Report: Consumers prefer to reach brands via email

Ninety-eight percent of customers have purchased an item as a result of email marketing, a survey says. You might want to start beefing up your email strategy.

Consumers like email, and if you want to connect with them, it better be part of your integrated marketing strategy.

I recently read ExactTarget’s “Marketers are from Mars” report, which surveyed 400 marketers and 1,200 consumers about their preferences when it comes to communicating and/or engaging with brands. The results are interesting.

We marketers like the Internet. We are married to our devices and social networks, and use those channels daily. The problem with marketers, however, is that we need to quit thinking about what we like and do, and focus on what our customers and prospects want and need. It is not about us..

I love email. My family teases me because I constantly lecture them that it’s really important to communicate with people on their channels of choice. That’s even more true today in our fragmented world comprised of more channels than most of us can keep up with.

For instance, when it comes to my grown daughters, I’ve learned that calling on the phone and expecting them to answer is a waste of time. But they will respond if I text them-most of the time.

If you want to reach me, email is my preferred channel. I miss phone calls all the time because my ringer is turned off. I like it that way. I also miss text messages. I’m not really sure why. It just happens. But I check my email about one million times a day, and if you communicate with me by email, I’m more likely to see it than any other communiqué.

Does this sound at all like your life?

We all like different things, and we all like communicating in different methods. So, when it comes to marketing, you have to factor your customers’ preferences into your messaging and sales strategies.

And when it comes to a preferred channel—no matter what anyone may tell you—email rules. That’s certainly what the consumers who participated in this survey indicated. They love email.

Let’s take a look at the channels both the marketers and consumers surveyed said they use. Note that email, texting and Facebook pretty much reign supreme.

Now let’s look at how survey participants said they want to connect with brands.

Email is the channel they use most often to connect with brands or companies they trust. Eighty-five percent of consumers—both those with and without smartphones—ranked email as their go-to channel for connecting and communicating with brands. And 56 percent of those consumers head straight to Facebook.

I’ve written before about the importance of making sure your customer service operations are socialized, and this data proves it.

Ninety-eight percent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of email (56 percent of smartphone owners and 42 percent of non-smartphone users).

If you’re not laser focused on email marketing as part of your integrated marketing strategy, this data might inspire you to rethink that. For our e-commerce clients in particular, email is our most valuable marketing channel, and all our efforts are focused on growing, building, segmenting, personalizing and fine-tuning our customer lists.

Social media continues to be weak when it comes to purchases made as a direct result of social media efforts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate on social media channels. They’re important, especially with regard to delivering great customer service and building brand awareness and trust.

And direct mail? Anyone who scoffs at “old school” direct mail should note that when it comes to driving sales, it’s as effective as email marketing and should also be at the top of your list.

So, that’s the data. If you’re smart, you’ll survey your customers and prospects and see what they want when it comes to marketing to and communicating with them. Then you can tailor your marketing efforts and budget accordingly.

For the purposes of this survey, respondents were pretty clear. They were most interested in brands having great websites, communicating with them via email, and having a presence on Facebook.

And I can’t resist mentioning that most consumers surveyed weren’t at all interested in smartphone apps. It’s something to keep in mind when that comes up in conversations with your marketing team.

What do you think about this data? Does it match up with what your data shows you? I’d love to hear what has worked for you.

If you’d like to read the ExactTarget report in its entirety, access it here.

Shelly Kramer is the CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A version of this article originally appeared on the V3 Integrated Marketing blog. (Image via)

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