The Parallels of Email and Social Media Marketing

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 27 Mar, 2012

What do customers that subscribe to a business's email list and like a brand on Facebook have in common? A lot - according to a new study from Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey.

The parallels between email and social media marketing are strong because both are types of permission marketing according to general manager of social media from Constant Contact Mark Schmulen.

"Whether someone 'Likes' your page or 'Opts-in' to your newsletter, they are effectively giving you permission to communicate; one happens to be in the newsfeed and the other, in the inbox," says Schmulen. "This study reveals the similarities behind 'liking' and subscribing as well as 'unliking' and unsubscribing. The main reasons people unlike or unsubscribe have to do with relevancy and frequency. Content isn't king. Relevant content is king."


Most consumers are opting-in to email lists or liking a business on Facebook because of sales and promotions. According to the study, 58 percent of consumers subscribe to emails in order to receive discounts and special offers, while 39 percent subscribe to take part in a specific promotion and 37 percent subscribe because they are a customer of the business. Very similar reasons were found as to why consumers like a brand on Facebook - with 41 percent liking a brand in order to receive discounts and special offers, 28 percent wanting to take part in a specific promotion and 27 percent liking a brand because they are a customer of the business.


The parallels between the two marketing strategies were also similar when the surveyed consumers were asked the top reasons for why they unsubscribe to an email list and unlike a business on Facebook. According to the study, 69 percent of consumers unsubscribe to an email list because they are receiving too many emails from the business, and 56 percent unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant.  Additionally, the top two reasons as to why consumers unlike a brand page on Facebook is because 42 percent claim the brand's information is no longer relevant, while another 42 percent claim that there are too many notifications from the specific organization.

Local Businesses

The study also found a bright spot for small and local businesses, revealing that about a quarter of consumers prefer to subscribe or like local businesses over national businesses. The study shows that 25 percent of consumers are likely to subscribe to a local business email list compared to 17 percent being likely to subscribe to a national brands email list, while 28 percent are likely to like a local business on Facebook compared to only 11 percent being likely to like a national brand on Facebook.

"Effective marketing is about earning your audience's permission and delivering relevant and actionable content without being overly intrusive," says Schmulen. "This data shows the importance of not just producing great, engaging content, but following best practices and finding the right balance between over-doing it and not communicating enough."