age, gender, and other similar factors. This can be an incredibly useful tool when it comes to sniffing out new leads; you can easily and relatively cheaply put your brand in front of reasonably qualified potential customers.

However, email’s personalisation and targeting is a little different. While you are limited to the audience you’ve already built, the personalisation possibilities once you’ve grown your audience are far more valuable.

Simple functionality – like the ability to call your contacts by their name – is widely used and reasonably effective. But with an intelligent email platform, and right data, you can do some truly amazing things.

For example, syncing ecommerce data with your platform adds almost limitless possibilities. If a customer leaves an item in their cart without completing the purchase, you can send them a timely reminder, or a small incentivising discount to win the sale. This can even be easily automated – working in the background for you to boost your revenue.

Similarly, one of our clients, The Vet Shed, have benefitted hugely from an automated ‘replenishment’ campaign. This pulls data from their ecommerce website, which triggers an automated email reminder when the customer is likely to be running low on a product: i.e, a reminder to stock up will be sent 5 months after they purchased a 6 months supply of flea and tick protection.

For reasons we here at Andzen struggle to fathom, it’s been reported that as few as 5% of businesses are making the most out of these ridiculously effective technologies.

The bottom line

Social media is important – but don’t let it eat up your entire marketing budget. Email marketing has a proven track record of excellent ROI, and can be leveraged incredibly effectively by ecommerce businesses.


Make sure your strategy includes social and email.

Hi, I’m Jackson; Andzen's Digital Content Producer. I write copy for our client businesses - whether it be email campaigns, blog posts, social media posts or something new. It's my job to write stuff that converts, boosts engagement and pushes brands to new heights. In my spare time, I enjoy piano, reading books, and writing short stories.

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