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Social Media, Email and Search: The "Elite Trio" of Online Marketing?

MarketingSherpa recently published this chart revealing marketers' opinions of where social media fits among what the publication calls the "elite trio" of Internet marketing: social media, search and email. While it's hard to disagree with the 97% of marketers who believe that social media will complement (not "compliment" — a rare MarketingSherpa word usage error!) email and search marketing, the position of the 49% who state that social media will never become as important as the other tactics is more questionable.

The confusion stems from where social media fits in the marketing mix. Except in rare cases like Dell, which uses tools like Twitter for revenue generation, social media is primarily a PR-type activity rather than direct marketing.

The three tools have much different purposes. Specifically:
  • Social media is primarily a tool for exposure and credibility-building. Like traditional PR, it is a "top of funnel" tool. It's as much about reaching influencers as prospects.
  • Search is for lead generation, or more accurately, name generation. It brings "suspects" into your funnel, contact information for people who may or may not eventually become leads and then customers.
  • Email is most effective as a direct response medium for the prospects who have already "raised their hands." They've given you permission to communicate directly with them. Generally, 20% or more of the people on your house list will open your emails, while perhaps 1% of your Twitter following will see any given tweet. This makes email a far less hit-or-miss medium.
The three tools need to be used in tandem in order to make them the "elite trio", each for its own unique strengths. Neglecting any one will reduce the effectiveness of the others. At least that's my take; what do you think?


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