Who’s Winning: Social Media or Email Marketing?

by Keri Stafford July 04, 2019
blank notebook next to map laptop and iphone

Email marketing used to be the main way for businesses to directly market to their customers. But ever since social media came on the scene, it has taken up a large portion of marketing bandwidth for many companies, which has spurred the debate of which is more effective: social media marketing or email marketing?

Currently, Facebook has over 2 billion active users, Instagram has 700 million, and Twitter has over 300 million users. While these numbers are quite impressive, it turns out that 91% of all US consumers still use e-mail daily² and email has three times as many user accounts than Facebook and Twitter combined³. Only 74% of the population uses social media in some way³.

In 2017, there were 3.9 billion email accounts with an average of 1.7 accounts per person. While social media usage is continuing to grow as well, its numbers just aren’t at large as email usage numbers. Even for people using social media, the organic reach (the number of fans that see the posts on their Newsfeed) on Facebook is only 2% for companies.

Meanwhile, the open rates for email marketing messages are 20%-30%¹, making email marketing messages five times more likely to be seen than those on social media. In addition, people are six times more likely to click through an email than to click through a message from Twitter¹.

Emails prompt purchases at least three times more than that of social media² and return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is 4300%¹, demonstrating how email marketing is helping companies build their audience and grow their business.

Social media marketing has its pros as it can run targeted marketing campaigns to people interested in certain products or services. The specification of campaigns is useful as it helps segment the target population which is not always easy with email. Email marketing can also seem invasive because there is repeated contact while customers can feel that social media marketing is not as invasive or forced upon them.

In business, most people don’t go on Facebook for 1-on-1 conversations or private messages instead they use Gmail or Outlook to discuss business matters. Email is used to build business relationships and communicate with clients and partners. People generally use social media for non-business contact compared to email marketing, which has more users who use it for business operations³.

Email marketing remains a significantly effective way to communicate with customers. We’re not suggesting that marketers move away from social media, it is a very effective way to reach your audience in a personal and authentic way, but when evaluating resources, email marketing should not be ignored.

Luminary Digital has a proven track record of email open and click-through rates that exceed all industry standards. By utilizing our unique and established strategies, we can help your brand develop highly successful conversion-oriented email marketing campaigns. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.


  1. Beashel, Aaron. “Email Marketing vs Social Media: Are You Focusing on the Wrong Channel?” Campaign Monitor. Campaign Monitor, 1 July 2014. Web. 07 Mar. 2015. http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/post/4220/email-marketing-vs-social-media.
  2. Aufreiter, Nora. “Why Marketers Should Keep Sending You E-mails.” McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 Mar. 2015. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/why_marketers_should_keep_sending_you_emails.
  3. “Social Networking Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Centers Internet American Life Project. Pew Research Center, 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2015. http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/.

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