These days, most companies know that they don’t have a choice as to whether or not to open a social media account. The need for a Facebook and Twitter account is almost a given, a necessary part of any digital marketing campaign, a requirement to stay competitive. However, despite the extreme hype of social media over the last five years, recent research demonstrates that email marketing and organic search engine optimization are still the most effective mediums for digital marketing!
In fact, in terms of effectiveness at customer acquisition, organic search and email are far superior to Facebook and Twitter. Over the course of the study, organic search accounted for nearly 16% of customers acquired and email marketing accounted for about 8%. Facebook and Twitter were both far behind and accounted for only a fraction of a percent, each. While both SEO and email marketing have continued to grow since 2009, email has experienced the greatest increase – quadrupling over the past four years.
In addition to the relative effectiveness of each marketing mediums for customer acquisition, this study also analyzed their normalized “Customer Lifetime Value.” CLV refers to the future profit a company expects to earn from a customer throughout the entire duration of their relationship. According to the study, SEO is 54% above average and email marketing is approximately 12% above average. The most shocking discovery is that Facebook is only 1% above average and Twitter was 23% below average. Overall this study indicates that social media efforts are not very profitable.
One possible reason that SEO and email marketing are currently more profitable than social media is that they have been around longer. Marketers have had more than ten years to develop best practices for acquiring customers through search engines and email marketing. In contrast, Twitter and Facebook have only become popular over the last five years. Thus it is likely that, through experimentation and analytics, social media will become more profitable in the foreseeable future. Smart marketers should develop a strategy for both now and the future, incorporating social media marketing as well as SEO and email marketing into their digital campaigns.