Ben & Jerry’s has raised eyebrows by dumping its email campaign in favour of social media. The brand used to send out monthly newsletters, but recipients apparently told it they would prefer to be contacted via Facebook and Twitter, so it is now sending out only one email communication a year.
It’s part of a trend that Gartner flagged up in February, with research showing that a fifth of organisations will be relying on social media within four years (see our post here).
But is it wise to simply switch from one to the other? E-mail has been a hugely successful marketing channel in the past decade, and it’s hard to feel that it could have suddenly become irrelevant. Surveys have consistently shown that businesses that incorporate email as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy get better responses than those that don’t.
It’s easy to get mesmerised by the exponential growth of Facebook – it seems only like last week that it passed the four million user mark and already it’s up to five million. But these are small numbers compared with email users. In addition, the techniques for targeting and addressing them and measuring the outcomes have been honed over years, and are far more sophisticated than anything that social media can yet provide.
A funky ice-cream brand may have particular reasons for wanting to focus on Facebook and Twitter, and it could well be a viable approach for smaller brands with modest resources. But big brands should keep all their bases covered.