Instagram vs email marketing – which one should you use for better results?

Photo of author

( — April 4, 2018) — Decades ago, people used to scour the Classifieds pages of newspapers to find out about products they wanted, or they used to flip through magazines to see glossy full-page advertisements containing attractive pictures and riveting texts sometimes to choose a product they never knew they needed. But the times, they have changed. Most people today spend very little time reading newspapers or magazines. They are either poring over their laptops or peering into their smartphones. That is why print media advertising began losing out to internet-based advertising since about a decade or so back. Businesses came up with well-made websites which used to not only inform a visitor about their products and services but also used to advertise upcoming products or new variants of existing products. After websites, the next big idea was email marketing. This involved getting hold of thousands of email addresses as well as mass mailing company information or advertising to those email ids. This ballooned to great success because many people used to respond to the emails enthusiastically addressed to them as well as generated new business for the businesses. It spawned a whole new industry of trading in email addresses, where huge amounts of money used to change hands for a set of thousands of real email ids. But the initial success of email marketing soon wore thin, and these are the reason why:

  • Overkill: Initially, an email in our inbox asking us whether we needed a quick solution to our hair fall used to interest us, and we would enthusiastically open the email and follow its trail to the wonder product advertised inside. But too much of a good thing can be bad, and when every day brought in emails promising rock-bottom interest rates on loans, incredible money-making schemes, magic pills to help reduce fat drastically. And so many other incredible solutions, most of which turned out to be tall claims, the faith of people on email advertising fell sharply.
  • One Size Fits All: Instead of an efficient shotgun which seeks its target after careful aim, email marketing went about its business like a machine gun firing bullets in all directions with the hope that at least a few would find their target. Imagine the irony of a bald man getting an email for a new hair styling gel, or an elderly matron in a school receiving an email promising heavy discounts on Viagra! The lack of intelligent segmenting of the target made many email marketing campaigns toothless before they even began.
  • Static: An email marketing campaign is somewhat similar to the newspaper ads I spoke about at the beginning. It is a one-way communication to the reader, with no conversation happening around it. The reader would have to take the sender’s word for it, with no way of checking those claims with another user.

Email marketers face this problem in recent years has coincided with another game-changing development – the explosion of social media. People of all socioeconomic and demographic segments spend a great part of their day on some of the other social media, with or without the use of smartphones. One of these is Instagram. It is a social media app which allows users to share their pictures and videos. They can use hashtags for their posts, and they can like some post or even comment on it. Instagram has now become a weapon of choice for many brands in their battle for market share. Let us examine Instagram in the context of the above issues with Email Marketing, to understand why Instagram has become the smarter marketer’s choice:

Overkill: People get such a variety of posts on Instagram that the risk of too much information overload is not there. A business which can design its messaging smartly on Instagram can hold user attention easily for extended periods.

Customization: Instagram allows brands to target the followers for Instagram by their demographic and socioeconomic profile and send targeted feeds accordingly. Each user would be likely to get on their Instagram feed what the brand wants him to see, rather than a one-size-fits-all communication.

Dynamic: Instagram is an excellent way for a brand to generate conversations and discussions about its products and services. This gives happy customers a chance to generate goodwill, while the unhappy customers can help the brand get quick, candid and usable feedback which they can act upon immediately.