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​In the rush for SME’s to get up to speed with their social media presence and efforts, the relative effectiveness and value benefits of email are often overlooked. Not anymore. Here are 5 reasons why SME’s should prioritise email marketing over social media (primarily focusing on Facebook for reasons outlined at the end of this post).

1. Reach

According to a study from the Radicati Group in 2015, there are about 2.5 Billion Email users worldwide. By comparison, Statista research from 2015 shows that Facebook is the only social media network with more than 1 Billion active user accounts at 1.49. Major email service providers target inbox delivery rates i.e. actually getting the email into the recipient's inbox of around 98 – 99%. Actual delivery rates will depend on a range of factors including:

  • What email service provider you use and their reputation.
  • The mix of email accounts your customers are using with differing approaches to SPAM filtering.
  • Wording, symbols and language used in your email headings.
  • Ensuring that your IP is certified.
  • How clean and up to date your email list actually is.

Recent research from Infolinks Feb 2014 indicates that the average organic reach from content posted on a Facebook page is 6.15% across all Facebook pages.

Source: Infolinks

Breaking it down further, Socialbakers 2015 research indicates that Video posts have the highest average organic reach at 8.7%, followed by status updates 5.8%, links 5.3% and photo posts the lowest at 3.7%.

2. Cost

Email acquisition costs can vary from effectively zero, having people fill in an opt-in form manually to other methods such as renting an existing email list costing upwards of $100-150/thousand records or $0.15/record and upwards. Once the recipient is acquired and has opted in, the act of sending out the email does not cost anything to reach them. On Facebook it will cost you nothing to organically reach the expected less than 10% of followers. In contrast, the average cost to advertise to the other 90% of acquired followers or non-followers on Facebook is as follows by industry. You can buy advertising on Facebook on either a cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM) basis.

3. Cut Through & Engagement

The latest research data from Mailchimp indicates that open rates for email campaigns average between 21 – 23% and click rates range between 2 -3% depending on the size of the business. Quora data indicates that the Average CTR% on Facebook Ads is between 0.04% - 0.05%.

Source: Mailchimp.

4. Content Relevance & Targeting

Depending on the sophistication of your CRM system and the amount of customer sales & other information entered and linked in your database, there is no limit to the amount of ways your email database can be segmented to develop tailored specific communication content that is uniquely relevant to them. By contrast, when advertising on Facebook, you are limited to segmenting Facebook users by: Whether they are a follower, Geographic Location, Age, Sex, Topics/Areas of Interest and also if they have visited your website.

5. Owned vs Earned vs Paid Media

Once you acquire a customer on your email list, you own that customer record – i.e. it becomes part of your owned media. Assuming you abide by the guidelines of the 2003 SPAM Act, you are free to communicate with that customer via email however & as frequently as you wish. In the earlier days of Facebook, when the organic reach of posts were much higher, you could rely on Facebook much more for free earned media. Now with the decline of organic reach, it has become like Paid Media to reach your followers on Facebook. Even though they are your followers, Facebook own the customer. As such you have to abide by the Facebook Advertising guidelines.

The recent example of University of New South Wales (UNSW) Facebook page being hacked twice in two days and the subsequent slow help desk response from Facebook illustrates the risk of relying on non-owned media. If the UNSW couldn’t get a quick and effective help desk response from Facebook, then what hope does a typical SME have? Still not convinced? No less an authority than McKinsey & Co believes in their article “Why Marketers should keeping sending you emails” Let me be clear, I am not advocating that SME’s abandon social media and Facebook. It still has a vitally important role to play.

The Sensis Social Media Report from 2015 indicates that the majority of small and medium businesses use Facebook exclusively as the social media platform of choice. As Evan Ravensdale, GM Digital at Sensis says in my interview with him on the report. “We recommend smaller businesses focus on one (social media) channel and do it well before adding new platforms”. Thus, my recommendation for SME’s is to incorporate a robust email strategy into your overall communications plan as well as improving the effectiveness of your Facebook social media strategy.

If you feel that your business would benefit from a discussion with Konrad please contact him by posting a project on the Expert360 platform.

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