Commentary

Email Smashes Social, Because It's Yours, Not Theirs

It's good to be reminded of some very simple home truths. Regular readers of this column will know that I am not exactly a fan of social -- or at least not an undying fan of the conference guru who writes off email for the new, trendy kid on the block, likes and emojis.

The fact is that email consistently delivers results for what one writer sums up in a very simple piece of mathematics this morning. Brands get very excited by the amount of reach they acquire in social media, particularly on Facebook. But there is a hugely inconvenient truth. There are no more free lunches. There haven't been for years. OK -- so you might get an appetiser, but most big brands use that as an indicator of whether a post if worth paying to promote. The days of a Facebook timeline displaying all posts are long gone. Only a small percentage -- estimated to be less than one in ten -- will see each post, and hence there's a general strategy of brands measuring engagement primarily to establish which messages should be boosted, rather than to hope to find the posts have earned sales through organic reach alone.

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As long as digital marketers accept that this is because Facebook has effectively taken back the majority of their users from brands, then the appeal of email becomes very clear.

It's a direct relationship in which companies soon find out whether people find their messages interesting or not because they either ignore them (hence the need for spring cleaning) or periodically act on them. In other words, the brand is in control, not Facebook. And if a customer has their eye caught by an offer, but they can't act on then and there, they can of course search for the email and convert later. Ever tried going back a week or two in your Facebook news feed to find that voucher code a brand you liked released? I thought not.

The elephant in the proverbial room is, of course, that in email a brand owns its lists, in social they're owned by Facebook. Ok, there's Twitter, where all posts get through but because of that, everything just zips past a customer -- usually unnoticed. 

With email, the only real issue is deliverability but the figures would suggest that way more than nine in ten emails will go to where they were intended. With Facebook, it's the same statistic, only the other way round. So which would you rather have, trendy social which will guide you as to which posts should be "boosted" or email where you own the entire list and every relationship on it?

Or put it this way: across Black Friday and Cyber Monday one if five sales came through email, yet social barely managed one percent. Enough said?

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