When we think of social media in the US, we think of popular channels such as Facebook and Twitter.  

However, there is one that is often overlooked but is just as important in your integrated marketing mix: email.

Email marketing’s intent and the behavior it tries to produce is similar to the other social channels and this will prove why the rumors of email marketing’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Successful email marketing and the network of sites and applications that make up what we today call social media rely on three important elements:

  • Engaging content.
  • Accompanying and relevant links.
  • The ability to share information.

The understanding of these three actions is imperative to help set strategy and goals in one’s marketing plan. There are more factors to consider when thinking about email as a mode of communication:

  • There are 2.9bn email accounts worldwide (The Radicati Group, Inc. Releases Email Statistics Report, 2010-2014).
  • Email is still one of the most popular online activities: 92% of U.S. adults online use email (Pew Research Center 08/09/2011).
  • 86% of people 18 and over share content via email (Marketing Profs October 2010).
  • Email is the preferred method of commercial communication by 74% of all online adults (Merkle View From the Digital Inbox 2011).
  • 58% of people in the U.S. start their online day by reading their email (ExactTarget ìEmail X-Factor Study 2010).
  • U.S. internet users engage with an average of 11.8 brands via Email, compared to 9.4 brands via Facebook and 7.9 brands via Twitter (ExactTarget Subscribers, Fans, and Followers: The Social Profile 2010).

These fun facts should be enough to make enough to make any online marketer salivate at the opportunities that this sort of reach could generate.

Let us not jump the gun though. We should not let our excitement have us move overreact and shape an email that people don’t want, unsubscribe from or report as spam.

Basic principles

Basic Principles: Strategy

As in all forms of marketing and that includes email and channels on the social web, research and strategy is imperative before you begin any campaign:

  • We must first identify the people with whom we want to communicate.
  • We then listen to make sure the content we have suits them.
  • If we don’t have a relationship with them, we should form one.
  • Then we need to provide useful information, the kind that they want, at a frequency that matches their needs and continue to do so.

Well thought out email campaigns are known to produce average open rates of approximately 20% and clickthrough rates of 8 – 12%. You can reach (and improve on) these benchmarks by thinking about what you want to say and to whom you want to say it before deploying your campaign.

These simple principles apply for everyone and in the marketing cases of email and social media; these principles almost make you think these two techniques are twins.

Wonder Twin powers activate


There’s one more aspect of email that makes is social in today’s online world. Not only can you share through email, but you can share through social media!

This tactic is one that is growing but still under-utilized by many. Creating ways in which an engaged user can easily share information is not only effective, it is appreciated. All it takes is a bit of code and the content in your email can be effortlessly shared on Facebook, Twitter and, dare I say Pinterest?

Once again, it is this behavior that demonstrates the similarities between email marketing and social media marketing. Yes, they are different channels. Yes, they are both based on relationships.

Yes, email marketing tends to get a bad rap, but so does social media at times. When it comes down to it, when done successfully, it’s all a conversation. What’s more social than that?