Don't write off E-mail Marketing just yet...

Marketing consultants are consistently advising companies to get social by adding Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks to their marketing strategies. According to such experts, failing to integrate social media marketing into overall marketing plans will 'leave them behind' and have them suffer the fate of companies believing they did not need those 'newfangled' telephones a century or so ago.

While this is without a doubt good advice for the future, at the moment, businesses should under no circumstance consider replacing e-mail marketing with these options. The reason for this is simple: e-mail marketing is, according to a report created by Custora, still very much the leading method of generating new, long-term customer relationships.

According to this report, online retailers using e-mail quadrupled their rates of acquiring new customers to almost seven per cent. Over the same period, Facebook barely registered as a method of generating a sale. The percentage of consumers connecting and making purchases via Facebook is tiny and remained flat over this period. Twitter apparently did not register at all. The most popular method of getting customers by far was, in fact, organic Google search. This was followed closely by pay-per-click ads.

The figures shown in the report were derived from an analysis of data collected by Custora over a period of two years. This data was based on tracking 72 million customers shopping across 86 retail Websites. In essence, tracking involved where consumers clicked from (Google search, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and so on); what they bought and how much of it was purchased over the full period of two years.

It was shown that consumers coming from searches were 50 per cent more valuable, meaning they were more likely to purchase more items and spend more, than average. Facebook customers just about reached average percentages, while e-mail customers were almost 11 per cent above average in terms of value. Twitter customers, on the other hand, were 23 per cent below average.

This does by no means indicate that Twitter is not a good way of generating business. It appears to be simply a case of marketing strategies involving Twitter not being quite up to scratch just yet. E-mail marketing has the advantage of already working with consumers who have knowledge of sites and have provided their e-mail addresses. Google ads also have a tendency to lead to conversions rather than just visits, whereas social media campaigns tend to raise awareness, rather than leading directly to purchases.

There is no doubt that in time, social media marketing will come fully into 'its own'. In the meantime, however, e-mail marketing still plays a vital role in generating and retaining customers.

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