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Social media vs email. Can we talk?

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Brett de Hoedt gets asked to train people in social media across Australia and of course he’s happy to oblige. He almost never gets asked to train people in eMarketing but he usually insists on adding it to the curriculum anyway.

Clients ask Brett to train in social media – they should really make a broader request:

“Train us to use whatever means at our disposal to best drive traffic to our website, build relationships with stakeholders, alert and inform people and look important. Most of all we want to convert as many people into taking some form of action with minimal effort.”  That, dear Citizen, would be email.

Social media is new and sexy, eMarketing is old and familiar – but it should be your priority.

Definition: eMarketing is just communicating to people, usually lots of people at a time via email. We use MailChimp to do this; you may use Campaign Monitor, Vision 6 (bad idea) or something similar. Maybe you send mass email via Outlook (God help you.)


email vs social media

Email beats search engine optimisation and destroys social media as a way to drive conversion. You all owe email an apology.

The problem is this: in most cases, for most organisations in most situations…email beats the tight hipster jeans off social media. It ain’t even close as this study conducted by Monetate and reviewed by blog Convince and Convert  shows. It is based on 500,000,000 website visits to e-commerce sites! Only .71% of people who came to a site via social media were converted into buyers. Email converted four times more. Only 1.55% of visits to e-commerce sites were delivered via social media. Email accounted for 2.82%. That’s a huge difference – would you like to nearly double your traffic?

The study investigates e-commerce sites but the goal in e-commerce is exactly the same as in the non-profit world: conversion. By “conversion” we mean inspiring people who see your message to take an action such as visiting your site, donating, buying or booking a ticket.

Why email wins?

email vs social media

The further you move from websites and email, the smaller your audience. We made this graphic ourselves. Can you tell?

Potential audience: aside from using the internet to search websites, email is still the second most common use of the WWW. As you move from using websites and email, to Facebook and Twitter your potential audience shrinks dramatically. At the end of this journey is Google +, Pinterest, Instagram and the like. Would you use mail to reach audiences if only 20% of people had addresses? How about if only 5% had addresses? Of course not.

Building your base: want to dramatically boost the size of your database? Of course you do. (If you don’t please resign.) Well that boost is easier said than done for social media which is usually slow to build. There are lots of ways to dramatically increase your email database – from competitions, petitions, to gaining emails from those who participate in your programs or in exchange for resources such as fact sheets and whitepapers.

Response: this is where email destroys the competition. Simply put – nothing beats email for driving traffic your website. A benchmark for the open rate to an email is 25%. 20% or less means that something is horribly wrong. Some Hootville clients have consistently scored 50% open rates. The equivalent to open rates on Facebook is “virality”. If your Facebook posts scored 25% virality you would be on the board of Facebook. A 1.5%-2% virality percentage is typical. Would you call 100 donors if you knew that on average only 2% of people would take your calls?

Segmentation: do you segment your Twitter followers or Facebook friends? With email this is standard operating procedure and a smart and easy move.

Automation: email can be set-up to automatically send emails based on time. Eg: seven days after subscribing you can send a thankyou and a list of seven articles to read. Eg: a year after a course was taken, send out an automated email alerting them to another course. You get the drift.

Portability: email is just as omnipresent as social media on smartphones and tablets.

Social media compared to email marketing

Can you guess? Yep. Email wins again.

At risk of overplay the excellent downloadable Monetate report shows (left) that email-driven visitors spend more time on your site.

In defence of social media:

Social media plays a large part in building your reputation. That reputation may well assist people to act on your emails when they receive them.

Social media is fast, fun and free.

Social media is a far superior way to stay in the minds of politicians and media who devour social media like they once devoured flagons of tariff-protected claret and cartons of Viscount cigarettes. (Ask your parents about this.)

Social media is excellent for keeping hot-to-trot stakeholders informed and outraged. It’s grist for their mills. It keeps your most passionate followers attached to you.

You want to be a leader? Best look like one – get on social media.

Social media should be in most organisations’ marketing mix. Some organisations may be more inclined to benefit from it than most especially:

youth-related causes with youthful audiences;

passionate causes into which people opt-in such as animal  causes, marriage equality, environment and dying with dignity causes. These audiences wants information, they want actions to take, they want grist for their kill.

However many of us are communicating with people who used our services long ago, donated once, are members because it is obligatory or because their loved one uses your service (among many others). These people are less passionate and do not want to follow your every tweet or Instagram image. (Who could blame them?)

They do however use email everyday to conduct their working lives.

using email to boost website traffic

Email needn't be boring.

Could your organisation function tomorrow without social media? What about if you lost email? Exactly.

It’s similar for your audiences – they can and do look at social media but they do and must look at email.

