The research team at ExactTarget embarked on a mission to discover how consumers' used different technology, channels, and media when it came to their purchase behavior. In order to better understand how channel preference translates into action (buying), we asked our survey respondents from our 2012 Channel Preference Report to identify the channels where marketing messages had actually inspired them to purchase. While email and direct mail topped the charts, we saw telephone, Facebook, text messaging, mobile apps, and Twitter register significant purchase influence even though they may not be the preferred marketing channels of our respondents.
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So what does this mean? There are three points to remember from the research.
- While consumers may have a preferred channel for marketing communications, they tend to use more than one. Therefore, brands who receive permission to message consumers through multiple direct channels may dramatically increase their sales potential. At the very least, such cross-channel visibility certainly stands to increase brand recognition and campaign awareness.
- Channels where consumers are most strict with marketers is also where they are apt to be the most responsive. Consider SMS marketing (text messaging). The SMS channel has two gatekeepers—the provider and the consumer. Spammers are shut down quickly at the provider level. And consumers tend to use the channel most often for short burst communications with friends and family. When they do subscribe to a company’s SMS messaging, it signals a high degree of trust and interest. As a result, consumers may not broadly indicate a preference to receive marketing messages via SMS—but they are more inclined to act upon the messages from those companies they do let into this inner circle.
- Marketing messages don’t just come from marketers. The holy grail of marketing these days is to “go viral.” The rising purchase influence of Facebook and Twitter likely includes the influence of such viral messaging, as well as some influence from the “Sponsored Stories” distributed through users’ feeds. It bears watching whether the increased push to monetize users’ “organic” message feeds with paid marketing messages will boost the purchase influence of Facebook and Twitter—or cause consumers to further restrict interaction with marketers on these services.
Our research into marketing-inspired purchase behavior illustrates that we live in a multi-channel world where brands that can execute campaigns across both mass and direct media will have a distinct advantage over their less coordinated competition. Today’s consumers are cross-channel communicators, and they’re ready to reward those brands that abide by the unique rules that govern each channel.
Read more from our 2012 Channel Preference Survey by clicking here.