Email Drives More Traffic To Retailer Websites Than Social Media

Email offers retailers better results

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Traditional marketing provides a better return on investment (ROI) for retailers than social media, according to a new report from ForeSee Results.

 Do you find email to be more effective than social media? Let us know in the comments.

The report found that social media interactions are a main influence for only 5 percent of visitors to retail websites.

The research found that more traditional marketing tactics like promotional emails (19%), search engine results (8%), and Internet advertising (7%), influence more visits to retail websites.


Other highlights from the report include:

*Traditional marketing techniques like promotional emails influence not only more traffic; they deliver better-quality traffic. Some of the most satisfied site visitors arrived at the site because of previous familiarity with a brand, promotional emails, word-of-mouth, and product review websites.

*Most people want to engage with retailers, but but prefer to do so via email or on retail websites, rather than on social sites.  In fact, only 8% of online shoppers said that’s social media was their preferred way to interact with a retailer.

*People are more satisfied with retailers’ presence on Facebook than they are with Facebook itself.


“Every retailer should know how many customers are influenced by promotional emails, advertising on Facebook or word-of-mouth recommendations, and furthermore, they should know which group is most likely to buy,” said Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForeSee Results and author of today’s report.

“They should also know how people want to hear from them and how well they’re doing when it comes to communicating through those channels.  Serious thought needs to be given to finding out whether social media is worth the investment for their business, and then if the answer is yes, they need to make the most of it by making sure that interactions on social media meet the needs and expectations of customers.”

Do you use email marketing and social media? Let us know in the comments.



Email Drives More Traffic To Retailer Websites Than Social Media
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  • http://www.halsteadstewart.com Patrick Luczak

    Excellent article with very specific information and compelling justification. This is a contrarian position that makes sense. Many are complaining that social media marketing isn’t working for them.

  • Gadeyne

    Without knowing the methodology of the survey, numbers can be interpreted in anyway the company sees fit or wants to promote.

    The results, as presented, only allow for an insight as to what kind of communication consumers like and want from brands and service providers. And even these results do not allow for real conclusions since different demographics will have different preferences

    Using the study as it stands to conclude that social media is or is not a good investment, is or is not worth the investment, will or will not deliver ROI is at best charlatanism and runs afoul of a number of other studies.

    Who is right, who is wrong, hard to tell, brands and companies should conduct their own studies to learn about their own constituencies patterns. What is true for one company is probably not for another. The demographics have a lot to do with communication and relationship building patterns and as a result ROI

  • Mike Sachoff

    As Mr. Freed says in the article “Every retailer should know how many customers are influenced by promotional emails, advertising on Facebook or word-of-mouth recommendations.”

    “Serious thought needs to be given to finding out whether social media is worth the investment for their business, and then if the answer is yes, they need to make the most of it by making sure that interactions on social media meet the needs and expectations of customers.

  • http://www.dydacomp.com Molly G

    This article offers very interesting statistics. Recently we have been hearing a lot about to rise in Social Media marketing and some have shied away from email marketing because they find it less affective. However, as you can tell by this article it is important for businesses to have integrated multichannel marketing strategy to be most effective. I know here at Dydacomp, we continuously remind our clients (who are retailers) to effectively use personalized email marketing campaigns in combination with an effective social media campaign to interact successfully with customers. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.kevinmullett.com Kevin Mullett

    I respect that this appears to be all about traffic, but I feel that trivializes, social media potential for ROI impact. I also tend to agree with Gadeyne, regarding the absence of survey methodologies and demographics. Traffic isn’t the sole measurement for ROI from social media participation.

    I have been both a measured supporter and harsh critique of social media mainly due to misuse and misinformation about its overall impact on a complete marketing solution. Social media, social networking, and social marketing are part of an over all strategy mix, not a singular solution.

