A UK survey has revealed that e-mail is the most preferred way for consumers to be informed of new products. The survey, conducted in London by smartFOCUS, found that 71% of respondents selected e-mail as their preferred choice for new product offers and notifications, easily outpacing social media (21%), SMS (5%), direct mail (3%) and telemarketing (0%).

When asked about their least preferred way to learn about a new consumer product, more than half of all respondents (55%) cited traditional telemarketing. A further 22% expressed distaste with SMS communication, followed by direct mail (15%), email (5%) and then social media (3%).

The survey also asked whether e-mail had prompted individuals to a buying action, with over two-thirds (69%) revealing that they had been prompted by e-mail to purchase products or services. When asked what type of products they had bought through e-mail campaigns, the most popular response was clothing or accessories (38%), followed by personal electronics (31%) and by deals at restaurants, bars and coffee shops (27%).

Tim Watson, operations director of smartFOCUS, said: “E-mail has developed into a mature, primary source of information for both consumers and marketers. Three quarters of survey respondents said that they received more than 50 e-mails a day; there’s so much communication via e-mail that marketers simply cannot ignore it. If companies want to communicate effectively with customers, they need to do so using the channels that customers use and interact with the most.”

He continued: “Email provides marketers, with the best returns in terms of measurable open, click and conversion, but its reach and importance also goes far beyond sales to deliver invaluable product information and branding awareness. I’ve been able to demonstrate how some seemingly inactive e-mail recipients are still engaging with e-mails even when they are not clicking or opening them. They are often even purchasing via different channels.

“E-mail plays an important role in keeping brands, products and key messages top of mind. It reinforces messaging outside of the inbox, and continues to influence thought and behaviour through other digital channels as well as offline.”

What do you think? Are you more likely to respond to an e-mail, or do you have a zero-tolerant approach to direct marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below.