SAMPS was previously Association of Commercial Professionals for Life Sciences (ACP-LS)

Why Email Marketing Is 40 Times as Effective as Social Media

August 10, 2014

This post by Matt Wilkinson originally appeared in the blog published by Pinnacle Marketing Communications.

Coming back to the office after an extended break usually involves spending at least a few hours sifting through your email inbox, deleting spam and responding to urgent queries. In amongst those emails are no doubt a large number of emails from companies trying to sell you something.

If you've ever wondered why marketers seem intent on filling up your in-box, there is one simple reason—it works!

Research conducted by McKinsey & Co. has shown that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Twitter or Facebook.1 What's more, the research also shows the rate at which emails prompt purchases is around three times that of social media, and the average order value is 17% higher!

Of course, sending spam emails to every email address you know isn't going to win you any favors, and ignoring social media is also not a good idea. But clearly you shouldn't be throwing out the email marketing playbook, either.

Email is still a vital part of any integrated marketing campaign—as long as you ensure the entire journey from email open to eventual purchase is a good one. With more users than ever before conducting an initial email triage step on a mobile device, ensuring that your email sends customers to a landing page that works on both mobile and desktop devices is critical.

The email marketing playbook

Target properly. First things first, your email lists need to be targeted. Just purchasing lists of email addresses is not going to get you great results. You need to invest in building those lists, from tradeshow visitors to website surfers; those lists need to contain the addresses of people that are already a little bit interested in what you do.

If you have an active content marketing program, then they could also just be interested in what you have to say, rather than what you sell.

And you need to segment those lists depending on what people interact with. For a one-product company that is a relatively simple matter, but for a company with multiple products or services, the need for segmentation is clear.

Consider the tipping points. You have to segment within that list. Inbound marketing software such as HubSpot allows you to identify key "tipping points" within the marketing funnel that trigger a move through different content types. In his book, Persuading Scientists, Hamid Ghanadan calls these different types of content leadership, education and persuasion content.2

Education messaging is likely to make up the vast majority of a content marketing program and education/nurture should be the focus of the majority of email campaigns—after all, customers are already aware of the problem if they want your content that discusses it. Only once a specific tipping point has been made should persuasion content be turned to, and very often this will be located on your website.

Throughout the nurture stage, you can learn about your prospects as they learn about you. Which emails they open, what they click on and where they go on your website are all key insights that marketing can provide to a sales team to make their lives easier.

Reap the benefits

As pointed out in the McKinsey report, email remains a potent marketing tool. But a few key considerations have to be applied, the most crucial being that email marketing only works if you can meet the needs of your email lists and produce emails that readers open and engage with.

Of course, marketers should not consider email in place of social media—in fact it should be considered to be one of the many social media channels. Examples of email content being spread virally throughout organizations are not uncommon, although the tracking of such content sharing is more than a little challenging. More "outbound" social media channels do still have their place and are an excellent way of attracting people into the email-marketing funnel.


  1. Aufreiter N, Boudet J, Weng V.  Why Marketers Should Keep Sending You e-mails. McKinsey & Co. January 2014. Available at
  2. Ghanadan, H. Persuading Scientists. Marketing to the World's Most Skeptical Audience. Nashville, TN; Rockbench Publishing: 2012.

Matt Wilkinson

Matt Wilkinson is an account director at Pinnacle Marketing Communications Ltd. He started his professional life as a research chemist before winding his way through science and business journalism. His passion for storytelling ultimately led him to the world of public relations and strategic marketing. He holds a PhD from Bristol University and an MBA from the Cranfield School of Management.

SAMPS, Sales And Marketing Professionals in Scientific research, is the first and only organization dedicated to sales and marketing professionals within the life sciences.

The association’s goal is to serve its members who work in commercial roles for life science products and services companies and associated businesses, globally.
SAMPS was previously named ACP-LS. We feel that SAMPS more clearly describes the membership, and will form a better foundation from which to expand this membership globally. 
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