    This article seems to discard other benefits of social participation for many business types:

    • visibility/brand recognition/buzz
    • SERP visibility for Facebook/Bing partnership and Google Real-time
    • backlink generation/authority building/citations
    • enhanced customer service/listening/sentiment detection
    • online and/or brand reputation management
    • inexpensive promotion/press release/notification of offers
    • encourage new page or site indexing by search engines via presenting links where they already frequently crawl
    • and of course various amounts of traffic

    It is common for us to see people discover a site via social channels and then sign up for contact via email. This is especially true for new websites/businesses. Oddly enough this study itself highlights that no marketing media is 100% effective, viewed, or preferred.

  • http://www.sharondavis.co.za Shaz

    Social media is getting bad wrap for ROI because so many people hop on and start using it without creating a strategic plan. You can’t expect to use social media effectively if you don’t have a plan.

    As to the survey results, well… it depends who you speak to. People who use Facebook on the odd occasion won’t want businesses to muscle in on their personal space. Avid Twitter users, however, expect businesses to have a social media presence…

    It also depends how you define social media. Blogs and YouTube are very effective communication channels.

  • http://www.themchorsegroup.com/ Enid McHorse

    Both stratagies have advantages but why limit yourself to just one? I use Facebook, Twitter and email marketing with different promotions for each medium for some of my clients websites. Seperately each has its own advantage but used together you have a much wider exposure and a chance to bring in more visitors and convert them into buyers.

  • http://www.feelfree.co Guest

    This article is just right, I think the fact that the reason why am reading this article is because I got a mail form webpronews justifies this article.


    • http://www.kevinmullett.com Kevin Mullett

      Well then by that reasoning the fact that I seen it via a link from someone I follow on twitter should counter act your view and mine and now we are back to even.

      The point many here are trying to explain is that in business you don’t discredit a marketing method on the basis something else provides more (insert desired goal) unless you literally have to chose only one due to available resources. i.e. either time or money.

      If that were the case businesses would also be ignoring the mobile market as it is still a relatively small percentage of traffic for most business types by percentage. However, in the same way social media may represent marginal traffic for some businesses, 13% mobile traffic could represent thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors to your website. Email and social media can be part of an effective marketing mix to contribute to website traffic.

      • http://www.onewebpage.co.za Tony

        I don’t know how the above stats are calculated,
        but the mere fact that people on email outnumber the
        people who use Social Media by a factor of say more than 20 or 30 (guess)
        means that it’s just a matter of time before the Social Media will have the
        greatest INFLUENCE on buying decisions.
        Who do we trust, real people giving free honest feedback on Certain products
        or some unsolicited spam email.
        If you are referring to email campaigns where the addressees where in fact
        opted-in, then you need to find out where/how that came to being. Most likely
        they are there due to a serious networking campaign with RL people or SM contacts
        or web captured contacts.
        Statistics: always try to remember what you Aren’t measuring.

        Thanks for good debate

  • Laura

    Wait, let me check my inbox. Email spam increased 300% since you article. Thank you Mike THANK YOU!!

    • http://america-people-search.com/ America People Search

      Hahaha are you serious? LOL

  • http://edfromohio.com Ed From Ohio

    I think social media can be used to add value with free information and training. In turn, if done right, that can inspire people to opt-in to that email list and build that customer relationship.

    As with anything else though, it all comes down to adding value instead of sales pitch after sales pitch. The saying goes, “Nobody who bought a drill ever wanted a drill. They wanted a hole.” Show them the right techniques and tools to get them what they want and they will buy from you. So offer free valuable info and use it to get them onto the email list that proves so effective.

    • http://www.entrewebneur.com Harold Tamayo

      Dear Ed,

      Your comment is excelent.


  • Guest

    It is difficult to drive a hard line saying one is better than the other. In some instances yes, in other instances no.

    Anyone who claims that email is dead or social media is the only way, is not “diverse”, for a lack of a better explanation.

  • http://www.sporthitech.com Andy M

    Our web sites show statistics that reflect exactly this; our conversions do not originate from Social Media, despite huge investment in presence and tight focus – in fact our numbers are around 1 to 1.5% of traffic.

    Similarly SM advertising is almost totally ineffective however you look at it, resulting in virtually zero business.

    And yes, our business squarely fits the definition of a segment that should work with SM, and yes, we do know what we’re doing.

