Search & Email Beat Social Media in Online Sales, But Does It Matter?


In a day and age where everything seemingly evolves around social media, a new study from marketing data firm Custora found that email marketing has dramatically increased since 2009. Specifically, the report showed that email is delivering more online sales than both Facebook and Twitter, as the chart below depicts. (Click to enlarge)


What’s even more interesting is the fact that organic search is an even larger driver of sales than email. According to Custora, search is responsible for almost 16 percent of customers acquired.

Now, before you start throwing objects at the computer and swearing off your social media investment, let’s talk about this study. First of all, understand that this is one report. If you go to Google right now and search for studies related to why you should invest in social media, you’ll probably find, just as I did, that there are pages and pages of studies from many very credible sources.

I’m not saying that Custora’s study is not valid and that it doesn’t matter. It provides very interesting data and should be noted. However, the question is how does it impact your business, if at all.

To understand whether or not you even need to worry about this study, you need recall your goals in regards to social media. What are you trying to do? Do you want to build a presence, generate word-of-mouth, or increase brand awareness? Or, are you trying to drive specific conversions?

Even if you are trying to accomplish more conversion-related goals, social media has never been known for its hard sale approach. I realize that this is still hard for some executives to grasp, but social media is about relationships. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter weren’t designed to be marketplaces; they were designed to be social hubs. Any actual selling is just a bonus. What’s more, they are still relatively new, especially in the business capacity.

Both search and email are completely different from this perspective. For starters, search, AKA Google, is in the money-making business. Furthermore, the search and advertising giant has been doing this for a long time. It knows how to make search profitable.

Email marketing is also anything but new, as it is acclaimed with being one of the oldest forms of marketing. With email as well, many consumers give their email addresses out, which oftentimes means that it is not difficult to turn those consumers into customers.

Another factor with search and email is that since they have been around longer, marketers have more experience with them.

In the end though, it all boils down to your personal marketing strategy. It’s fascinating to see and understand industry trends, but before you revamp everything you do, tie it to your objectives and see how it measures up.

Image courtesy of Custora.

Abby Johnson

Abby brings a unique perspective to the mix because her background consists of both traditional broadcast and public relations to now the world of online. She is very skilled at looking at the big picture and understanding how to get the message across to a particular audience.

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