Email Still Unbeatable for Online Marketing

2012 Channel Survey

Exact Target’s recent 2012 Channel Preference Survey reveals some interesting facts about what actually works in online marketing.

The results are sure to upset the “shiny ball” crowd who love playing with the latest new technology, but the fact is that email is far and away the best online marketing tool you can use.

Nothing else even comes close.

The survey conducted in Jan and Feb this year asked how consumers preferred to get marketing messages and interact with brands.

The results are staggering.


Most Prefer Email

Best Brand Medium

Over 77% said they preferred email as a means of receivng messages from brands; in fact the preference for email has increased 5% since 2008.

The next most preferred medium was direct mail (snail mail) at 9%; Facebook only got 4%.

This has huge implications if you’re conducting online marketing or about to start.

Email should be your main customer communication priority, and only when you have that functioning optimally should you consider the others, starting with snail mail and after that social media. Ouch!

The research backs up similar findings from other companies that have found social media difficult to use to engage consumers to buy.

Leading Retailers Shutdown Facebook Ecommerce

Social Media Marketers: Get Over Yourself!

"Just because consumers embrace a channel for personal communications doesn’t mean

that they want to receive direct marketing messages from your brand via that channel."

Exact Target 2012


This is not to say you shouldn’t be using social media as a communications medium, but it does highlight the dangers of getting carried away with social media marketing.


Effect on Buying Decison

main purchase medium

The survey also asked how many people had actually made a purchase after receiving a promotional message via these channels.

Again email, together with snail mail were miles in front at around 66%. Facebook only managed 20%.

"If you want to drive retention and repeat usage, then there isn’t a better way to do it than email.”

Fred Wilson, Managing Partner Union Square Venture


Where Social Media Falters

The reason consumers won’t fully engage with brands on social media has been covered before by many commentators and can be summed up as like trying to sell insurance at the Sunday session: Nobody’s interested, they are there to socialise with their friends and have a good time. As Exact Target says:

"Consumers don’t truly consider brands to be their friends."


Where Customers Look for Deals

online dealsOne final piece of interesting data was where consumers look for an online deal from companies they know.

Email and company websites were tops, followed distantly by search and then Facebook.

Again, this has huge implications as to where you should focus your marketing efforts.

Your website and email should be your main focus.

There is a wealth of data in the Exact Target report, over 36 pages and well worth a read. You can download the report here...

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