With increased use of social media, many marketing professionals wonder if email will remain relevant. The question for ecommerce retailers then becomes where should they focus their efforts, and should they abandon email for social media?
comScore, the tracking and analysis firm, publishes an annual “U.S. Digital Year in Review,” which describes trends and rankings in U.S. Internet activity. The 2010 Review — available as a downloadable PDF — reported that email usage among teenagers age 12-17 declined 59 percent in 2010, and declined by 18 percent among those age 18-25. Only among users age 55 and older did email usage increase during 2010, according to comScore.
What does this mean for email strategy for online retailers? Not much, unless teenagers and young adults happen to be your main demographic. As teenagers and young adults mature, however, their behavior will likely change in terms of what types of media they respond to.
Email Versus Social Media: 3 Points
Nevertheless social media usage is indeed increasing, but email still remains a very important tool for ecommerce marketers. I’ve listed three key points about using email and social media, below.
Social media uses email. For every Facebook wall post or new Twitter follower, an email is sent to notify the user of updates. The world of social media would not have the stickiness it does without these constant reminders flooding our inboxes, driving us back to those sites. Asking a consumer to log into several different sites on a daily basis to check updates is a large commitment. Many rely on their inbox as their one-stop notification center to help manage the clutter.
Business communications depend on email. Most online transactions require users to enter their email address, and users expect to receive timely notifications afterwards. Businesses and consumers use email to communicate, not only promotional offers and newsletters, but also electronic versions of bank statements and order confirmations.
Consumers react differently to social media. Social media is, well, social. It’s a vehicle to stay in contact with friends, family and professional colleagues. For consumers, it can be a vehicle to voice opinions and make requests. Many businesses that use social media have found that consumers request coupons or deals that will directly benefit them.
For example, Ruby Tuesday — the restaurant chain — recently promoted a hamburger on the company’s Facebook wall. But, many Ruby Tuesday Fans instead requested a coupon to accompany the hamburger. In other words, the wall post itself generated requests for a coupon. Ruby Tuesday can generate revenue by responding to those requests.
An overwhelming percentage of adults depend on email. Many — but not all — of them also use social media sites. Ecommerce merchants will continue to use email as a trusted communication channel. They can use social media as a vehicle to solicit views of their consumers. By using both, merchants can enhance their brands, and grow their businesses.