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Do Marketers Prefer Social Media or Email Marketing?

Social Media SurveysResearch and surveys are continuing to show the growing importance of Social Media for marketers in 2010, with nearly six in 10 planning to include social-media spending in their next-year’s marketing budget, according to the “2010 Media Planning Intelligence Study” from the Center for Media Research.

The Top 3 were

  1. Email 57%
  2. Social Media  56%
  3. SEO (or Keyword search) 50%

The Last 2 (interestingly) were Traditional National Mass Media 

  1. National TV  18%
  2. National Newspapers 15%

Note: The study was conducted conducted between July 17 and Aug. 10, 2009 and is based on a survey of 1,972 MediaPost subscribers, including 1,164 who report that they have planning, buying, approving responsibility for 2010

Social Medias Place in Marketing Plans For 2010

Another recent study by Alterian found a similar phenomenon in terms of the importance being placed on social media, with similiar results to the “2010 Media Planning Intelligence Study”. Despite the acknowledgement by marketers that email provides the most measurable ROI, social media continues to receive a large  portion of marketers’ attention because of its potential influence on consumers.

In another study that examined the complex relationship between email and social networks, The Nielsen Company found that the high Social Media consumers had high levels of email usage, likely because of the multitude of “status update” messages that flood social networkers’ inboxes.

Another study reveals that Social Email Campaigns are increasing in this current year(2009) by nearly 400% (A record number of email marketers are planning to bridge the gap between online social networks and their email marketing campaigns, and the number of social email initiatives is expected to grow 367% this year, according to new research from Ball State University, the Email Marketer’s Club and ExactTarget.(for further reading on this have a read of a white paper at Exact Target “Expanding the Reach of Email Through Social Networks Whitepaper“)

Note: The complex relationship between email and Social Media is being further investigated by The Nielsen Company and could prove to be interesting when its results are revealed.



So with the opportunities for marketers with the new medium of Social Media, there are still obstacles with the survey from Alterian revealing  “4 Challenges” in implementing Social media Marketing.

  • Strategy (46% of respondents felt  that strategy was the most important factor in defining the customer engagement agency)
  • Integration of online and offline channels (25% stated that the top obstacle to overcome in online marketing was the integration of online with database marketing and offline channels
  • Lack of ability to assess or manage internal infrastructure and culture challenges (25%) 
  • Integration of all the technology to power the cycle (20%) were identified as the biggest factors in implementing the customer engagement cycle.
  • So what are the major takeaways from these studies

    1. Social Media Marketing is to be ignored at your companies marketing peril

    2. Traditional “Email” is still one of the most important marketing distribution channels

    3. SEO is  vital in being found online and is still a core marketing strategy

    4. Investigating and capitalising on the surprising but interesting relationship between Social Media and Email

    So are the first three the major part of your marketing strategy?

    Jeffbullas's Blog


    • Hi there. I believe most of the 57% planning to use emails are those who also are designing post mails (DM) in html 🙂

    • Amazing Post! Especially the stats on the top 3 Media for marketers – all low cost, high impact. I’ve been bullish on Email for a while, and continually trying to figure out how to cross pollinate social media and email marketing.

      What I’ve done.
      1) Used Social Media as a Net – Attract People, Then Call-To-Action to an Opt-in. (Plan on testing Mobile via http://www.tagga.com soon!)
      2) Add value in email – deepen relationship.
      3) Connect users (via email) to other social profiles. Brand + Personal

      A good friend tells me that the best way to “monetize” social media is via a Tele-seminar – although I haven’t tested that, nor do I think it’s universally appealing.

      Either way – I continue to test (I’m big on metrics) many different customer acquisition channels.

      All the best.


    • Really good post. You might find that our most recent blog entry dovetails your thoughts perfectly, it’s titled Get Your Email On (http://bit.ly/2S0hAy) .

      It’s written by Brian Massey a noted columnist and author. Brian goes as far to say “If you don’t have your email marketing efforts nailed, you have no business investing in social marketing.”.

      Scott Hardigree


    • I am not sure why people are still planning on spending 50% on keyword search as shown in the first graph above. With social networks evolving at their current pace and with real time social searches due to Twitter opening up to Google, Bing and Yahoo, I just do not see how key word search deserves that much attention. My team has been using http://www.yauba.com/ for real time search which we have found to be very effective.

      I think people are actually underestimating the role that social media campaigns are going to take on in the very near future. The technology will push us their based on mobile platforms and access to large amounts of data from real time streams.

      • I’m thinking Social8Media that by these statistics, people are not underestimating the role of social media campaigns. That’s a high percentage of marketers jumping into reasonably unproven waters. I think it sounds like you’re underestimating Search actually. It’s the bread and butter (and email marketing too..it still works) of many of our clients and that’s w/o social. Add social into the SEO mix and you’ve got a nice little boost. Pay attention to social and you get some traction.

        Poor online video seems to have dropped quite a bit over the past year or is that partially rolled into social networks?

    • Jim

      Hi Jeff,

      I found the recent numbers interesting and I can’t say I was surprised when telemarketing was the least liked.

      As I said at TheeMailguide.com blog last week: “eMail marketing is kind of like a puppy wagging its tail at you and waiting to be picked up for a snuggle. Telemarketing is more like your next door neighbour’s Rottweiler greeting you when you arrive home from work by tackling you and licking your face like an empty peanut butter jar.”

      Jim Ducharme

    • Abi

      Another great post thanks Jeff.

      We’re constantly trying to educate the need to integrate email marketing with channels such as social and encourage people to go beyond just adding a ‘share’ button to the footer. Now we know marketers have put social up there with email – perhaps we’ll see some more joint up campaigns between the two!


      Abi Clowes
      Marketing Manager

    • Wow, I’m surprised that radio is so high on the list! I wouldn’t have thought so! Thanks for this great post.

    • Eileen

      Interesting study from Nielsen. I believe that social media usage does indeed drive increased open rates in complementary email campaigns and as a marketer I would try to make sure social media and emails were integrated. But, I wonder if Nielsen’s study would find increased click through if one looked one click further. Perhaps the open rate is enough, but part of our email campaigns was to drive traffic to one’s site and I found click through to vary wildly. Thanks for the thought provoking article, Jeff!

    • Akshaytrenzy

      Yes email marketing has become very important in reaching customers.
      As is explained in this article

    • Definitely surprised at radio’s position! I will say that it’d be interesting to see just how well email is really performing. What are the click-throughs?