    EVen before seeing this article, I had severe doubts about this particular bubble. I’m sure social media is useful for it’s designated purpose, but it isn’t commercial.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/OneFineArt William MATAR

    For my sites, I get flood of traffic from Google Search, second position comes from paid campaign in Adwords. Third position comes from mailing lists and paid banners I had in third-party sites and the last one from facebook (even I have a serious page in FB but without serious and significant traffic).

  • http://www.gablepr.com Tom Gable

    This points out the reality of social media: it’s a hot topic and a big deal among the digerati, but hasn’t taken off with the masses. In addition, positive PR, media coverage and promotional mentions in blogs can drive new customers to websites faster and with more impact that most other tools.

  • http://www.bluedial.com/ Amit K

    We are seeing the same stats, about 5% traffic from Social media with very low conversion.

  • http://www.zygella.com ZYgella

    Direct Email is the most effective way of getting new customers. Google and Yahoo are the two best sources of generating traffic to my website.

  • http://www.jeffreyrasley.com Jeff Rasley

    I don’t do retail per se, but solicit donations for a philanthropy NGO. Social media campaigns have been unsuccessful, but the goasl for 3 email fund raising campaigns were each reached.

  • http://www.fixpcfreeze.com Mathews

    Brand name is understood. But if email is the best method to promote a product then why is ppc and seo so popular and why are people spending millions on them rather than email?

    If you try to put a squeeze page then google adwords account gets closed today or tomorrow.

    Send more emails and the host closes your email account.

    Someone feels your email is spam even though they have subscribed to it, you are fighting the legal hassle.

    Buying email addresses is illegal. Using them is out of question.

    Then how do people use email as a promotion method beats me.
    I know I sound stupid.

  • http://www.ezhangdoor.com EZHangDoor

    Social media can be very time consuming for smaller businesses. Is the effort worth it??

  • Guest

    It’s about time that someone actually has the courage and clarity to write an article countering the currently near-ubiquitous position that social media is holy, unassailable, and always results in a positive ROI. I cannot tell you how sick I am of this incessant hollow praise for social media.

    We have run various internal experiments, and we have found social media to be a massive waste of time for a business in our industry (jewelry).

    Sure, for SOME businesses, social media makes sense — I can see it being a terrific investment of time for restaurants, barber shops, or law firms, but for the average retailer, I just don’t see there being an ROI anywhere close to worthy of pursuing. One rarely to never sees this caveat, but it is critically important to say that SOCIAL MEDIA DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK!

  • http://www.findmybusiness.co.nz Marketing Services

    Good article. Although I agree with some comments that the article doesn’t explain the methodology or group size and composition, as a marketer focusing on local businesses, I completely agree. The only companies to significantly benefit from their social media are those with an affluent 18 to 30ish target market. Other than that, for most local business marketing, traditional methods still rock.

  • http://america-people-search.com/ America People Search

    Wow this a good news for email marketer :)

  • http://www.findlocalusa.com FindLocalUSA

    People in a mood to buy don’t and won’t use a social network for it. Our experience with clients shows us that Social engagement is best for small businesses who want to update users through a fan page. Big brands also engage through a commercial reminding process, or some promotion or give-away. Great for brand building and engagement but not for commercial activity.

  • http://michaelirvine.com/automotivefineart/index.htm Linda & Michael Irvine

    I’m not sure that 1-2% difference in traffic from email vs social media advertising makes that much of a difference for smaller companies like ours. Print media (magazine) still takes up the largest part of our advertising/marketing budget. I didn’t see that listed in the Preferred Communication chart. I’d be interested to see what those numbers are like. Or, do they fall into the “Other” category? (I hope not – we actually see the biggest return from print advertising). Thanks for the article, it definitely gives one food for thought.

  • http://www.MoveInSpecials.com MoveInSpecials.com

    We think you should seriously consider replacing your source, we mean NOBODY likes spam. That is a fact, prove it? Ok just look at MySpace and the disaster that struck them when they allowed spam emails and Retailers to dominate their personal pages. Why do you think Facebook is still number 1- simply because they allow the users to select their interests and not have advertisement shoved down their throats.

