Email: What Your Customers Want
Posted by Shelly Kramer
on January 30, 2013

Consumers like email. And if you want to connect with them, email had best be part of your integrated marketing strategy. I was reading ExactTarget’s Marketers Are From Mars Report, which surveyed 400 marketers and 1200 consumers about their preferences when it comes to communicating and/or engaging with brands. The results are interesting.

We marketers like the Interwebs. We are married to our devices and social networks and use those channels on pretty much a daily basis. The problem with marketers, however, is that we need to quit thinking about what we like and do and need and focus on what our customers and prospects want and need. It is so not about us, and the quicker we realize that, the better we can deliver for our clients and the products and services they sell.

I love email. My family teases me because I’m constantly lecturing them that it’s really important to communicate with people in their channel of choice. And 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 and expecting them to answer the phone is a waste of time, but that if I text them, they’ll respond. Mostly.

My husband’s a phone guy and if I want him, the best way to reach him is always by phone. And voicemail? I’m so over it. I’ve given up leaving voice messages almost anywhere because I’m a believer that few people listen to them—myself included.

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

Sound at all like your life? We all like different things and we all like being communicated with in different methods. So when it comes to marketing, you’ve got to factor the preferences of your prospects and customers into your messaging and sales strategies.

And when it comes to a preferred channel, no matter what anyone may tell you, email rules. And that’s certainly what the consumers who participated in this survey indicated. They love email. Let’s take a look at the channels that both the marketers and consumers surveyed said they use—which really isn’t surprising. Note that email, texting and Facebook pretty much reign supreme.

Now let’s look at where the survey participants said they wanted to connect with brands. Email is the channel that they use most often to connect with brands or companies they trust. 85% of consumers—both those with smartphones and those without–ranked email as their go-to channel for connecting with and communicating with brands. And 56% of those consumers head straight to Facebook. We’ve written before about the importance of making sure your customer service operations are socialized, and this data very much bears that out.

When it comes to marketing messages received through various channels and customers making a purchase as a result of one of those messages, only 98% of consumers have made a purchase as a result of email (56% of smartphone owners and 42% of non smartphone users). I’m thinking that if you’re not laser focused on your email marketing efforts as part of your integrated marketing strategies, this data might inspire you to rethink that. I can promise you that for our ecommerce 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 continues to be weak when it comes to purchases made as a direct result of social, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate in social media channels—we think they’re very important, especially with regard to delivering great customer service and building brand awareness and trust. And direct mail? Anyone scoffing at “old school” direct mail should note that when it comes to effectiveness in driving sales, from a consumer standpoint it’s as effective as email marketing and should also be at the top of your list.

So that’s the data. And if you’re smart, you’ll survey your own customers and prospects and see what they tell you they want when it comes to marketing to and communicating with them. And then you can tailor your marketing efforts and your marketing spend accordingly. For purposes of this survey, respondents were pretty clear. They were most interested in brands having a great website, communicating with them via email and having a presence on Facebook. Oh, and I can’t resist mentioning that most consumers surveyed weren’t at all interested in that smartphone app. Something to keep in mind when that comes up in conversations with your marketing team.

What do you think about this data? Does it bear up with what your data shows you? Do you focus a lot on email as part of your integrated marketing efforts? Do you survey your customers to ask them what they want or do you just guess based on your personal preferences? I’d love to hear about what’s worked for you.

And if you’d like to read the ExactTarget report in its entirety (and you should!), you can access it here. For the record, we’re not a client of ExactTarget nor are we compensated in any way for talking about their products and services.

Lead image: idogcow via Compfight cc; charts via ExactTarget

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