More companies and agencies view email marketing and social media as complementary channels, though the majority view the two as separate activities. 

For our Email Marketing Census 2012, produced in association with Adestra, we asked 846 company and supply side respondents about their views on the relationship between email marketing and social media.

While some still believe that social media means the death or decline of email, there is a growing belief that the two channels can work together. 

Here are some stats from the survey which look at how brands are using email to drive social media activity, which tactics are working, and what is holding them back. 

Complementary or conflicting channels? 

There has been a reduction in the number of companies saying they don’t do social media, down to 9% from 19% last year. 

Just 1% of company and 4% of agency respondents see a conflict between the two channels, which is encouraging. Also, more are beginning to see that the two channels can complement each other, though most see them as separate. 

Which of the following best describes the relationship between your (or your clients’) email and social media activity?

email and socia media

Using email to push social media

This is still something that email marketers can improve on, and many were simply unaware if they were generating social media activity through email. 

35% of company and 17% of agency respondents didn’t know how successful (or otherwise) they were. 

Just 25% of company respondents said email was successful in driving social media activity, though agencies (45%) seem to see this as a valuable tactic.

How successful is your email marketing in generating social media activity relevant to your brand, products or services?

Using email to push social media activity: success factors

Having sharing functionality on emails was seen as the biggest success factor by companies (51%) followed by creating consistent cross-channel content (50%). 

Recent stats showed that social sharing buttons can increase clickthrough rates for emails by up to 115%

Agencies take a different view, with 61% seeing incentives for engagement as the biggest driver of social media activity, followed by sharing functionality (60%). 

What makes email marketing successful in generating social media activity relevant to brand, products or services?

Barriers to success

Of those who had not been successful in driving social activity through email, 43% of companies said this was as a result of no social calls to action (40% on the agency side), followed by lack of engagement at 40% (32% on the agency side).

As well as using email to generate social media activity around a brand, it can work the other way. A recent study found that brands responding to complaints or compliments on Facebook and Twitter led to consumers being more receptive to their email marketing efforts

What does social media mean for the future of email? 

We asked respondents for their opinions on this topic and received a wide range of responses. 

The decline of email?

Social media will kill email. Very few under 18s use conventional email, rather message their friends through Facebook or have conversations on Twitter and other social media sites.

There will be a reduction in number of people who want to receive email as it becomes seen as untrusted communication vs. the trusted source in social networks.

Email and social will integrate

Integration of these channels will set marketers up for greater customer engagement and more relevant interactions.

The correct use of social media could become a tactic to increase email lists, while email will be used to drive users to social. At the minute, there may not necessarily be a lot of overlap between email subscribers and social media followers for some clients.

Integration should help change that. Most clients have realised that social won’t kill email; instead, integration is needed to optimise both channels.

Complementary channels

They are complementary channels will continue to work together. Emails will become the most customised and user friendly channel – social will continue to post generically as segmentation ability on social is weak at the moment.

In B2B, I see them as complementary. I cannot see email disappearing anytime soon. We use the email as a way to direct people to social media to them promote the event on our behalf.

Social won’t change email

Email is not dialogue. A strength of social media is the conversational element which might make it better placed for customer relationship management. Overall I don’t see social media affecting overall email volumes significantly – the email inbox remains key.

Nothing will change. People will always use email for one to one communication. An email address is personal. A social network isn’t.