Marketers, We Have a Problem

Reflecting on day 1 of Media Post’s Email Insider Summit in Park City, Utah I am left with the summary thought: marketers still have a lot of work to do. We all know relevance works, but very few marketers collect all of the customer preferences they should, or act on the knowledge when they have it.

Eric Kirby from Merkle kicked off the day with some of the results on their consumer preferences survey that they have been conducting for a number of years running. It echoes and confirms much of the research from our 2008 and 2009 Channel Preference Surveys. Consumers are becoming more mobile and more social (we all know that) but their preferences are not necessarily what you’d think. Specifically, most marketers are too quick to jump to conclusions and assume that the rising preference for text and social for messaging means the same for commercial communications. It doesn’t. Overall, per Merkle’s study, 87% prefer to “hear from companies” via email.

We included direct mail in ExactTarget’s 2009 Channel Preference Survey as a survey option, and added the qualifier of “permission-based communication” since that is so critical to consumer acceptance. 75% still prefer email, which is up from 72% in 2008, and direct mail is a distant second at 17%, down 8% from 2008. Text messaging and social networks are still only preferred for promotions by 4% and 1% respectively.

Email as a preference for permission-based marketing communications is still growing. Go figure.

Per Forrester’s Q4 2008 Global Data Privacy and Online Preference Survey, only 33% of marketers actually capture their customers’ preferred channel for message delivery. That’s the problem marketers. You have to collect preferences if you truly want to send more relevant communications. Let’s all do better in 2010.

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