Social networking may be growing in popularity – but marketers disregard longer-established sales channels such as email and even the post, at their peril.
That’s the message from a new Econsultancy report, How we Shop in 2010: Habits and Motivations of UK Consumers.
Although social media is currently benefitting from ‘hype,’ says the report, it is far from mature. Some 38% of consumers do not use social networks, while only 6% of consumers have asked for product recommendations in their most recent product search.
In fact, more established methods of communication such as email and postal mail still have the edge.
When the consultancy surveyed more than 1,200 UK consumers it found that 38% said they had made an online purchase as a result of an email, while 27% said an email prompted an offline buy.
And 61% said email notification was their preferred method of receiving advertising material, while 28% specified postal mail. Only 5% favoured social sites.
Econsultancy’s UK research director, Linus Gregoriadis, said: “Despite the rise of social media, the role of the email channel is secure.
“Email is extremely effective as long as companies are targeted and relevant when communicating with consumers. Companies need to use both channels in an appropriate way, and should regard email as ‘social media glue’. It’s not a case of ‘either or’.”
The report also suggests that online product research contributes to a larger percentage of total retail than the 8% directly attributed.
“The evolving nature of digital interaction and customer service is changing the fundamental relationship between companies and consumers,” it said.
“The winners will be those who use digital communications most effectively, to influence and enable both online and offline purchases.”