Marketing automation tip: where do customers prefer to hear about promotions?

Puppy in Boat2Social media marketing is on fire right now. It seems like every advertisement, commercial, or email refers the customer to a Facebook or Twitter page with a promise of special offers or other enticements.Why is this? Perhaps it’s because the speed of social media enables users to take advantage of viral marketing. Perhaps marketers appreciate the immediacy of the medium, which allows brands to be at the top of customers’ minds for an extended period of time. Or could it be that people like to communicate on a more personal level rather than receiving just a list of sales and dates?

The current popularity of social media marketing is probably due to a mix of things. The rapid response time of social media naturally lends it a more ‘personable’ tone, so why wouldn’t a company want to connect with customers on this most basic level? Plus, the amount of press social media marketing receives makes you believe that you are missing the boat if you aren’t participating.

But are you really missing the social media marketing boat?

A recent Silverpop study found that 38% of those surveyed preferred to receive promotions and deals via email – more than via any other avenue.

Social, purportedly email’s largest competitor, was favored by a mere 3% of respondents. In fact, more people preferred to receive promotions via a brand’s website, mobile apps, and even newspapers than by social media outlets.

Silverpop EmailvSocialSilverpop EmailvSocial (1)Graphic from Silverpop presentation PlacePunch Customer Overview.

Marketing automation’s value becomes even clearer when looking at revenue. Whereoware has seen clients’ email campaigns generate almost 6.5 times as much revenue as social campaigns. This number can go even higher, depending on how much investment (or lack thereof) is put into a social media campaign.Why is there such a difference? One thing to keep in mind is why customers are using certain outlets. Those who frequent social sites are likely there for ‘social’ reasons – and their interpretation of social may not jive with receiving offers and messages from brands. Social networking encourages real-time interaction with other people, so customer-service-type interactions vs. hard selling may be better received by customers.

What can you do about it?

We know that people like the social aspect of things, but email seems to be generating more revenue. Good news: social and email don’t need to be entirely divorced from each other! Instead, they should work together to support each other. (For tips on how to do this, see Marketing automation tip: three ways to “socialize” your email).

On a final note, consider the Silverpop study in a different way. Even though 38% of customers favored email communications, 3% did want to hear from brands via social media. It’s a small number, but not one you should ignore if you can help it. The bottom line is that customers will always have a variety of preferences, and it’s important to reach customers where they feel most comfortable.