Were he alive today, Mark Twain would probably have a soft spot for email because, much like the author himself, recent reports of email’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, email is not only alive—it’s the number one direct channel in terms of daily use and consumer preference for both personal and marketing communications. Email is thriving thanks in large part to the channel’s familiarity, flexibility, and universality. A whole new generation of mobile smartphone and tablet users are also driving anywhere, anytime email usage. Indeed, when you dig into the data, any assertion that email is “dying” with consumers is laughable.
Dying, absolutely not.
There is, however, one place where email channel preference has declined significantly. As the documents, consumers’ preference for email as a personal communications channel has dropped 21% since 2008 while their preference for text messaging and social media have grown 20% and 10%, respectively. Overall, email still tops both text and social as the preferred channel for personal communications—45% for email to text’s 36% and social’s 13%—but email’s decline points to the fact that personal communications are shifting toward text and social networks—especially for frequent, short-burst communications.
This shift would be worrisome to marketers were it not for the fact that consumers’ preference to receive permission-based marketing through email has actually increased 5% since 2008. A staggering 77% of consumers told us that they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. This dwarfs both text messaging (5%) and social channels (6%) while further highlighting how email has become the principal channel that consumers use to manage interactions with brands.
In fact, email is the top channel in terms of acceptability across all types of marketing message we asked about in the survey. From travel alerts and purchase receipts to promotional messages and polls, email is viewed as the most appropriate direct channel for brands to communicate with consumers. Looking across all messaging communications studied, we find 94% of consumers prefer at least one form of marketing communication come through email. The only exception is unsolicited, commercial messages that come from an unknown sender (i.e., SPAM). In short, if you’re looking for a solid foundation for your direct marketing communications look no further than email—because it’s where the vast majority of consumers are willing to engage brands.