Aside from searching for information, e-mail has long been the most popular activity online. But no more.
According to Nielsen Online, more people in the US and other leading digital countries worldwide are using social networks and blogs than e-mail.
While search and destination sites remain the most popular online activities, social network and blog use exceeded that of e-mail, increasing their reach by 5.4 percentage points.
In addition, time spent on social networks and blogging sites is growing at over three times the rate of overall Internet growth.
Regardless, marketers should use caution before abandoning simpler media such as e-mail or search for social network advertising.
A 2008 study performed by IDC found that 43% of social network users never clicked on ads, and only 11% of those who did actually purchased anything. Compare that to nonusers, 80% of whom clicked on ads at least once per year; 23% of those who did click bought something.
Online retailers surveyed in an Econsultancy and R.O.EYE study found e-mail marketing to be very cost-effective in terms of customer acquisition, with affiliate marketing and paid search not far behind.
There is a lot of untapped potential in the social media space. But in a recession, when expenditures are shrinking, e-mail budgets are relatively safe. Shrewd marketers will not stop doing the things that are proven to make their clients money.
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