Agitator aficionado Bob Roth alerted us to a piece in e-Marketer reporting on the just-released “2008 Channel Preference Survey” from email marketing firm ExactTarget.Bottom Line: The preferred personal comunications channels — phone, email, text and instant messaging — are not necessarily the preferred channels for marketing. On a scale of 1 to 5, respondents gave direct mail an average score of 3.9, followed by e-mail at 3.7. All other channels averaged under 3. More than 75% of the 1550+ folks surveyed reported making a purchase in response to direct mail. And nearly two-thirds said they had made a purchase because of a marketing message received through an e-mail.Take a look at the Age and Channel breakdown on this chart prepared by e-Marketer: Take a moment to download and study the ExactTarget Channel Preference Survey. Among the points I found worth noting:

  • New marketing channels are being layered on pre-existing ones instead of replacing them.
  • Overall, direct mail has the highest acceptability score of all channels. E-mail received the highest score across digital channels compared to SMS and instant messaging.
  • BUT…there is a quite different attitude between direct mail and e-mail when it comes to unsolicited promotions. Send an unsolicited promotion through direct mail and consumers do not mind. Send the same message through e-mail and it’s SPAM.
  • Be careful about invading personal space. The survey found that the closer you get to the individual, the more likely consumers are to sense that their personal space is being violated. Direct mail and e-mail can feel anonymous if the consumer chooses. However… as Morgan Stewart, Exact Target’s Director of Research and Strategy notes: “phones, text messaging, and social networking sites feel more personal. Let’s face it, regardless of the ‘relationship’ a consumer has with a company, interaction through these channels can feel creepy, pushy, and just generally uncomfortable.”

Finally, if you really dig into this survey you’ll get some fabulous tips on what channels are best for what types of communications and why here at The Agitator we keep harping ad naseum about the importance and benefit of multi-channel integration.RogerP.S. The results of this channel preference survey agree with our just-out-of-the-field DonorTrends Survey of Online and Offline Donors. Our analysts and editors are now at work preparing twelve specialty survey reports dealing with everything from generational and channel differences in giving, to a report on the top-ranked nonprofits in each major fundraising sector from animal rights to human rights, and a range of other findings and actionable recommendations. Stay tuned for release dates.

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