Industrial Companies shouldn’t Replace Email Marketing with Social Media

Right off the bat let me say that this post is not about email marketing versus social media. However, I’ve had conversations with manufacturers and industrial companies where I am asked if email marketing is still relevant and effective since all the talk these days is about social media. Yes, social media generates all the buzz but discarding email marketing, a tried and true workhorse would be a mistake and here is why.

In a March 2012 online survey of US marketing professionals, trade publication Chief Marketer found that the most popular tool in digital campaigns, according to 78% of the respondents was email marketing followed by Email newsletters (59%) and a close third was social media at 58%.

Here is a chart from emarketer.com showing the growing number of tools used by marketers to improve Website engagement.

Is email marketing effective for engaging with an industrial audience? The answer is YES according to the research report, “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today” published by GlobalSpec. 70% of these companies use email marketing to in-house lists as compared to 57% using social media.

It would be impossible to do lead nurturing or inbound marketing without email marketing and using social media alone. As I said at the very beginning of this post, email marketing and social media are not substitute industrial marketing tactics but they complement each other. Social media is very good as a conversation starter that drives traffic back to your site and/or blog. IMO, they both belong in an industrial marketer’s toolbox.

However, email marketing is much better suited for turning those clicks, likes and fans into deeper discussions, building relationships and converting them into customers. (See my post, “Making Industrial E-mail Marketing More Relevant”).

I have found this particularly true with marketing that targets engineers and industrial buyers where the buying process is long and complex with several stakeholders involved. Paul Gillin (@pgillin), speaker, writer and social media marketing strategist described this very well in one of his columns for BtoB Magazine. He wrote, “The bigger and more complex the decision, the less likely it is that those who influence it are sharing their recommendations on Facebook.”

To make email marketing and social media work together where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, requires a lot more planning and careful implementation than just adding social media buttons to your email campaigns.

How do you use email marketing and social media?

7 replies
  1. Bob McCarthy
    Bob McCarthy says:

    Hi Achinta

    Great topic. I see social media as a website traffic feeder system.

    You make your connections on social media, then invite them back to your website and/or blog to learn more. Once they are on your website, you need to employ lead capture strategies to convert those visits into leads.

    Then you use email to nurture your new leads.

    Email is broadly accepted as a one-to-one communication channel for pretty much everyone these days.

    Reply
  2. Michael Selissen
    Michael Selissen says:

    Achinta,

    You allude to a situation I’m seeing as well. And that is, vendors really are trying to get their arms around digital marketing. But they’re having difficulty figuring out how the tools work together, which ones can be substituted, and which are optional.

    It gets harder when surveys cast different tools as equivalent. Or when workshops on individual topics like SEO or social media don’t show how the tool fits into the whole.

    Perhaps we marketers can do a better job of explaining the big picture and how each tool and channel interacts in a systematic way.

    Thoughtful post!

    Reply
  3. ADI
    ADI says:

    Great article. Our company thrives off of our email marketing list. Social media has been great but it will be awhile before I see it taking over in the industrial marketing field.

    Reply

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