Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: Can You Combine Them?

Many marketers leverage both social media and email to promote their businesses. These two avenues are effective, and you can achieve impressive results using either one. However, which one is more effective than the other overall? At the very least, which one is better to start with?

This article will take you through a brief overview of how social media and email stack up against each other in a few key areas. We will look at their return on investment (ROI), reach, and more, giving you an overall understanding of which one would work best for you and your business.

Table of Contents!

Starting with the Basics

Before delving into the intricacies of email and social media marketing, let’s get the basics out of the way first.

I. Email Marketing

Email marketing is the act of sending emails to promote a product or service, build brand loyalty, and share relevant information regarding your business.

With this form of marketing, you as a business owner have direct access to clients you already know and have transacted with before. As such, you have an understanding of their tastes and preferences, which allows you to tailor your communication.

It is this level of personalized communication that allows you to appeal more to your clients and have high conversion rates.

Additionally, with email marketing and the use of email programs, you have direct access to your client’s contact details. As such, you can easily reach them at any given time.

This is extremely useful when you want to increase your sales or simply notify your customers of a new product or ongoing promotion. These aspects set email marketing apart, hence why they are preferred by most enterprises.

II. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the action of using social media platforms to connect with your audience in order to promote your service or product. Some of the most popular platforms include Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Using social media marketing is particularly useful if you want to build brand awareness and interact with customers on a more personal level. It also comes in handy if you want to gather customer data for future marketing activities and overall brand promotion.

Once you’ve learned the basics of both types of marketing, the next logical step is to compare them.

Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

Email marketing and social media marketing are both excellent in their own right. However, to gauge which one would work best for your business and take care of your current marketing needs, it is crucial to come up with specific features.

Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: Can You Combine Them?
Illustration by Flávia Mayer via Dribbble

These include ROI, market reach, how the marketing will be achieved, and, lastly, security and targeting.

 icon-angle-right What Kind of ROI Can You Expect?

Every business would like to see a handsome ROI for their marketing efforts. It is a reliable metric for measuring whether one marketing approach is better than the other, and legitimately so.

Email marketing, for one, has a significantly higher return than other channels. It is estimated that every dollar spent on email marketing generates $38, representing a 3800% ROI. Social media, on the other hand, returns an average ROI of 28%.

Such a high ROI for email marketing usually rides on the fact that the average email open rate is 15 to 25%. For an email open rate to be considered optimal, it needs to lie between 20% and 30%. For comparison, on Facebook, the click-through rate stands at a measly 0.07%.

 icon-angle-right How Many People Can You Reach?

Emails have been around much longer compared to social media. From a user-base standpoint, over 4.1 billion people use email globally compared to just 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of December 2020.

Additionally, over half of all internet users (58%) check their email first thing in the morning, prioritizing it over their social media accounts or Google searches, meaning you have a higher chance of your campaign being seen via email than social media.

However, on social media, if someone shares your content or posts, a certain number of their followers will see it, too. This can often result in far more exposure than you would achieve through email.

 icon-angle-right How Will You Achieve Your Marketing Objectives?

Achieving your marketing goals involves first identifying which marketing option to go with: email or social media. This step entails understanding what each option is good at, what your customers would prefer, and the resources you have at hand to execute your marketing campaign.

For instance, an email marketing strategy should be done if you have an already-existing email list from your previous clients. Otherwise, your emails will most likely end up in spam folders, and your reputation will be compromised.

If you are just starting out, social media marketing may prove more appealing and more suitable for your setting, particularly since it can help you grow an audience you can later convert into paying clients.

So, to increase engagement and followers, you can explore some social media contest ideas, from photo contests to sweepstakes, and create your own.

 icon-angle-right Security

With email marketing, you are the sole owner of your email list, which you have built over time and continue to build as you grow your customer base. This means that no one can decide to take it away from you on a whim.

Additionally, with email marketing, you can have all your clients’ contacts on a simple spreadsheet, which you can either store on a drive or offline on a hard drive or even a thumb drive.