    Granted Internet advertising is the main street for Retail Companies, maybe we as retailers should spend more time considering the public

  • john

    social media is the product of media hype. it is not what people say it is, and far from it.

  • http://www.totallybored.org/ Stone

    I have to agree. Email marketing is a much better way of driving traffic to your website than social media.

  • http://www.agenciamonterrico.com Nanas

    Spammers better you do it old way, email spam , than social media etc ?

  • http://www.greyolltwit.co.uk/ Grey Olltwit

    From my experience of social media, folks want to do just that, i.e. socialise. They are not interested in someone pushing their spammy products or services onto them. The whole idea that social media can reap rewards has, imho, been created by SEO types to generate another stream of income for them as they can advise a whole new strategy for their clients.

    Of course these SEO types are quick to point out that you are not building relationships correctly with your ‘friends’ if it doesn’t produce any ROI. But how can they be ‘friends’ when they are just being used in this way. I know I’d feel pretty cheated if someone wanted to be my friend and then a few months down the line tried to sell me some crap and reveal the true reason they befriended me in the past.

  • http://priorityresults.com Brian Haugen

    Just thought I would mention.

    On the other side of the coin, does anyone here think the comparison is a little unfair? Social is much more about increasing brand affinity than direct marketing. Different goals, different results.

    • http://www.tahoewindchimes.com Albert Beadle

      I find that with my customer base the need to delve lope some one on one capability is invaluable. Email marketing certainly spreads the word on sales, coupons, shows we’re doing etc. to existing customers, and web placement gets new customers to know your website quickly, but social medial helps you gain insight on your customer or potential customer, and allows you to go into their lives and lock them so that they by from YOU, not just on price, or market reputation.

  • http://paramaya.net/ Laura Sultan

    Hearing email marketing and SEO referred to as “traditional marketing” makes me feel old. Are radio and newspaper ads considered “prehistoric marketing”?

  • http://www.wordpressthemes-guide.com Lansky

    Maybe email is more effective is because it is more targetted when already a result of filtering or if it came from a list due to listbuilding.

    While social media is a vast ocean of people who sometimes are not really interested in the products you offer but are just there to view post of friends and families in their network.

  • http://www.ibuywesell.com Bob

    Great insight Mike thanks, I think you touch upon some very interesting and valid points.
    According to my experience working with both B2B as well as B2C marketing, there is no silver bullet, however, I do believe more is more, the more you do to get the exposure via all the various mediums regardless if its traditional or non traditional the better your chances to reach certain segments of audiences.

    Build a brand is a costly exercise social media has definitely helped level the playing field amongst all players.

    Once you have a well established brand then all types of marketing will suffice.

    Anyway, I tend to agree with Gadeyne in his comment, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here.

  • http://www.onfirstpage.com Guest

    Email marketing is good for people who have opted in to receive promotional emails from a particular company. They have already indicated they want to receive marketing emails. But to send spam marketing emails is not good. That would explain the higher numbers. As for social media, that is great for drawing attention to a company or its products. I can understand why someone would not want to communicate business on a platform such as Social Media for all the world to see. Business is too private of a matter for most people. SEO, SEM and all the other above types of marketing are needed to effectively drive traffic to a retail website.

  • http://hghhormonegrowthnews.com Michael

    What is really a factor in email marketing , is how targetted the list is. Who the sender is ? If buyers have had a pleasant experience from a seller they are more likely to open his email.
    Social media advertising can be very powerful and targetted.
    So I think the answer remains relative.

  • http://www.adovationz.co.nz.catalogww.htm Digmen1

    I would not believe the survey figures

    Tv only 11% – common on.

  • http://www.brancosolutions.com.au Rodrigo Branco Matsumoto

    Against facts you can not argue. Good article but one thing that we have to put in evidence is the misusing of emails. It is really good use it to promote services and products, but never without client permission. SPAM, I am out!

  • http://www.businessdevelopmentpro.com business development

    A lot of buzz but lack of monetization strategies in ecommerce nowadays…

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