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With the recent broadening of messaging channels (social media, collaboration, text, etc.) it might be easy to believe the oft-made claim that “email is dead,” but a number of marketers said this month that email beats social media when you look at the stats.

While all believe social media has an important role, none think email is losing its place as the cornerstone of emarketing efforts. Message Systems, a provider of messaging technology solutions, conducted a survey during its annual user conference this month and found that 97 percent of respondents leverage email for marketing campaigns. The survey also found social media rising in popularity, with 70 percent of respondents indicating that they market through social networks. But regardless of its popularity, social media is outperformed by email marketing when it comes to driving sales and delivering return on investment (ROI).

“Despite recent reports that the return on investment with email marketing has been declining over the past few years, our survey found that email is thriving, and driving more revenue and conversions than any other channel,” observes George Schlossnagle, CEO of Message Systems. “In fact, nearly 70 percent of our customers reported that their email marketing returns have actually trended upwards in the past five years.”

The findings of Message System’s survey were echoed in Monetate’s E-commerce Quarterly Report published mid-month. This report claims that when it comes to ecommerce, email still rules.

The report authors said, “Although social media is referring traffic to online shopping sites 77 percent more than last year, few users actually buy anything. E-commerce sites may be rushing to fill the Internet with their social banter and engagement, but the real winners are those emails campaigns reminding us of sales, previewing new items, and offering free shipping. At a rate of 4.25 percent, email deals are converting people to sales eight times better than social and four times (4x) that of search.”

Experian CheetahMail published its Q2 email trends report this week also shows email to be a solid marketers channel.

“For Q2 2012, overall email volume increased 10 percent while open rates were slightly above the 2011 Q2 rates, as more than 55 percent of brands had statistically significant increases in open rates for Q2 2012,” summarizes Regina Gray, vice president of strategic services for Experian CheetahMail. “While click rates continued to show a year-over-year decline, there is some evidence that the rates are stabilizing. Email is still the most effective channel to connect with customers as we’ve seen a growing trend of brands utilizing social capabilities to acquire and engage consumers and fans across these new media channels.”

Social clearly does have a place, however. According to the Message System benchmark survey, “Social marketing is growing, especially for engaging customers. Although most customers prefer to be contacted via email, marketers are increasingly using social media to engage with customers and interact in a two-way dialogue—64 percent of respondents said they added social media in the past year to obtain greater engagement.”

Overall, nearly half—47 percent—of all survey respondents disclosed that their companies have adopted social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter specifically) as a channel for two-way customer dialogue, trailing only phone and email.

The email trends discussed by these vendors seem to fly in the face of an earlier study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association that found that email marketing had dropped by 25 percent and was likely to continue to decline.

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