Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream recently notified their UK subscribers that they are dropping e-mail marketing and focusing on their social networks instead. US subscribers will still get the monthly edition of ChunkMail, Ben & Jerry’s e-newsletter. With over a million Facebook followers and a growing Twitter following, the company appears confident that social media can fill all of their relationship management needs – at least in the UK.
Email marketing can be challenging especially for a company as big as Ben and Jerry’s. If you have a sizable list (over 100K subscribers), you know that email marketing is not as cheap or easy as it used to be. Spam filters, bounce management and security are just a few headaches e-mail marketers face, and on top of that, open and click rates are down.
On the other hand, subscribers who opt into email messages regard the act as a personal commitment and appreciate that the communication is private. When subscribers opt into email messages, they trust the messages from their senders – perhaps more than they do communication from strangers in a social network. Furthermore, your subscribers can read your emailed messages at any time, but it may not be so easy to keep up with messages in a social network.
So, should you follow Ben & Jerry’s lead and cut your investment in email marketing to focus on social media? Not when you can do both. It’s true that your customers are hanging out in social networks and you need to invest in meeting them there, but it’s important to listen to your customers preference; when they get tired of emails, they’ll let you know. An email sent from one person to another is still the most trusted piece of electronic communication – and trust is invaluable to businesses and organizations.