Jun 25, 2012

Email vs. Social Media: The Differences in Consumer Engagement

by: in Email

At times I find myself spending more than a few minutes digging through an inbox loaded with newsletters and emails. No, it isn’t ‘spam’…I apparently signed up for all of it from companies I like. Often times, however, I find myself asking, “Why did I signed up for all this?” Then it happens. I inevitably come across an email that teases me with a half-off coupon for those designer shoes I’ve been eyeing, and I remember exactly why. Two minutes later I am clicking through to purchase, and likely then posting a pic of my hot new kicks to Facebook for all to witness the awesome deal I just got from X company.

In today’s very social, very mobile economy, consumers expect far more from the brands they choose to engage with, and they interact with them differently via various marketing channels. Two of these channels, email and social media, bring value through very distinctive types of consumer engagement – and each are key to maximizing the impact of your digital marketing strategy.

With the rise of social media marketing, email marketing has evolved over time to better integrate with other channels, however the main reason customers choose to allow you access to their inbox continues to remain the same, they want a good deal.

This theory has been confirmed not only via my personal research (read: shopping habits), but by a recent study conducted by Constant Contact which analyzed why consumers choose to subscribe to email lists. A whopping 58% of respondents do so in order to receive discounts and special offers. This is no surprise as consumers continue to be price-conscious in a still recovering economy. In fact, according to another study by Yahoo! and Ipsos, 27% of respondents prefer receiving coupons digitally vs. offline from brands they like, and 64% subscribed to at least one email list in order to receive these deals. Clearly engagement via email is largely driven by the desire to save a little cash and be in the know for the next big sale – who doesn’t like a good sale? But does the same hold true in the social space? Do customers only ‘like’ a business page in order to receive discounts?

Not according to recent studies. While the top reason for ‘liking’ a business on Facebook is to receive access to special offers and discounts (41%), studies have also found that 25% of respondents do so in order to show support of a brand they like and 22% said they do so to demonstrate their support and share the good deal on Facebook.  

While customers love getting good deals in the social space, they also ‘like’ brand pages to brag about the awesome deal they received to all their friends or to show some ‘social love’ to the business that gave them the great product or service.  This is especially true when it’s for a high-dollar or luxury purchase. According to a recent consumer insights panel conducted by Empathica, while less than 6% of consumers will brag about the high cost of a recent luxury purchase, over 30% said they DO brag if they get a good deal. In other words, if I score those killer designer shoes for half off – I’m going to share that savvy shopper nugget with my fellow shoe-loving friends on Facebook and will ‘like’ the brand page in hopes of gaining access to additional sales in the future. Basically, old school ‘word of mouth’ marketing coming into play big time via social media.

If your business is looking to revamp your digital marketing strategy, be sure to incorporate a savvy mix of e-mail and social media as part of your plan. If leveraged appropriately, these two channels provide very different and equally valuable user engagement opportunities, which will help maximize customer engagement and ultimately increase the return on your marketing investment.