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The Role of Email Marketing vs. Social Media: There still seem to be questions about whether a business should invest time and money in email marketing or social media. 

We want to be clear in our opinion. It doesn’t need to be one or the other.  It should be BOTH!

Email marketing and social media are essential in building an audience for your business and require a place in your communication strategy – from brand awareness to consideration/conversion to direct response and building a loyal client.

Let’s start with some basics to see how these two communication channels work together to build your client base.

Benefits of Email Marketing 

Email marketing is a direct channel to communicate with your clients and prospects. Because email subscribers need to consent to ‘opt-in’ to receive your communications, they purposefully verify their contact details. They have expressed interest in hearing from you – right to their Inbox. 

This level of opt-in makes subscribers more likely to convert into paying customers. 

And, when clients and prospects opt-in, you can begin collecting data – that you now own – on their likes, dislikes, behaviors, and preferences, making it easy to build segmentation and customize content.

Below are five a of email marketing to consider when building your communications strategy:

  1. Purposeful Connection. Our friends at EarthWeb say the average (business) person receives approximately 100 emails daily. So, for a person to get updates from your business, that person must fill out a form giving expressed consent to get emails from you. From our point of view, a person willing to put in this much effort is interested in hearing from your business, which means they are much more receptive to your message. 
  2. Personalization. Email grants your business access to a person’s Inbox because they have expressed interest in what you have to offer them. And with the built-in sophistication of email platforms, you can learn about your subscriber’s preferences relatively quickly, allowing your email marketing to become more direct and personal.
  3. Search Engines Don’t Have a Say. There is no ranking system or algorithm limiting your reach in email marketing. This means you are in control of your success. So, if you take the time to test, learn and apply your findings, your email segmentation should result in sales and client loyalty.
  4. Relevant content. As mentioned above, anyone that has subscribed to your email has already shown interest in your business, product, or content. And since you already know what they like, your email marketing can deliver highly relevant content and offers, resulting in better results and even more learnings. The more you know about your subscribers, the better you can segment your content and subscribers. 
  5. Ownership. Once you have an email, you have ownership over that relationship, unlike social media platforms and Google that continuously change their policies and algorithms, which makes reaching your potential clients more difficult. 

Benefits of Social Media Platforms

Social media is an internet-based form of communication that facilitates your ability to share mass-produced content with platform users. You can share information and create content with the intent to create conversations, community, and build relationships.  

Unlike email marketing, your business does not own your followers’ relationship or contact information. Therefore, you cannot access data that supports custom communications based on consumer behavior.

Now that we’ve reviewed the basics and understand the role and importance of these two marketing channels to your communications strategy, let’s look at how these two marketing channels fit within the traditional marketing funnel.

Brand Awareness

Prospects need to know you exist before giving you access to their Inbox. This is what social media for business is designed for and where it shines. 

We are an always-connected society that relies on social media to learn, grow our interests, and align with others – including businesses – with whom we share interests, likes and values. 

And because people follow people they like, whether they know them or not, potential clients will find your business if someone in their following likes and engages with your company’s content on social media. In a nutshell, it’s easier to be found (when you are not being sought) on social media because platforms consider user-generated preferences to serve your content to non-followers.

Social media platforms have their own algorithms for supporting brands, it’s important to publish consistent content that people have shown interest in and engage with and most likely some media budget. By doing this you will build awareness with people showing interest in your business.

Being active, engaging, and consistent on social media also builds your ranking in search engines. And we all know that if Google likes you, you will find your way on page 1 of search results, which is something every business covets.

Consideration / Conversion

Let’s stay with social media here. When you build a large enough following on social media, you will begin to see a pattern of behavior that will help you understand when brand awareness evolves into consideration and conversion. 

If you engage, listen, and review your content results, you’ll understand what people respond favorably to (and less favorably) and who is most likely to want more from your business. 

Once you have a solid understanding, creating social media ads designed for conversion is a great way to build your email list.

This is an excellent example of content that converts.

Creating conversion ads with a lead magnet is a great way to capture a larger audience based on your social media learnings. And this will result in a better ROI than if you cast your net wide without any upfront learnings. Through these conversion ads, you can test (and learn) what headlines, copy and images result in building a quality email list and positively impact your other defined goals.


For the folks here at PMW, the reason email marketing and social media need to have a prominent role in your communications strategy is obvious – they work hand in hand in building an audience for your business.

It’s not one or the other – it’s both.


To learn more about content that converts, check out these blogs:

Infographics – a necessary part of your content strategy

7 ROI-Positive Lead Magnets