Promotional Channels Research Demonstrates Email Is Still King

envelope-1829490_1920MarketingSherpa, the research institute, conducted a study discovering the preferred promotional channels for customers. This information could be gold-dust to all companies looking to grow and find ways to sell to existing and new customers.

They also conducted a survey to determine how marketers prefer to keep in contact with their contacts and prospects. Using the two surveys together, we can determine whether our strategies are good in practice and what we can do for the future.

Methodology Of The Studies

In both studies, consumers were asked about their preferred way to keep in contact with businesses. The survey was completed by 2,021 consumers that were a nationally representative sample of US consumers.

For marketers, they contacted 455 and asked them how they offer customer engagement.

The Results

There was an interesting mix of results. 60% of respondents stated they would prefer to receive updates via email. Emails were also separated into frequency chosen by the consumer or the brand. Twice as many consumers preferred email frequency of their own choosing.

The second most popular contact channel is direct mail (54%), and only 38% of consumers prefer to regularly visit the brand’s website to find out more information.

Despite brands starting to increase budgets spent on mobile apps and mobile marketing – customers don’t really like these promotional channels. Social media was a much more effective promotional channel with 20% of consumers thinking that was a great promotional channel.

Attending local events was not seen to be an effective solution.

Interestingly, while consumers prefer to set the frequency for emails, marketers don’t. Only 14% of marketing professionals allow consumers to set email frequency. Similarly, while 54% of consumers are happy to receive direct mail, only 19% of marketers consider using it.

The Why Behind The Findings

There are strong reasons why these findings might have occurred.

Firstly, the consumer determining email frequency prevents the brand from taking control. It also means that marketers have to choose between promotions when consumers opt for slower campaigns. The damage from the latter could result in lost sales; but, it would be hard to prove this.

Secondly, while direct mail has some advantages, there are also some disadvantages, including:

  • Poor tracking information.
  • Limited customisation.
  • Higher costs.
  • The perception of the content being ‘junk mail’ – one reason why consumers may prefer direct mail is because they can simply just throw it in the bin without having to look at it, its message or who it’s from. With email, you at least see the subject line and the sender.
  • Low response rate (averaging 1-2%).
  • Longer lead times.
  • Environmental impact – corporate social responsibility is an important consideration.

The Switch Side

Some of the most popular tactics among marketers were not popular with consumers. For instance, social media was very popular with marketers (77%), but only 20% of consumers preferred this communication channel.

Attending local events was the third most popular marketing channel for brands (36%) – however only 9% of consumers felt this was appropriate.

What The Study Concludes

The study concludes that marketers are not engaging with their audiences in effective channels. Marketers should consider how often they are sending emails and perhaps offer customers a chance to receive direct mail.

Limitations Of The Study

The study has limitations, despite its obvious value. Firstly, it speaks about closing a sale rather than how consumers are introduced to brands. This is massively important. We’ve often spoken about the importance of a digital marketing sales path where different channels are created and developed to attract audiences, build trust with them and then sell.

Just by listing those three steps, you should have at least three channels to use. However, the truth is, we recommend at least 5 channels; these include:

  • Social media marketing – For brand and product discovery. Younger generations also use it for coupon codes and promotional details.
  • Blogs – Helps to build trust, improve SEO scores and cement your expertise.
  • SEO – Helps to drive traffic to your website.
  • Email Marketing – Keep in contact with customers and inform them of the latest deals and offers.
  • Phone – To follow-up on leads from email marketing campaigns.

By including these in your marketing mix can help you generate more leads and sales. So, while the research was good, it didn’t offer a great overview of the whole purchasing journey. Instead, other research might be more relevant.

What is your opinion? What marketing channels do you find useful?

Let us know in the comments below.