Search and Email Marketing Generate Leads and Sales; Social Media Not So Much

Search and email marketingMany small businesses face tight marketing budgets and limited personnel to manage marketing activities. If that describes you, then put more of your eggs in two baskets: search and email.

A study from marketing data company Custora (as reported in Wired) found that, of the digital marketing channels most in use today, organic search and email increased the number of new customers acquired more than any other – 16% and 7% respectively.

Despite the hype over social media, Facebook barely broke even in terms of new customer acquisition and Twitter failed to register at all, said the report.

Search and email customer acquisition rates

Another report (PDF), from marketing optimization company Monetate, found that the conversion rate for targeted emails has exceeded search and social media each quarter since Q1 2012. Email achieved a 3% rate, search was at 2%, while social lagged behind at less than 1%.

What contributes to the success of search and email?

Search Success Due to Longevity and Use

Search is a successful marketing channel for two reasons: longevity and the fact that everyone uses it.

Search has been around in one form of another since the early days of the web. (Some of you may remember search engines like WebCrawler, Magellan, Excite, Lycos and Inktomi.)

Not to steal any thunder from Yahoo! (which, technically, in its earliest days, was a web directory, not search engine), thanks to it prominence and use of pay-per-click (PPC), Google put search on the marketing map. It’s had years to turn search into a sales mechanism.

Not only that, but everyone uses search. With daily queries numbering in the billions, Google is the New Yellow Pages for many people.

Email Success Attributed to Targeting

Like search, email has been in existence a long time and nearly everyone uses it. However, according to content marketing company Brafton, email remains a useful channel primarily due to its ability to personalize content.

“[B]rands can now personalize content with new technologies, improving recipients’ overall experiences,” said Brafton. “Audience targeting tools that segment leads into lists based on demographic and psychographic tendencies ensure relevant information finds prospects’ inboxes.”

A blog post from copywriting resource site Copyblogger (registration required) lists 3 other reasons email works:

  • It’s intimate – On social media, we’re in public, social spaces. Using email, we connect one-on-one.
  • It’s universal – While not everyone likes email, everyone uses it. “It’s the easiest way to get a message in front of your audience and be reasonably sure they’ll see it,” said Copyblogger.
  • It converts – Copyblogger asserts that email “destroys” other channels when it comes to conversion.

If you want to achieve success using email, add some degree of personalization and segment lists to reach the most relevant audiences with your content.

4 Elements Every Email Newsletter Should Include

Email marketing provider Vertical Response (VR) examines the anatomy of a good email newsletter and recommends that it contain these 4 elements:

1. Intriguing subject line and header – VR warns marketers not to use generic subject lines such as “This Month’s Newsletter,” but experiment with creative subject lines and then monitor statistics to see which ones achieve the best open rates.

VR also suggests that you treat your “pre-header” – the text following the subject line when an email is previewed –  as a secondary subject line and include even more information about what is contained in the newsletter.

2. Masthead/logo – Have a specific logo for your newsletter. At Bizzuka, we label our monthly email newsletter “eBurst” and created a graphic banner (masthead) to use for branding purposes.

3. Table of contents – Because readers don’t have a lot of time to scroll through your content, it’s a good idea to include a table of contents. This gives them even more insight into what they can expect.

4. Compelling content – Let’s hope that by incorporating the above three items you’re successful in getting list members to open and read the email. But are you providing them with content that’s worth their precious time and attention?

For example, every edition of eBurst includes blog posts we’ve written, company news and events, how-tos/tips/tactics, and a list of new sites that were launched the month prior.

VR suggests the following types of content for consideration:

  • Blog Posts
  • Tips, tactics, how-tos, tutorials
  • Industry news/third party news
  • Events, dates to remember, holidays
  • Interesting facts
  • Reviews
  • Photos
  • Resources
  • Company news – updates, improvements, new products, awards, volunteer projects, etc.
  • Webinars and/or videos
  • Testimonials


While everyone clamors around social media in order to find better ways to make it work for marketing and sales, wisdom dictates that we not abandon the tried-and-true in favor of the newfangled. A well-planned SEO and email marketing strategy can yield results.

The proof is in the numbers. Search and email convert!