Like any answer to a content marketing question: it depends. It depends on the product or service you offer, the type of business you own or manage, and the audience you’re trying to attract and convert into customers. It also depends on your marketing objectives and content goals, while that pesky budget continues to muddy the water. Give yourself clarity with a different perspective – rather than asking is one better than the other, consider if they should work together instead. The potential reach alone is enough to advocate for social media marketing. Users of social will reach 3.5 billion in 2020 according to Social Media Statistics and Facts by market.us; approximately 7.9 billion people inhabit the earth and over a third of them are using one platform or the other. And it gets sweeter for savvy marketers willing to study each channel’s unique advantages. The app developers have a deep understanding of their users, and that information is wickedly valuable and widely available. A quick Google search later, and you can learn that: LinkedIn is the number one channel for B2B marketing with 90 million accounts being senior-level influencers TikTok is dominated by teens and is one of the fastest-growing platforms in the world Research the demographics of your primary customer and compare them to the users on each platform; find the channels that align and narrow your focus when necessary. Here’s an example, given Facebook is favored among Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, it’s ideal for promoting a gym’s ‘Fit over 40’ workout program. Likewise, if you’re launching a product suitable for teens, Snapchat and TikTok are a perfect match. When you pair user stats with other facts of social, your marketing becomes even more effective. Instagram tells us that over 200 million of the app’s users visit a business profile daily, while three-quarters of shares to an e-commerce site originate from Facebook. Which means by consistently posting and linking back to your online store, you give consumers a reason to return to your feed each day and get more leads landing on your website. What you share, and don’t share, is driven by how much you know about your audience. And there’s a lot to be gleaned from their behavior online. Through clicks, comments, and shares, you can track and measure what content users find the most engaging, view how they’re interacting with your brand, and hear what they’re saying about your competitor’s products and services. Makes sense on paper, but let’s break it down into actionable items you can execute right away: Review Facebook groups for content ideas and key contributors – identify common topics, comments that sparked controversy, and the most influential members Research the competition’s social channels – note their top-performing posts, which ones flopped, and areas of disconnect that you’re able to bridge Reflect your followers’ language and emotional triggers in your messages – speak in their own words and create a personal connection using empathy Each app is packed with audience insights making social media the path to a rich understanding of what matters most to your target market. Remember, the next time you’re at a loss for post ideas, your audience holds the map. Social monarchs know the marketing opportunities their channels provide businesses. The result is a price being put on your audience’s eyeballs and limitations to your organic reach on social media. This means you can’t just rely on posting compelling content through your target’s network of choice – if you want to be seen by as many people as possible, you must pay to play. However, the good news is that app developers also know you won’t waste your budget on an ineffective medium. They work diligently to offer as much value as possible when using their advertising technology. The organic reach on Facebook is only 6.4%, but if you pay The Man and boost a post, it jumps to 27.3%. Another pitfall of social media is that users are becoming concerned about its infringement on their privacy; some are convinced the apps are listening in on their conversations. Scott Swanson, CEO of Aki Technologies, warns us of marching customers straight into the uncanny valley by stating, “Getting too close to consumers doesn’t help your brand; it actually poses a risk by making them uncomfortable.” It’s tempting to take advantage of precise targeting algorithms, yet a too-close-for-comfort approach is creepy at best. But you can avoid wandering into the uncanny valley with these five tips (applicable for both social media marketing and email marketing): Knowing is half the battle – consumers might not know how algorithms work, but you should; gain an understanding of the technology so you realize when to take a step back. Honesty is the best policy – when Amazon recommends a book, they’re upfront by telling you their suggestions are based on your past purchases and recent searches. Set the boundaries – knowing where the valley begins for your audience determines how far you can step before they start pushing back. Don’t get too personal – using click-through behavior to retarget your customers is one thing but including private data in your messaging is going too far. Timing is everything – the right message at the wrong time can be unsettling; some caffeine lovers might get confused by seeing coffee ads at midnight Some marketers are scratching their heads wondering if email is dying, which is a legitimate question given its prehistoric nature. I like to think of it as the OG in digital marketing; it’s been around since the dawn of the internet. But just like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, email is still rockin’ hard. In fact, HubSpot’s Email Marketing Stats for 2020 supports the argument by reminding us that 99% of consumers check their email daily, and it towers over social media with 5.6 billion active accounts. That’s over half of the world’s population. Email is also one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing out thereby generating $38 for every $1 dollar spent, which is an astonishing 3800% ROI. No, that’s not a typo, email marketing offers a 3800% return on your investment. Not only does it save you money, but it earns you more as well. What about anti-spam laws in the U.S. (CAN-SPAM) and Canada (CASL), you ask? That only makes a stronger case for email’s effectiveness. In order to send a prospect your newsletter, they must subscribe to it or explicitly tell you to sign them up, If they’ve opted in, that means they really want to hear from your business – they’re labeling themselves as a qualified lead who are open to your marketing messages. An important differentiator between CAN-SPAM and CASL is that U.S. businesses are no longer allowed to email a recipient if they opt-out of a newsletter, whereas Canadian companies have adopted the opt-in model. That said, it’s best to encourage consumers to join your list as unsolicited emails are often viewed as spam, which leads to your newsletters being ignored and your address getting blocked. It’s important to note that 73% of Millennials, which are becoming the majority generation states the Pew Research Centre, prefer email communication with businesses. With that in mind and knowing how familiar (and critical) they are with modern marketing, it’s more important than ever to communicate with consumers on their terms. Technology empowers businesses to act as shepherds and turn leads into customers and repeat buyers. Customer Relationship Management tools (CRM) such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and ActiveCampaign give you the ability to build customer profiles and gain an understanding of their individual buying journeys. You now have the capability to segment your list based on your contact’s specific needs. Here’s an example, a hardware store sends a welcome email to first-time subscribers asking them to choose the products they’re most interested in: Automotive Parts, Gardening Supplies, Kitchen Appliances, or Storage Systems. Each subscriber is then placed in a separate list based on their selection. A day later, they are sent another email specific to that product type with an offer such as: 10% off their first purchase A link to a video tutorial (How-to Make Your Neighbours Jealous with These Easy Landscaping Tips) It’s vital to make the offers personal to the leads within each segment of your list. In this illustration, the marketing manager was paying attention to the comments in relevant Facebook groups. She knew her auto parts prospects were motivated by discounts, while those with multiple children are in dire need of an orderly house. Taking it a step further, an email sequence is in place that follows up with non-buyers presenting them with a different offer or a more personalized message to encourage the conversion. Likewise, those that did buy are emailed with a list of related products or information on the store’s loyalty program. By niching down, businesses are seeing a 760% increase in revenue – speaking to your customers as individuals through email builds trust unparalleled by any other form of marketing As you can see, the power of automated sequences combined with optimization, personalization, and segmentation is undeniable. Let’s twirl back to the original question of what’s more effective, social media marketing or email marketing? The answer still depends on what’s best for your business, but an effective approach involves utilizing both in conjunction and boogieing your way to success. When it comes to your overall content marketing strategy, the goal is to nurture your leads and transform them into paying customers. Social media platforms let you engage with consumers in a fun, interactive way and provide incredible insight into what they’re interested in, the language they use, and the content they care about most. Using this data, you’ll inspire your audience to like, share, and comment on your posts, and more importantly, click to your website or landing page. From there, beyond selling your products or services, the goal is to encourage visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. Reward them for doing so and begin the nurturing process by curating persuasive emails with compelling offers. Now that’s content with a purpose.