On the other hand, your social media account can be blocked or closed at any moment, and you can end up losing your followers.

 icon-angle-right Targeting

With your email list, you can easily map out the different types of clients you have. For instance, you can easily categorize them based on gender, previous purchases, or overall preference, among other criteria.

Ultimately, this level of control allows you to best target specific customers for a certain promotion. You would be pushing for products they are already interested in, enabling you to achieve more sales from your email blasts.

Social media is vastly different. For starters, you are just a user on a specific social media platform. You can amass a following over time, but you have little to no control over what they do or how they get to view your content.

Additionally, when running a social media marketing campaign, while you can specify the target audience, you do not have as much control over who receives the promotion and who doesn’t.

After an email and social media marketing comparison it becomes obvious that each of them has its pros and cons. However, you may ask if there’s a way to combine them in order to smooth out your marketing campaign and find greater success. Let’s check it out!

How to Integrate Both Social Media and Email for the Best Results

Combining email and social media marketing allows you to maximize their strengths individually while addressing the shortcomings of one with the other. This will allow you to enlarge your market reach, grow your customer numbers, and boost your business performance.

Here is how you can go about it.

#1. Encourage Social Media Followers to Subscribe to Your Email List

Your social media audience might want to sign up for your emails. You should let them know that they can do so and even give them an incentive to sign up.

The incentives can be benefits such as exclusive offers or discounts upon signing up using a specific link.

#2. Promote Your Social Media Channels in Your Emails

Be sure to offer social media as an alternative to email subscribers who do not prefer emails or do not interact as much with your emails. Again, a simple statement that is short and precise should do the trick.

This cross-promotion is an excellent way to grow your social media with users already interested in your brand, products, and services. It will allow for an overall improvement in engagement and a generally higher-quality audience to whom you can further push your products and services.

#3. Upload Your Email List to Social Media

Take your social media up a notch by uploading your email subscriber list on the accounts you use. This will allow you to follow your subscribers on social media and even run more targeted social media campaigns towards individuals already interested in your business.

#4. Make Sure Everyone Is on the Same Page

You might have separate teams working on emails and social media.

It is important to ensure that they are all on the same page, maintaining your brand’s voice, mission, and value. This also translates into having a synchronized editorial calendar or project management tool that will allow for a smooth process.

Also, having a reliable client portal such as Content Snare can help define responsibilities and keep everyone in the loop regarding what needs to be done and who needs to do it.

#5. Encourage the Use of Customized Hashtags

Hashtags can help your business build a community on social media. A hashtag that is exclusive to your brand can help push it and even create more awareness.

It will also help gauge the engagement your brand is getting and its presence on social media. Be sure to mention this to your social media audience, as well as in your emails.

#6. Include Live Social Media Feeds in Your Emails

Build on your hashtag strategy by including live social media feeds in your emails. This way, should a subscriber click on the feed, they will be directed to your social media, ultimately growing your social media presence and offering customers another avenue where they can interact with the brand.

You can also feature simple posts on the email using tools such as Zapier, which will allow for more engagement and a quick redirect to your social media account.

#7. Use Social Media Ads to Retarget Active Email Subscribers

Retargeting campaigns have been known to provide a powerful way to engage people who are already interested in what you are offering. Such campaigns allow you to maximize your conversion rate and even increase your overall customer retention rate.


If you have to pick between email or social media marketing, then base your decision on your brand’s goals. Social media marketing is better at expanding your market reach and growing your engagement. Email marketing, on the other hand, is better at driving sales.

Understanding the strengths of each and using them together can help drive brand awareness, engagement, conversion, and retention, ultimately allowing for your business’s growth.

Also, this understanding will help you know how to complement the weaknesses of one with the strengths of another, thereby achieving more success with your marketing campaign and a higher ROI than using one approach over the other.

About the Author!

Roman Shvydun is a content marketer at Mailbird email client, he writes informative articles mainly about everything related to marketing, business, productivity, workplace culture, etc. His articles focus on balancing information with SEO needs, but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read.

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