Does Social Media Deliver More Traffic Than Email?

by Michelle McGinnis on Sunday, February 19, 2012 in Email marketing

There’s a lot of speculation about whether social media’s explosive growth threatens email marketing. Perform a Google search on the subject and it might lead you to think the two are viscious enemies locked in mortal combat.

So we decided to look at the data to see whether social referrals are driving more traffic to brands’ websites and landing pages. We found that while social referrals are growing fast, email is still pulling in more eyeballs and traffic.social-media-email

The data, which is based on five quarters of activity among 392 clients, shows that referrals from our customers’ top five social media sites are on a tear between Q4 of 2010 and 2011, jumping from an average of 2,133 visits per month to 9,191. That’s an increase of 331%!

But email continues to deliver the largest share of both impressions and visitors. For some emails just getting someone to open the email is of value. (Those reading this article from their inbox, for instance.) The average number of opened emails per month grew from 98,001 in Q4 of 2010 to 123,982 in Q4 of 2011 – a 27% increase. Click-throughs to the companies’ web properties rose from an average of 11,360 per month to 13,470 – a 19% increase.

If the data confirms anything, it’s the immense value of email and social. A link coming from Facebook, LinkedIn or StumbleUpon might be the result of a peer recommending a resource to the visitor.

But remember: a click-through on an email is the result of them receiving the email, opening the email and then following the provided link. That’s quite a commitment.

If marketers want to maximize the value of their campaigns and assets, they’ll need to explore new opportunities in social media while simultaneously improving their email marketing with tools like targeting and segmentation. So ignore the prophets of doom, and concentrate on creating great stuff.

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