Finally: what brought you here? Email? Social media? Random Google search? Directly typing in our URL? Even with Hootville savvy, social-media literate audience nothing ever beats the ol’ Hootville Lowdown. Bless you email. Your comments welcome.


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Using social media to build your email lists

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using social media to boost email subscribers

We like social media. We love eMarketing.

You’ve heard us bang on and on about eMarketing outperforming social media. In our experience it’s true. We know we get more value for our clients from an email subscriber than a Twitter follower or Facebook friend. That said, there is at least one use for social media – building up your email database. Listen to Amy Porterfield of the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

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The nine secrets behind irresistible tweets.

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According to Evergreen Search there are 9 specific characteristics behind great tweets. It’s a perfectly OK list but it neglects some proven, measured ways to gain more retweets (the proof that you are tweeting well).

1. Images. Attach interesting images whenever you can. Pictures still tell 1000 words.

2. Links. Tweets containing links are retweeted far more often than tweets containing no link. It makes sense – how interesting can one be in 140 characters? People who never tweet any links must be just talking about themselves, shooting the breeze or – mercy – sending inspirational quotes.

3. Opinion – strong, consistent, confronting – works.

Lots more advice about Twitter and tweeting on our site.

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Makeover your Twitter page

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Some simple ways to take advantage of Twitter’s new display options care of Social Media Examiner.

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When to tweet?

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when to retweet

Take the weekends off.

You tweet hard for the money, no doubt hoping that your followers will recognise your genius and retweet you. Well genuises, you can take weekends off as it seems that retweeters have better things to do on Saturday and Sunday. At least this is what this chart from HubSpot reveals.



getting more retweets

Ask and thou shall retweet.


Humans are strange but utterly malleable. As this HubSpot graph to the left shows, ask followers to retweet your content and they will. Even the wording of how you ask effects the influence you wield. Who knew? You do. Exploit it.   


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Social Media Savvy 101 webinar announced

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Due to public demand (yes, really) we are holding another Social Media Savvy 101 webinar Friday August 17. All the details right here. This will be the only Social Media Savvy 101 webinar until at least 2013.

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Get more retweets, more often

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If you are tweeting it’s natural that you want your content to be retweeted. (For newbies, “retweeting” is when a recipient of your message, forwards it to her followers.) 

Having your content exposed to more people is a key way to build your following. It’s a particularly honest way to build your following as only strangers who are impressed by your content will choose to follow you. Very meritocratic.

get more twitter followers

People love links.

So what content is most likely to be retweeted? Take a gander to the left at this graph from which shows that tweeters who usually contain links in their tweets are the most retweeted.

This tallies with what we know about successful content – don’t talk about yourself, share something of value. Sometimes that value may be found courtesy of a link to your site but often it will be a link to a news site, a blog, a picture.

Note that neither inspirational quotes nor bitchy 140-character diatribes about conservative politicians fall into this category. Nor do “Good morning / good evening” tweets.

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How influential are you on Twitter?

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There are various ways to measure one’s worth as a Twitterer – the number of followers you have, the difference between the number of followers you have and the number that you follow and of course how often your tweets are retweeted. Hell – you may even analyse the value of the contents you disseminate.

social media training

Just 191,738 places to go...

One free, immediate way to measure and track your worth is at Retweet Rank which measures your retweets and ranks you accordingly. We mention this not because Retweet Rank ranks Hootville in the top 6% of tweeters globally but because…you know…we care about you. Deeply.    


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You probably have not heard of this StopKony thing but…

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StopKony twitter chart

Truly an overnight sensation.

Oh – you have? But we haven’t mentioned it. Who told you? Oh.

Well in any case this article from the New York Times details how the virus spread.

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Facebook changes for nonprofits afoot

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We’re Facebook cynics. Longer term Citizens know that we feel Facebook’s EdgeRank system is an immovable object separating you from you fans / friends. (In fact we wrote five posts about Facebook last year, each one a gem.) Hootville gets it greatest response from email, then Twitter. Facebook is cooler than shouting out the window and about equally as effective. Social media is a funny bugger to deal with.

facebook for nonprofits

Of course, if you are a global force use Facebook and its new look design. For the rest of us...

Anyhoo Facebook is rolling out changes for its Pages format which is popular with many nonprofits and their corporate cousins. Have an ogle at these early adopting Facebook-lovin’ nonprofits.  

It’s easy to argue that the new look is more appealing visually. It’s a lot more like a Welcome Tab (a special landing tab for your Facebook visitors as opposed to immediately seeing your Wall) which we’ve been recommending as the best way to improve your Facebook Page performance.

Our tough love advice? Tweet and invest in a website that is updated very regularly and encourages comments and interaction. Use email and Twitter to drive traffic to it.  have you checked which channels drive traffic to your site? We have but we still use Facebook anyway. For now.

Do you get value from Facebook? Comments welcome.

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