Social Media, Search or Email Marketing?

17 Rebecca D'Cunha


In recent times, social media has captured the majority of the limelight compared to other channels such as email and search, in terms of digital marketing channels. Marketers love writing and talking about social media, as it’s fast growing, exciting and less money is actually spent on it. We have also seen that in the last couple of years, social media is gaining more importance in Google’s ranking algorithm.

However, according to a study by a Pew Internet survey conducted in May 2011 and results released this week, the proportion of people in the USA using social networking services is 65%, whereas 92% of internet users send email and use search engines. These figures remind us that even though social media is important, we shouldn’t let social become too much of a distraction.

Compared to less than 5 years ago, when only around 20% of adult internet users in the USA were tweeting and liking, 65% is actually a good figure and a tremendous growth, which undoubtedly cannot be ignored. However, when it comes to established, continued usage, social media is still not yet up to the same level as email and search.

Usage of search and email is also astonishingly consistent across demographic categories. For example –
96% of those aged between 18-29 use search engines and 87% of those who are 65 and older use search engines too. 94% of internet users in the 18-29 category use email while 87% of those in the 65+ group also use email.

Usage is also consistent through socioeconomic categories as 90% of those earning $30,000 per annum use search engines and 98% of those earning $75,000+ per year also use search engines, which isn’t significantly higher.

Some people may think that email is dying, however we can see from the survey results this is not true. Many organisations are still undecided about social media and can see emails as a vital part of their business as they use it every day.

Even though there’s a buzz around social networking sites, mainly because they are seen as “the new kid on the block”, search and email should not be forgotten. At the moment search and email can be seen as currently the two most reliable digital marketing channels. Saying this, all three channels have unique attributes and if they are all integrated in a marketing campaign, this can lead to a successful campaign.