Report: Email More Effective Than Social Media at Attracting Customers

New data from McKinsey & Company found that although email use is declining, it is still significantly more effective than other forms of communication for marketers looking to gain new customers.

Marketers shouldn’t be too hasty in shifting budgets away from email—they just need to take a few steps to harness the full power of the inbox.

Don’t underestimate the value of email, especially when it comes to attracting customers and prompting purchases.

That’s because it’s 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined, according to new data released by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The firm attributed that finding to the 91 percent of U.S. consumers who use email daily and a 2013 marketing survey that found email prompted purchases at three times the rate of social media networks.

But the data shouldn’t be taken to mean that social networks and other forms of communication aren’t important, McKinsey marketing experts Nora Aufreiter, Julien Boudet, and Vivian Weng wrote on the company’s website. While it may be more effective at drawing in customers, email use is declining—a 2013 McKinsey survey found email usage between 2008 and 2012 fell 20 percent—with people communicating more over social networks, instant messaging, and mobile messaging apps.

“Investments in these new channels are absolutely necessary for marketers to make increasingly sophisticated use of social networks and other channels to engage with consumers and convert interest to sales,” Aufreiter, Boudet, and Weng wrote. “However, marketers shouldn’t be too hasty in shifting budgets away from email—they just need to take a few steps to harness the full power of the inbox.”

To make the most of email communications, the authors recommended enhancing users’ experience beyond the first click. After opening a link in an email, users should be directed to customized landing pages that are optimized for mobile devices, for example.

Aufreiter, Boudet, and Wend also advised personalizing emails—a trend noted by association marketers in the 2013 Association Marketing Trendswatch [PDF] report.

Seventy-eight percent of the report’s respondents identified micro-targeting and personalizing marketing and communications efforts as important or very important.

“Associations are realizing that taking a targeted and segmented approach to marketing is important in appealing to members and customers,” noted the report, which was released by the ASAE Marketing Section Council.

Other trends cited in the report included capturing members’ attention, identifying new customers and new products and services, engaging in market research, understanding key marketing technology systems, and integrating social media into other marketing efforts.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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