If you’re involved in marketing, you’d better be using email to send promotional messages to your customers. It doesn’t matter how old they are, consumers overwhelmingly prefer to receive marketing via email and there’s no close second place channel.
The data come from ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey — the 14th report in the company’s Subscribers, Fans and Followers series.
ExactTarget asked almost 1,500 US online consumers (age 15 and up) about how they prefer to get permission-based marketing messages and a whopping 77 percent said email — a number that dwarfs all other options in the survey. Direct mail was second at nine percent and text messaging was third at five percent.
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Social media barely registered, a sign that even as consumers like and follow brands, that’s not how or where they want to be marketed to. Only four percent of respondents said Facebook is their preferred way to get promotional messages and only one percent said Twitter.
ExactTarget ran a similar survey back in 2008. E-mail was also the preferred channel then, but it’s even more preferred now; the current 77 percent is better than the 72 percent who preferred e-mail in 2008.
The survey also asked more detailed questions about specific types of marketing messages and how consumers like to get them; in each case, e-mail was again the preferred channel:
- Financial alerts: 52 percent prefer to get via e-mail
- Travel alerts: 43 percent prefer e-mail
- General customer service communication: 76 percent prefer e-mail
- Order confirmations/receipts: 77 percent prefer e-mail
- Online ticket delivery: 60 percent prefer e-mail
E-mail doesn’t only beat all comers as the preferred channel for getting marketing messages. According to the ExactTarget survey, it also drives more consumer purchasing than any other channel. Sixty-six percent said they’ve made a purchase based on getting a promotional e-mail, just barely edging out direct mail.
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Despite the overwhelmingly positive attitude toward e-mail marketing in this survey, there are some challenges for e-mail marketers.
For starters, the younger the individual, the less likely s/he is to prefer to get marketing messages via e-mail. Respondents between 15 and 34 years old all preferred e-mail at a lower rate than the overall 77 percent average; this audience was more willing to get marketed to via text message and social media than older consumers, a topic we’ve discussed before.
Secondly — and this is from other research — e-mail deliverability fell for the first time in the second half of 2011. This new report mentions that some marketers are also seeing lower e-mail response rates, but ExactTarget says not a failure of e-mail marketing overall as much as a failure of the specific e-mails that are being sent to consumers.
This Channel Preference Survey is about the 5th or 6th report I’ve seen from the series, and I’d recommend them to any digital marketers. You can download this report for free, but an e-mail address is required.