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Emails vs Social Media: Which is more effective for reaching customers?

In a world that appears to be dominated by fast-paced social media, many companies are left wondering, “Are we wasting our time with emails?” Compared to social media, emails can appear clunkier or slower and a little more old-fashioned. The reality is that this could not be further than the truth.

To compare email and social media is a difficult task since they’re both very different means of communication, and both have their strengths and weakness. However, in our comparison, we want to look at the effectiveness of both for reaching customers with deals and promotions, and seeing a successful click-through rate.

Reaching Out

First of all, let’s look at reach. If you send 1,000 emails, the global average delivery rate is 79% (you can increase this by ensuring that you follow certain protocol to keep your emails out of the spam folder).

If you’re relying on Facebook reach, Marshall Manson wrote that by relying on organic rather than paid reach, Facebook pages with 500,000+ fans should expect to see their posts reaching only 2% of their fanbase. Twitter reaches are similar, about 2% of followers.

Even if we take email open rates into consideration, over delivery rates, you’re still looking at an average of 21.73%. Facebook and Twitter just don’t compare.

bar chart comparing email delivery to social media reach

What About my Return on Investment?

Measuring and comparing ROI for social media and email is extremely complicated, as each company uses each platform so differently. However, in 2016, Holistic Email Marketing compiled a concise report showing that email marketing delivered by far the best ROI in terms of consumer marketing. Take a look at one example rating the ROI from Social Media investment vs Email Marketing investment in the Retail & E-Commerce Industry:

pie charts showing comparision of roi between social media and email marketing

 Adding a Personal Touch

Emails allow your contact with recipients to be much more customisable, in terms of content but also in terms of who are you sending your content to. On Facebook and Twitter, a post is a general shout-out to all of your followers and fans, but emails can be personalised to each individual recipient. Not convinced of the benefits? Check out some of the findings from Campaign Monitor below.

Email Personalisation Stats


Although Social Media is at everybody’s fingertips, it doesn’t mean that email marketing is dead… In fact, it’s far from it! In the battle of Emails vs Social Media marketing, while both platforms have their benefits, when it comes to crunch time, Email Marketing tends to show the greatest ROI. Social Media is great for reminding customers that you’re still here, for building brand loyalty, but for getting click-throughs and purchases, Email Marketing is still the preferred option.

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