Thinking Social vs. EmailEmail marketers are used to numbers…lots of numbers. That’s because numbers matter in email. How many people are on your list? What was your email deliverability rate on that last campaign? How many were opened? How many click throughs? How many conversions? Unsubscribes? Forwards? Spam complaints? Numbers are so core to email, there’s even a book called Email Marketing by the Numbers.

Yet some numbers can be misleading. They can make you think maybe email isn’t the place to be any longer, that it’s maybe old school and your marketing money would be better spent elsewhere where there’s buzz, say on social media.

Don’t be misled. Sure, email has been around for a lot longer than social media, but email still reigns supreme in 2013. Email marketing is still the king of ROI. And when you’re looking at the numbers, you want to be sure you keep your eye on that one, because it’s the one that matters most.

Still you must know how to really measure the effectiveness of that email marketing tool. To illustrate our point, here are three examples of email marketing by the numbers. It all depends on how you look at them. The key is to dig deep enough to see the numbers that really matter.

Website traffic vs. website conversions
Email is one of lowest drivers of traffic to B2B websites at .8%. The winners? Organic search is highest at 41% and direct traffic comes in second at 40%. Email is only a tiny fraction of the first two percentage wise.

But—and this is a big but—email has the highest conversion rate at 2.89%. And by highest conversion rate, we mean compared to all other sources of website traffic. That’s even higher than referrals which are the #3 driver of traffic to a B2B website.

If you looked at the first number, .8%, you’d think poorly of email as an online marketing tool. You have to dig deeper to see where it scores sales…more sales than any other driver.

Facebook users vs. email users
Facebook gets a lot of attention due to sheer numbers. After all, when people can say your user base adds up to the third largest population on the planet, that’s saying something! But dig deeper and you’ll find only 66% of online adults use Facebook. Even with the rapidly growing popularity of Pinterest, you’ll find only 12% of online adults there.

Yet 85% of online adults use email. That’s 19% more than use Facebook. How’s that for a number?

Social ROI vs. email ROI
Comparing the number of Facebook users to email users is the perfect segue into our last number: ROI. As sexy as social is, as shiny and glittery and attention getting as sites like Pinterest and YouTube, nothing beats email for ROI.


In 2012, email delivered $39.40 in sales per dollar of advertising, followed by $22.38 by search, $19.71 from Internet display ads, and $12.90 from social networks. That makes email marketing’s ROI almost double that of the #2 (search) and #3 (ads) sources for sales.

Yes, email is all about the numbers, and even when you see small ones, you must dig deeper to find the numbers that matter. Quality counts more than quantity. Because social might be sexy, but email equals sales.

Published On: February 6th, 2013Categories: Email marketing best practicesTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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