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Social Media versus email marketing: Why you should combine both?


As a social media consultant, I have always embraced and preached the benefits of well done, strategic social media and what it can do for your business. It simply can’t be beaten as an effective way to reach a new audience and learn more about your current one. It is also for so many businesses the start of their marketing journey.


But as I also tell people, there is a risk to putting all your eggs in one basket. We are also increasingly seeing people’s social media accounts shut down overnight, leading to the loss of those carefully nurtured followers and often your content. This can’t happen with your email list – the list is yours, and people have opted in to receive content from you!


In the online age, we all have a lot of choice about what we buy and who we work with, and people need to get to know us and see us and our content many, many times before they purchase from us. As a business owner, you need to give people the opportunity to see that message and get them to a place where they understand why they want and need exactly what you are selling. 

Why do I need to both?

Quite simply to support your customer’s journey and establish a relationship with them. No one marketing channel is perfect, and we do need a combination of things to make our marketing work smarter and harder.  

We all need to build a sales funnel of people who need our products and services and take them to the point where they become a client and one that will recommend us to their customers and friends.

But first of all, people need to know you exist. That’s where social media comes in. When done well, social media can get you in front of the audience you want and need, build your reputation and provide a window into how you operate and, crucially, how you can help them.

In contrast, those on your mailing list are (or the one you are planning to build) are a little bit closer to you. They have either:

To sum it up, a combination of social media and email marketing is extremely powerful.

To put it into the words of Erik Harbison: ‘…Social Media is the cocktail party. Email marketing is the meet up for coffee. The original one-to-one channel’.


Read on to find out the key differences and some tips on combining the two. 

Social Media: The start of the funnel

People tend to use social media for pleasure. They are there to browse and are unlikely to be looking for a particular product or service that they have decided to purchase (that’s what googles for). 

According to Smart Insights the top reasons for people using social media are:

  1. To keep up with friends and family
  2. To stay up to date with current affairs
  3. To fill up spare time

Regardless of this, social media is still super important for businesses.  It’s a  highly cost-effective way of raising awareness of what you do, building connections and creating a community!!

It’s also great for social listening and learning about your audience. Over time you will start to understand what resonates with your audience, what is helpful to them and what type of content they need from you. 

You can continually access a new audience and build relationships without people having to constantly opt-in. 

But there are also some downsides to social media. Firstly, only a small percentage of your audience will see your posts as you are competing for a limited amount of space in the newsfeed.

Secondly, you are subject to changes in the pesky algorithm and reliant on a third party (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc.) to keep you connected to that following you have carefully built. 

Thirdly, it can be hard to stay on top of the workings of each platform and come up with fresh ideas to keep your audience engaged. 

Quite simply, social media is there to provide a taster, raise awareness and get your audience thinking YES!! I want to know more. How do I find out? 

You then need to consider the next step’s – how will you turn those followers into raving fans and customers? Those who engage with you remember what you do and come back for more. 

The power of email marketing

This is where email marketing comes in. In contrast to social media, your email will be delivered directly to that person’s inbox.  They may not choose to open it straight away, but they will see it, and your name will be front of mind. 

According to Mailchimp, email marketing has an average global open rate of 18% doesn’t account for all those who spotted that email in their inbox and were reminded that you exist. 

In contrast, Facebook posts will only reach around 3% of your followers. 

Moreover, you can serve specific content to individual people on your mailing list based on

You can also see which individuals are regularly engaging with your emails. The higher the email open rate is – the more interested they are in your products and services.

Email also feels a bit more personal and is often addressed to us as individuals from another individual, which psychologically makes us feel a little bit special!

This is a golden opportunity for you, so you will need to make the most of it and ensure they are getting the content they want and need, and that helps them to make a purchase decision.

In return, you get the opportunity to own that list (no risk of having your account shut down or that pesky algorithm changing). But you can also monitor which individuals are most engaged with you and also how they got there! This will help you understand who is likely to buy and which products or services resonate with them.

How do I start my list?

If you are still reading this, you probably think this sounds great, but how do I even make a start on my mailing list, and what would I talk about?

If you are a product-based business that retails online, you have the option to ask people to opt in when they purchase a product. You can even run a £ or percentage discount on your website to encourage people to join your mailing list and claim that discount off of their first purchases!

I have honestly lost count of the number of times I have chosen one website or product over another because of this very thing. So you get a sale and also a commitment to continue marketing to that person on a one-to-one basis—a total win-win.

Suppose you are a service-based business owner, though? In this case, it isn’t as simple as offering a discount on your products or services in exchange for an email address. As people’s consideration to purchase from you is mored considered and probably won’t be on a whim – the likelihood is you will still be building that ‘know, like, trust factor. 

You will therefore need a compelling reason for people to opt-in. This could be as simple as a downloadable freebie to help them or their business, a free video or masterclass, a fun quiz, or even a competition!

 You will need to know what your audience wants and what is helpful to them – So make sure you do your research!

You will need to create something and make sure it is easily accessible via your website and social media links – so your audience can easily find it and download it. You will also need to ensure you have an email marketing system up and running: Mailchimp, mailerlite and active campaign are all good options. 

Lastly, you will need to have a strategy in place to onboard and regularly email those on your list. This will need to tie in with your overall marketing strategy and support your sales. 

You will also need to shout loud and often about your list and your freebie on your social media and in your other marketing channels to ensure that list continues to grow!!

Stuck for content ideas? Make sure you download my free Ultimate social media content guide and find some inspiration.