Social media has played a significant role in the marketing efforts of many B2C companies for the past several years. In the August 2016 edition of The CMO Survey, B2C respondents said they were spending about 15.3% of their total marketing budget on social media, and they expect the percentage to grow to about 28% in the next five years.
But The CMO Survey also revealed that most marketing leaders don’t have a great deal of confidence in the effectiveness of their social media marketing. Only 4.6% of survey respondents (B2C and B2B) reported that their social media efforts contributed very highly to company performance.
A recent report by Bluecore and NAPCO Research provides additional insights regarding the impact of social media marketing and the continuing importance of email in the B2C marketing mix. This report was based on an online survey of 1,174 consumers that was conducted in July 2016. As a prerequisite to participating in the survey, consumers must have made an online purchase within the previous three months.
In this research, Bluecore and NAPCO segmented survey responses by age using four generational cohorts:
- Baby Boomers (born 1945 – 1965)
- Generation X (born 1965 – 1980)
- Millennials (born 1980 – 1995)
- Generation Z (born 1995 – 2015)
When survey participants were asked how they would prefer to receive communications from brands, over two-thirds (68%) of respondents chose email. The preference for email was consistent across all four generational cohorts:
- Baby Boomers (73% prefer email)
- Generation X (71%)
- Millennials (62%)
- Generation Z (65%)
Overall, 36% of respondents said they don’t turn to any social media channels to learn about new products from brands. Not surprisingly, older consumers make less of social channels, with 59% of Baby Boomers and 43% of Generation X saying that they don’t check any social channels to learn about new products.
The results of this survey suggest that the preference for email is strongly related to personalization. When survey participants were asked which communication channel feels the most personal, 68% of the respondents chose email.
The Bluecore/NAPCO survey also reveals that consumers are now largely using smartphones to read personal emails. When survey participants were asked what device they primarily use to check their personal email, more than half (53%) of the respondents said their smartphones. The use of smartphones for email is highest among younger consumers – 59% for Millennials and 67% for Generation Z.
This research makes two important points. First, email is still a critical marketing channel for B2C enterprises. And second, companies should design their email marketing messages based on the assumption that they are most likely to be consumed using a mobile device.