Email Smashes Social, Again, As Buy Buttons Fail And Inboxes Deliver

Regular readers will know this column is not afraid to call out social media for overinflated promises around reach and ecommerce returns. We have already had the very startling statistic that over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, email drove one in five sales compared to social's total of near one in every hundred. Today we have the news that this is being reflected in retailers becoming disillusioned with "buy" buttons on social media. 

Email company Campaigner ran a survey to discover whether clients were using "buy" buttons on any of the social platforms, and 16% were. The interesting part was that nearly three in four -- 72% -- are reporting that they see no meaningful return. Thus, 39% of those surveyed said they are going to roll back their use of social "buy" buttons. 

Perhaps the most encouraging part of the survey for email marketers is that it seems companies are beginning to see through the undelivered promised of social media gurus. In fact, for three in four companies where they have been disappointed in "buy" button performance, social is taking a slight back seat in the coming year with more money pumped into email marketing rather than social. In fact, the channel came out as the main tool that marketers were going to use more of next year -- ahead of social, content marketing and SEO with digital display coming in last place for new investment next year.

So there we have it. The "buy" buttons that were supposed to get around social's consistent under-delivery on ecommerce woes just simply aren't working. Three in four are fed up with their under-performance and three in four are saying their main priority for new budget next year is email marketing going forward.

It's worth throwing in here that Forrester agrees that email is a star channel. Forrester estimates that it cost just $5 to acquire a new order via email, but a rather more princely sum up $16 on social and a massive $25 on paid search. And by the way, that social figure is for paid social. For posts that have been boosted or inventory bought. It has nothing to do with the illusion of lots of fans equating to the kind of reach that drives sales. 

So when you consider that email brings with it permission to carry on a conversation going forwards and costs a third as much as social to earn a sale and a quarter a fifth as much as paid search, then you really do have to wonder why social has this allure about it, don't you? 

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2 comments about "Email Smashes Social, Again, As Buy Buttons Fail And Inboxes Deliver".
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  1. Dan Merton from LS Media, December 17, 2016 at 8:01 a.m.

    Email and social, while both considered sales channels, are tough to compare. Email is a tactical tool that facilitates orders from existing customers or list members. Social allows you to create content and provide value for public consumption, which should be used to build your email list. They are very different parts of the funnel.  Social is not good at acquiring new sales from cold traffic, same as email is not good at generation brand new customers. 

  2. Sean Hargrave from Sean Hargrave, December 22, 2016 at 4:25 a.m.

    A good point Dan, i think it's worth looking at the tactical, sales side because so many claims are made for social, particularly the gurus' repeated claims it can drive footfall, particulalry around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I'm sure it contributes and, to your point, plays a role in raising awareness and building lists. As a sales channel, there really is no comparison, though.