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Email or Social Media marketing: Where should craft beer bars and stores invest?

Last updated November 30, 2021 · By Dylan Blake

Customer Acquisition Image courtesy of Campaign Monitor.

Social media, in some form or another, is everywhere. Its reach feels all powerful. So if you're going to market in any sort of online way, social media is the only way to go, right?

Wrong. Email continues to be the marketing platform where businesses—regardless of size or industry— get the most bang for their buck.

Read on to see how email marketing outperforms social media marketing across the board—from ROI to new customer acquisition to good ol' trusty logic.

Use BeerMenus to trigger emails and push notifications to locals.

Get in front of beer drinkers when they're deciding where to go.

What experts say

Some have long predicted that email marketing would inevitably become extinct: in this world, where tens of thousands of apps are released each day and grandparents are Facebook power users, email is simply anachronistic. It's been around since the '70s (we thought that was crazy, btw). Nothing that old can be valuable.

Absolutely wrong.


ROI is extremely important for all businesses, but it's magnified for small businesses. We don't have extra money laying around, we didn't just raise an ungodly amount of financing. We can't dilly dally—we need to make sure our money and time is well spent.

In terms of marketing efforts, email is the place to spend it.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, which measures the effectiveness of various marketing methods, the average ROI on email is 122%. How does social media ROI compare? Less than 1/4th that of email: 28%.

Email ROI
Image courtesy of Direct Marketing Association.

Take a closer look at that bar graph: social media is just 1% above Direct Mail. That's "Direct Mail" as in sending letters to folks' houses.

New Customer Acquisition

For small businesses, figuring out a way to reliably bring in new customers is Valhalla: "If I could just increase the number of new customers I'm bringing in, life would be great!"

Rest assured every small business has that same feeling.

Indeed, new customer acquisition is one of the primary reasons you market or advertise in the first place: you want to bring in new customers, and to do that you need to spread the word. Word of mouth can't do it all.

In the customer acquisition department, email marketing blows social media marketing out of the water. According to McKinsey and Campaign Monitor, email is more than 40 times more effective than social media for customer acquisition.

Think about that: 40 times better, not 40 percent better.

Customer Acquisition Image courtesy of Campaign Monitor.

(Of course, one of the biggest problems with email marketing is getting access to the right emails in the first place. Don't sweat it—keep reading and we'll dive into that below.)

So email outperforms social media marketing in terms of ROI. It blows it out of the water in terms of new customer acquisition. How else can it outperform? Answer: logically.

The Logical Approach

Still not convinced, even after the statistics?

Well, there's another way.

Just think about it: at the end of the day, successful marketing comes down to reaching the right people in a compelling way. Email is one thing just about all of us have in common. We all have it, and we all use it for interacting with people and businesses (e.g. bill pay, etc.). Everyone has email, and they use email to get things done.

Now think about your phone: can you even name all the "social" apps you have on your phone right now? How many do you use daily? How many have you used in the last week? How many have you downloaded and then deleted? How many do you use to really get things done?

Now think about your email: when's the last day you didn't check your email? When's the last day you didn't check it on 2 different devices in one day? When's the last time you thought about deleting your email account?

After working through all that, we arrive at the inevitable conclusion: If a business wants to grow, it's borderline insane to not include email in its marketing mix.

Strong statement, BeerMenus. How do you put your money where your mouth is?

That's a great question. The answer is a result of three facts about us:

  • We want to help grow the craft beer community.
  • We know email will help do it.
  • We know it's not easy to just "do email."

That's why we do most of the leg work for you.

Email Marketing Through BeerMenus

Beer lovers follow businesses on BeerMenus. For them its extremely simple: one click and they're enrolled as your followers. From that point forward, every single time you update your menu, you tell your followers about your menu changes.

Think of your followers as your regulars.

Ok, so you've got your regulars covered. What about new customers?

I'm ecstatic you asked! Beer lovers also use BeerMenus to follow individual beers. By doing so, they're told every single time that beer turns up near them, whether they've heard of the place or not.

This means every time you add a beer, you're not only telling your regulars about it—you're telling new customers about it, too.

"Tell" is pretty vague—what's it mean?

You're telling people a few ways, but most important in this context: you're telling them via email.

BeerMenus Email
An example of a BeerMenus "digest" email, one of several ways you reach customers via email.

Overcoming The Challenges

Earlier in the post I hinted at two of the biggest challenges to building a successful email marketing program: getting the right email addresses and building good emails.

There's a reason not everyone is great at email marketing, and the reason is it's just not easy. We know this from our own business-building efforts.

But we do have access to the country's largest community of people trying to buy craft beer, and that means the list-building challenge is solved right off the bat: in the BeerMenus community you've already got yourself a built-in subscriber list. Better yet, it includes both your regulars and new customers.

And perhaps best of all, we take care of the email sending as well. You're not spending your time putting together personalized emails or building templates in Constant Contact: you send marketing emails automatically whenever you update on BeerMenus.

Always Improving

The emails we've created for businesses to send through BeerMenus aren't simply "done."

In one way or another, email notifications have been around since the beginning of BeerMenus, but they've drastically changed since then.

This is because we're constantly testing what works best. Email content, content order, subject lines, time of day sent—you name it, we're testing it now or we've tested it recently.

We do this because we know how game-changing a solid email program can be for a small business. And since we want you—and all of craft beer—to succeed, we strive to make the necessary improvements on our end.

All you have to do is update your menu. That seems fair, right?

Use BeerMenus to trigger emails and push notifications to locals.

Get in front of beer drinkers when they're deciding where to go.

The Takehome, in logical steps

  • If you want to be driving first-time and repeat customers through your doors, you need to be on their minds.
  • Even though there are as many "social" apps as there are stars in the sky, email marketing still gets you the most bang for your buck.
  • “But, still,” you're thinking, “time is money, and I don't have time or the know-how to create an email marketing program and build a subscriber list.”
  • No worries. The BeerMenus community is your built-in subscriber list, and you automatically send your emails as soon as you update your BeerMenus page.
  • Even better, we're constantly tweaking, testing, and improving our email notifications to make sure you're reaching as many of your regulars and new customers as possible.

Use BeerMenus to trigger emails and push notifications to locals.

Get in front of beer drinkers when they're deciding where to go.

Questions? Feedback? Want to know how many notifications you're sending to customers?

Click that little blue square in the lower right-hand corner of your screen to launch a chat!