NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Americans love to make purchases online, but the technology they use most often isn't Facebook or texting.
No, the primary driver is email, and it beats Facebook and texting purchases combined. So why the reliance on email? it might have something to do with reliability and security, a new study says.
The report comes from ExactTarget, an Indianapolis-based interactive marketing service. ED’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey says that about 66% of Americans who routinely go online have purchased an item either directly through email, or because they found a product or service via email.
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That, ExactTarget says, is about twice the number of shoppers who have purchases, or who have been led to purchase a product or service via Facebook and texting.
The data confirms the suspicion that Americans still don’t quite trust non-email communications channels to buy online.
The market, though, is certainly a substantial one.
According to the systems analysis firm eMarketer, 172.3 million U.S. citizens shopped online in 2010 (meaning they at least browsed for products, compared prices, or made a purchase online.). Those numbers are expected to rise to 200 million by 2015, eMarketer says.
The ExactTarget study points out that online consumers are increasingly proving adept at separating their personal and business email use, with a decided slant for the latter form of online communications. The study says that 77% of surveyed consumers said they preferred to get “marketing messages” by email. Yet only 45% prefer email for what ET calls “personal communications.”
Correspondingly, very few online consumers want to get those marketing messages via social media. The ExactTarget study says that only 5% of consumers surveyed want to hear from retailers via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Some other key takeaways from the ET survey:
- People still love their email. Almost all online consumers (96%) have used email at least weekly.
- People are receptive to email advertisements. The ET report says that 66% of consumers surveyed bought a product or service after an email ad.
- Texting is on the rise. ET reports that 68% of consumers use text messaging at least weekly.
- Of that 68%, only 16% actually made a purchase stemming from a text marketing message.
While 70% of consumes surveyed say they use Facebook regularly, 20% made a purchase after seeing an ad on Facebook. That’s not a bad ratio for a relatively new medium like Facebook.
ExactTarget doesn’t delve too deeply into the reasons why consumers are shying away from Faceboook, Twitter and texting. But study after study says that Americans are still skittish about using new technologies that require their personal financial information – even if that technology is ultra-secure.
For now, that means most Americans will continue using a technology channel they routinely trust – email – when shopping online. Until social media companies can convince shoppers that their data is secure, email should remain atop the consumer online shopping leader board for the foreseeable future.