Every so often we wonder if the Internet marketing growth is slowing. We've felt for years that the online marketing space was a great place to be because of the consistent growth - even through the recessions. The strength of our SEO reseller programs reflects this strong demand for services. But over the last few years ALL of the buzz has been about social media. While most of the marketing bloggers I follow concede that SEO, SEM and Email are still the dominant forces in Internet marketing, they tend to cover social media more because it's new and exciting.

So what does the data show us about the relative positions of email, SEO, and social media?

Here is an interesting graph from recent Search, Email and Social Media Research conducted by PEW. They charted the usage of search engines, email, social media and online purchases in a desire to understand the top sources of online activity.

The PEW data show that email and search engines are the dominant forms of online activity for most people. While there has not been much growth in these categories, that may well be because it is so pervasive, it really can't go any higher. In 2011, nearly 93% of Internet users engaged email and search engines regularly. However, these numbers are a bit miss-leading. Even though the percentage of Internet users has stayed consistent for email and search engines, the overall raw number of Internet users has been growing every year.

This next graph shows that the raw number of Internet users has been growing each year. This explains the rising profits of Google's Internet-based advertising platform. It also helps us understand why there is so much interest in SEO and our SEO reseller program. Quite simply put, more and more people are moving into these activities on a yearly basis.

What is interesting to me is that email is still just as strong as search engines. This data makes another strong argument for why email marketing is very important to every business. If you are a reseller, you need to have a white label email marketing product in the mix to make sure your customers are not missing this important marketing channel.

Is social media as strong as everybody says it is?

Last but not least, look at how social media has been gaining traction. This supports all the buzz that it has been getting in the last few years as it went from a very small percentage of early adopter users to being fairly well accepted by Internet users. That being said, the last few years actually show a deceleration of new social media user adoption, as opposed to the dramatic growth we saw in 2007 and 2008. And in 2011, social media brings 30% less usage than email and search engines. So it is clear that social media is another important channel (like email marketing and search engine marketing), it still plays 3rd chair to the big dogs of Internet usage.