For businesses and organizations using email marketing to build relationships and stay in touch with their target audience, you already know that email marketing can drive big results.

But you may also be wondering how email stacks up against other marketing outlets.

Lucky for you, a new study this week offers the answers you may be looking for.

Also, if you’ve been looking for new ways to use photos, videos, and other types of visual content on social media, this was a good week for you.

Read about these top stories and more in this week’s marketing news roundup.

1. Email beats search, social as largest driver of conversions for ecommerce

According to new data from Monetate, email continues to be one of the biggest drivers of conversions for businesses with an ecommerce presence.

The study, which analyzed more than 500 million shopping experiences in Q1 2013, found that the conversion rate for email was 3.19 percent, compared to 1.95 percent for search and just .71 percent for social media.

Email and search were also tied as the top referrers of web traffic to ecommerce sites.

Bottom Line: Whether you run an ecommerce business or a brick and mortar store, the fact remains true that email continues to deliver big results for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

While other marketing outlets such as online search and social media should help you attract new customers and build relationships with your target audience, only email lets you connect with your audience in the place they’re going to every single day, their inbox.

It’s no surprise than that of the 57 percent of small businesses that say they are growing their email list “at all times,” 44 percent credit repeat business and 39 percent credit relationship building as the primary reasons for doing so. Check out our latest report on how and why small businesses grow their email list.

2. LinkedIn finally embraces photo sharing

Less than a month after giving users the ability to add visual content to user profiles, LinkedIn announced this week that users will now be able to share photos, videos, and other visual content as part of their LinkedIn updates.

In addition to photos and videos, LinkedIn users will also be able to share documents and presentations with their LinkedIn network.

Bottom Line: The ability to share visual content on LinkedIn is something that users have been waiting on for quite some time. It presents an exciting opportunity for professionals and brands to showcase their experience and build relationships on this social network.

LinkedIn Senior Product Manager Itamar Orgad, offered some great insight about the possibilities this new feature presents:

“Whether it’s a thought-provoking presentation about the future of big data, a picture of an inspirational quote, or perhaps an infographic showing top trends impacting your industry, the possibilities are endless for what you can share on LinkedIn to add a richer and more visual component to your professional discussions.”

3. Latest Twitter app update lets users share photos in less than 6 seconds

Twitter has introduced an update to both its iOS and Android apps making it even easier for users to share photos on this social network. To demonstrate the speedy new update, Twitter used a Vine showing users just how easy sharing photos has become.

The latest update also came with a couple of new features, including the ability to tweet before sending and improved capabilities for users managing multiple Twitter accounts.

Bottom Line: Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, social media companies are making it faster and easier to manage your social presence on the go.

That’s great news for small businesses! In a recent Constant Contact survey, 73 percent of small businesses said they were using mobile technology to help with their social media marketing. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to start.

4. Google introduces brand new Gmail inbox

Google announced this week that Gmail will be getting a brand new inbox on both desktop and mobile, designed to help users stay organized and on top of their email.

This new inbox separates email into five tabs:

  • Primary – Person-to-person conversations and messages that don’t appear in other tabs.
  • Social – Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, and other social websites.
  • Promotions – Deals, offers, and other marketing emails.
  • Updates – Personal, auto-generated updates, including confirmations, receipts, bills, and statements.
  • Forums – Messages from online groups you belong to, discussion boards, etc.

You can pick and choose which tabs you want to use (by default, Primary, Social, and Promotions will be checked) or you can un-check all of the tabs if you aren’t interested and go back to the Gmail inbox that you are used to.

Gmail’s new inbox will be rolling out gradually over the next few weeks.

Bottom Line: This week, Dave Gerhardt, Product Marketing Manager here at Constant Contact took a closer look at what the new Gmail inbox could mean for Constant Contact customers.

There will be more to learn once this rolls out to everyone, but from what we can tell from a few tests so far, it looks like the Constant Contact emails that you are sending to your contacts will show up in the Promotions tab (if they are using the new inbox.)

Overall, we really like this update because it will help Gmail users better manage and organize their email. Instead of having to comb through a cluttered inbox, now you can simply tab back and forth between all of the different types of emails you receive on a daily basis. Today, an offer from your favorite restaurant sits next to your electric bill and an email from your best friend. Gmail’s new inbox will make it much easier for readers to scan and process email, and that’s good news if you’re marketing via email for your small business or nonprofit.

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