Prepare to be confronted! In fact the digital marketing world may claim that we are borderline insane, however the powerful variable which continues to influence the serge of the digital marketing industry into the 21st century is simple – Statistics don’t lie.

We are about to expose the most common sense yet alarming statistics that will prove to business owners worldwide why they must ditch their email marketing and list building efforts, in exchange for a social media strategy that will reduce your online marketing costs and will take your business right to the cutting edge.

This strategy has the potential to even explode your lead generation!

The buzz around social media and the willingness of Facebook to welcome the business world into their community is not news, but let’s take a closer look at why your social media strategy SHOULD replace or at the very least work in conjunction with your email marketing efforts.

The Microscope on Email Marketing

You cannot deny the fact that online businesses have been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in revenue that has been generated and directly attributed to email marketing campaigns across the globe. But it’s time to look at the cold hard statistics which would suggest that these numbers are rapidly declining and identify the obvious reasons why.

According to a recent July 2010 Edition of the Email Marketing Benchmark Report released by marketingSherpa, the average open rate of emails in the USA dropped from 14% in half 2 of 2007 to a humble 11.2% in half 2 of 2009.

The decline in email open rates has been attributed to factors like image blocking, increased use of email handheld devices and list fatigue, but the biggest reason is being grossly neglected. It is what we are calling the era of social advocacy – Social Media.

Like that is not bad enough, let’s delve even deeper into this alarming report and analyse specific email sectors and how they have performed. It would be fair to say that most email marketing efforts are generally motivated primarily by a “Marketing” or sales driven message, and if we where to compare the experience and interaction on face book to a specific email sector then that would be “Entertainment” – correct?

Well get a load of this, 2 of the 4 most under performing sectors in the report was the Entertainment sector at 9.2% and even worse, the Marketing sector at a dismal 7.4% open rate.

Why you ask?

In a nutshell, Social Media. Nobody wants to hear about your independent opinions about your discounted products or latest business moves via email, nor do they want to read an email about the next big concert to hit your town. What they want, is to see your news and interactions on social media platforms which is then backed up by the social advocacy and interaction of their family, friends and face book buddies. This is why email marketing is dead and it’s proof – Let’s move on!

Social Media Statistics

So we discussed earlier in this article about the fact that the social media buzz was not news, and you’re all well aware of it. It may well be the case that you just don’t realise how massive it really is until we stack up the statistics to prove it.

Did you know that Facebook proudly claims to have over 500 million members on board (at the time they last updated their statistics page), they are growing at a rate of over 700,000 members per/day at times. We know the younger generation are on there and that is great news for marketing to future consumers. But even more exciting is the recently released figures which are current as of January 4th 2010 which suggest that the fastest growing demographic of people joining face book right now are those people aged between 35 -55 with an increase of over 625% making the membership tallies go from 7.94 million to over 39.6 million in a single year.

These people are business owners, money earning consumers that are looking for your business offerings now. Combine that with the ability of marketing on one platform which is speaking to current consumers and also the youngsters who will be buying tomorrow.

Now let’s look at the growth rate statistics for businesses using Facebook as a means of communicating with their customers. If you are a business owner and not quite convinced yet, then this should remove any shadow of a doubt. A report summary released by emarketer highlights the percentage of businesses in the USA using face book as a means to engage their customers.

The statistics and forecasts by year are as follows;

2008 – 42% of businesses (statistics)

2009 – 58% of businesses (statistics)

2010 – 73% of businesses (statistics)

2011 – 80% of Businesses (forecast)

2012 – 88% of businesses (forecast)

Can you afford not to be using Facebook and Social Media for your business?

The Comparison in Plain English

So the statistics stack up, and we are confident of the fact that we are delivering a cutting edge proposition to the online business community that offers massive benefits. But let’s go even further, much further. For those of you who are not so web savvy, or for that matter don’t control the marketing or creative side of your business then let’s have a look at an obvious, real life scenario to make a comparison.

Let’s say the bullet points below relate to a building company who is running a promotion for a free holiday giveaway:

Email Marketing Method

You write a structured email, and send it to your database/email list

It may or may not make it past the Junk Folder (chances are – if you are email marketing regularly you may be already going to junk folder & don’t even realise it!)

You make it to their inbox – now competing with possibly many other promotional emails

The statistics prove as outlined above that the chances of them opening the email are declining.

The offer is perceived as too good to be true and they delete the email.

You are only reaching out to those people who currently exist on your list.

Social Media Method

You post an update on your face book fan page notifying your audience of your promotion.

Your advocates (clients, customers, family, friends and beyond) begin to comment on such a wonderful promotion. Saying things such as – “You built me a great home Peter, now your offering a holiday? I’m in” or “My house is 1 week from completion, you have done a great job I hope I win the holiday now”

The promotion get shared amongst friends and goes viral (spreads rapidly online)

Your potential customers have engaged your promotion and the telephone starts to ring!

This is a cold hard comparison of why you need to employee a well structured Social Media Strategy and ditch the email marketing. Email Marketing is widely viewed in the modern era as an independent, biased voice of the business which is quickly approaching the point of being worthless.

The new era of social advocacy via Social Media platforms brings credibility, using word of mouth advertising which is only one click away and can be accessed by a worldwide demographic of people which suggests that if Facebook was a nation it would be the second largest country in the world and growing rapidly.

The Obvious Objection Answered

The theory has always been that the value is in the list (email database). And right now, many of you would be fighting a raging debate in your mind over common sense coupled with statistics and comparing that against putting the lifeline of your online customer engagement in the hands of face book and other social media platforms.

What if Facebook bans me you ask?

Well for some time now, businesses globally have been investing billions of dollars each year on digital marketing, and more recently defying broader declines in traditional marketing expenditure around the world. According to a report released by Forrester Research in the USA, in the upcoming year of 2011 it is forecasted that 48% of total retail sales in the USA will be Web-Influenced (as a result of digital advertising) and that amounts to a mammoth gross earnings of over 1115 billion dollars.

So why is this important you ask? Well consider how these sales in the USA and abroad are being generated, according to netmarketshare as of December 2010 Google held a staggering 84.65% grip hold on the global search market.

But guess what, you have and will always be at the mercy and control of Google and it’s leniency as long as search engines remain the priority way to navigate the world wide web. It’s fair to say that 84.65% of all search marketing expenditure belongs at the mercy of Google.

You have invested in SEO, Pay-Per Click, Digital Strategies and so forth. All in the hope that Google allows you to continue to exist on its platform and helps you see a return on your investment. There are some amazing horror stories of small internet marketers, companies and even large corporations whose entire businesses have been held to ransom by Google and there code of ethics.

The reality is, if you operate your online business in an ethical way and apply a holistic approach to your digital marketing you have nothing more to be concerned about, than what already exists. An infinite amount of global business funds has for many years been at the mercy of online giants such a Google and Facebook.