Email Marketing vs. Social Media Ads for Sales & Promotions

When it comes to limited-time promotions or the big sale holidays, such as Labor Day (coming up in just a month!) or Black Friday, a business owner’s chief goal is to invest their time and money in platforms that will make the greatest impact.

Many companies rely on email marketing for promotions, while others swear by social media ads. But the truth is that both of these tactics provide uniquely valuable benefits that can help you reach your promotion goals.

Benefits of Email Marketing for Sales

Email is one of the best and most cost-efficient marketing channels for reaching a broad audience of consumers who already show an interest in your products or services. Better still, email users are very active—91 percent of email users check in at least once a day, and most of users check their email first thing in the morning.

Just remember that your email will land among dozens (if not hundreds) of competitor messages, so make yours compelling.

email marketing vs social media

Though some might argue that email marketing is outdated (how many times have you seen one of those “Email Marketing is Dead!” posts?), it’s clear from these statistics that email is still an extremely powerful channel.

Consider this: the average open rate for email is 21.73 percent, while Facebook organic reach has decreased to about 6 percent. Think you might have better luck with Twitter? One marketer found that less than 2 percent of his followers actually see his tweets. So while social media may be an awesome tool for reaching new people, email may take the cake in terms of lead nurturing.

email open rate data

Email marketing also boasts higher conversion rates than any other marketing channel. One report found that 66 percent of online consumers made a purchase as the result of email marketing.

Conversely, only 20 percent made a purchase as a result of a Facebook promotion. This is largely because most consumers are familiar and comfortable with receiving marketing messages via email, while retargeted social media ads may seem invasive or interruptive, and organic social media promotions may be missed entirely.

And because of email marketing’s ability to achieve high conversion rates at a lower cost than paid social ads, it has the potential to provide a better ROI than social media.

When Should You Use Email Marketing?

So, we’ve thrown a lot of numbers at you, but what does all of this mean for your holiday sales and other sales marketing? Below, we’ve put together some tips for getting the most out of email marketing for your promotions:

Send your latest holiday promotions to your email list. Since consumers have come to expect marketing materials in their inboxes, they are more likely to respond to sales content in an email than on social media. You can use this to your advantage by letting everyone on your email list know what your latest holiday promotions will be. If you are offering a discount or coupon, you can put any codes or barcodes directly in the email. When it comes to special sales, deliver flyers to your email list that include the dates and details for each promotion.

Use email marketing to reach interested consumers. Make sure that you use email to stay connected with your customers and fans. If you advertise your holiday sales or promotions through social media, it’s important that you also directly deliver this information to consumers through email.

email vs social for holiday promotions

Drive traffic back to your website with specific CTAs. When marketing your holiday sales through email marketing, make sure to take the opportunity to drive traffic directly back to your site. Use a distinct and compelling call-to-action that invites readers to click for more information or to make a purchase. Link each CTA to a targeted landing page that provides more details about your holiday promotions. You could also link directly to a product page for easy purchase.

Benefits of Social Media Advertising for Promotions & Sales

Email marketing may be a great way to reach your current and past customers and influence direct conversions, but social media can also be a valuable tactic for advertising your holiday promotions. Overall, social media channels have a much higher engagement rate than email marketing – consumers are more likely to share social media content from brands than they are email content.

One study shows that 57 percent of global content sharing activities happen through Facebook, and 18 percent occur via Twitter. However, only four percent of shares come from email.

social vs email for engagement

Though email may have high conversion rates, it only allows you to engage with those who have opted in to communication. The more your followers and fans share your holiday sales and other promotions, the better you’ll be able to expand your reach to new consumers.

You’ve seen how crazy everyone gets on big shopping holidays. People will actually camp outside a store if it means they’ll get a good deal. Social media is built for engagement and sharing, so promoting your holiday sale on social media is a fantastic way to take advantage of that buying frenzy. Just make sure that you create posts and ads that people will want to share (of course, it never hurts to offer a screamin’ deal).

When Should You Use Social Media Ads?

Social media results are often better for brands when they use paid ads in combination with organic posts. The main reason for this is that social media channels like Facebook have access to a wealth of third-party data. This data allows you to reach a uniquely targeted group of consumers who are most likely to be interested in your holiday promotions.

holiday sale facebook ad

Via www.sealskincovers.com

Here are just a few occasions where you might use social media ads over email marketing:

Use social media ads to reach new audiences. When it comes to email marketing, you can only reach your current email list. Unless your post is shared, the same goes for organic social media posts. However, with social media ads, you can reach brand new audiences.

Encourage sharing across social platforms. Whenever possible, encourage followers and fans to share your content so that you can reach an even wider audience. Social media contests, such as an Instagram giveaway, are a great way to promote sharing, especially on holidays when everyone is hunting around for the best deal.

Improve brand recognition. Social media ads are also ideal for improving brand recognition. By placing ads on the social media platforms that your target audience frequents most, you can start to build up a larger fan base. The more familiar consumers are with your brand, the more likely they will be to make a purchase—especially when they come across your holiday sale. Try running a brand awareness campaign on Facebook prior to your big sale.

brand awareness campaigns

Using Email Marketing & Social Media Ads in Concert

If you want to get the most out of your holiday sales marketing budget, you will need to stop looking at email marketing and social media ads as if they are at odds with one another. It’s not an either/or situation. Instead, consider how you can use both tactics together to drive more sales from your limited-time offers and holiday promotions.

There are a few ways that you can use both channels in tandem to optimize holiday marketing:

Grow your email marketing list with social media.

One of the downsides of email marketing is that you are only able to reach the contacts that you already have. However, you can use social media to help you grow your email marketing list so that you have an even larger audience for your holiday sales. One way to do this is to promote your opt-in offers across your social media profiles. Consider offering some sort of incentive for joining your email list, such as a special coupon code.

If you want to expand your reach even further, consider using paid social ads as part of your strategy to boost email opt-ins. Create ads that promote your email list opt-in offer, and deliver this ad content to individuals who are similar to your best customers. Social media platforms like Facebook offer effective targeting features (e.g. lookalike audiences) that allow you to reach those who are most likely to be interested in joining your email list.

social media advertising versus email marketing

Via Instapage

Use social media to help boost email marketing conversions.

Use social media to engage your followers and fans. In addition to educating them about your latest products and services, you can also use this channel for two-way communication to learn more about what makes your audience tick. Start a conversation on social media to gauge their interest in new products, services, and promotions.

Then, you can use what you’ve learned to drive even more conversions through your email marketing. For example, let’s say that you’re running a Labor Day sale that features a buy one, get one promotion. You might use social media to educate your audience and let them know about the sale, and then later use email marketing to drive traffic to the product page.

Email & Social Work Better Together

When it comes to promoting your sales, email marketing and social media ads don’t need to be archenemies. In fact, there is no reason why you cannot use them both together to reach your sales goals.

The key to getting the most out of your marketing budget is knowing when to use each tactic to optimize your impact. Social media is a great tool for reaching new audiences, engaging individuals and gauging interest in promotions. On the other hand, email marketing can help you engage with those who have a direct interest in your brand as well as users who don’t have social media accounts on the platforms you use.

For your next sale or holiday promotion, use email and social media marketing together and see the magic at work!

About the Author

Andy Beohar is the Chief Inbound Marketing Strategist at SevenAtoms, a San Francisco agency. At SevenAtoms, he manages and develops inbound marketing and Google AdWords strategies for companies with the goal to substantially increase their online visibility, grow their brand and bring in more leads and conversions.

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