Brands are missing a trick by treating email and social media as separate marketing channels, according to new research.
The study, from email marketing services provider eCircle reveals how consumers use social media and email, as well as looking at how marketers can effectively use these channels.
The findings support the principle that emails forms the backbone of all digital dialogue with consumers.
The report conducted in cooperation with Mediacom Science analysed responses from over 1,000 UK consumers to reveal how consumers interact with brands via email and social media services such as Facebook and Twitter.
Whilst 73% of respondents can be reached through social networks, and 95% check their emails at least once a day, the research implies that very few brands are effectively harnessing the potential of integrating email with social networks.
The results also draw attention to the high overlap between the number of people who can be reached through email newsletters and social media marketing, with 56% of internet users accepting marketing message via both these channels.
Volker Wiewer, CEO of eCircle commented: “The majority of studies on social media have only looked at what consumers use social networks for. In this research we took a different approach; investigating who is using different social networks and what motivates them to publish and share information. Rather than attempting to decide which is the best, most influential or effective marketing channel, marketers need to understand why people are behaving a certain way on social networks and email. This will then allow them to use the most appropriate channel for their campaigns.”
The research also found that 32% of those active on social networks are ‘fans/followers’ of a brand.
The majority of those who are ‘fans/followers’ are motivated by functional reasons (e.g. to gain discount and keep up to date with the latest information).
Of those that were fans and followers of company / brand profiles, just 25% were motivated by the desire to demonstrate and share their attachment to the brand with contacts.
Very few people are using sharing features, which suggests that brands are also failing to effectively optimise tools such as Share With Your Network (SWYN). 33% said they would never share information on principle and a further 32% said they only post their own content on social media.
This may be due to the content, as 35% agreed with the statement that the branded content was not relevant enough.
There is significant variation between the different channels on the amount of sharing to take place. Twitter has the highest rate of sharing of branded messages and content at 18%.
Wiewer added: “When effectively integrated, social media and email can create a potent combination. However our research suggests that brands are yet to truly utilise the power of these channels working together. In this ever changing digital arena there is a plethora of tools available to brands to help them achieve this, such as the recently launched eC-messenger 6.0.”
Respondents also claimed to use different social networks for different functions. Twitter rated highly for news and information, as it can be spread much faster. Facebook is used most intensively with users logging in regularly and being highly active on the network.
Email continues to play an important role for certain online functions that people don’t want to do via social networks.
Almost three quarters of the respondents use email to receive notifications for social networks, and the majority still used email for private communication and online purchases.
When asked what they wanted from brands active in social media channels, consumers voted informative first, fun/entertaining second and exciting ways to interact with the brand third. 43% of respondents in the UK have more than 100 friends or followers. On average each shared message reaches 77 friends and is most effective when it becomes part of users private communications.
The European Social Media and Email Marketing study is a three part study conducted in six countries across Europe. It will comprehensively map the digital dialogue between email and social networks including Facebook and Twitter. Part two surveys digital influencers and is due to be launched early 2011.