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Email may be seen as old-fashioned, but it still performs better than many other forms of marketing. A study by Bisnode for the Syndicat National de la Communication Directe (SNCD) found that web users in France consistently rated email higher than corporate websites, printed material or other channels as a means of getting commercial messages.
Nearly half (46%) of respondents polled in June and July 2013 said email was their preferred channel for receiving marketing communications from brands. About one-third (32%) favored the brand’s corporate site. Just 5% said that they preferred to hear from firms via social networks, and mobile apps ranked even lower, with 2%.
Consumers rated the internet the most influential channel when it came to prompting purchases, too. But researchers also reported a growing tendency for shoppers in France to visit a store after receiving an email. While 43% of web users had made a purchase online following a mail, nearly 20% bought goods in a store. SNCD and Bisnode concluded that overall, email had prompted half of internet users to make a purchase, either online, in a store or by mail order.
These results chime with Generix data, also from June 2013. Its study found that 41% of web users had several times made a digital purchase as a result of an email ad, and another 19% had done so once. No other type of communication—such as an online review, direct mailing, TV or radio ad, or an ad on a social network—equaled the performance of email in this respect.
SNCD and Bisnode noted other key trends that reinforced the efficacy of email. One was the fact that email addresses remain the primary digital identifier for addressing most web users. Some 63% of web users said they had one principal email address at least five years old.
Second, email is following consumers onto mobile platforms; more and more email is being read on smartphones and tablets. According to SNCD, the proportion of web users reading mail on tablets had doubled since 2012, to 22%, and the percentage of smartphone owners reading email on their phones rose by 6 percentage points, to 38%. eMarketer estimates that 46% of the entire population of France will use a smartphone in 2014—around 30.5 million people. As mobile device penetration keeps climbing, tens of millions of consumers will be picking up email wherever they are. Moreover, savvy marketers will increasingly incorporate direct response mechanisms that allow mobile users to act on those messages.
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