LONDON: Email marketing remains by far the preferred brand communication channel for British consumers of all ages, but they have major reservations if emails are too frequent or annoying, recent research has confirmed.

As reported by eMarketer, the findings emerged from an online survey of 1,500 adults from the Direct Marketing Association working in partnership with McDowall, the customer acquisition firm.

Among its other findings, their inaugural Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014 report, which was released at the end of March, established that at least three-quarters of all UK adult internet users prefer to be contacted via email.

This rose to 83% of respondents aged 18 to 24, although this age group differed from older generations by being more open to receiving messages via mobile phones, text and social media.

Almost one-fifth said they were content to be contacted on their mobile compared to 8% of 35- to 44-year-olds and just 3% of those aged 65 and over.

Similarly, 16% of the youngest generation liked text/SMS compared with only 3% of 45- to 54-year-olds while 10% preferred social media, a channel that didn't feature at all for people aged 65+.

While email is undoubtedly the most popular channel for UK consumers, as it was last year, a separate study from Redshift Research for US marketing firm Sailthru showed the dangers facing brands if they don't use email effectively.

Its survey of nearly 800 UK digital shoppers, conducted in March 2014, found 39% would unsubscribe if branded emails were too frequent.

However, 35% also said branded emails were "sometimes helpful" when they informed users about sales and offers, suggesting that brands should ensure their messages are relevant to the recipient and aren't sent too frequently.

Indeed, personalisation was an important sentiment for respondents. Almost two-thirds (64%) welcomed emailed recommendations based on products they had previously shown an interest in.

And emails relating to past purchases were appreciated by 60% while 56% thought branded emails would be more appealing if they focused on special offers based on their interests.

Data sourced from eMarketer, DMA; additional content by Warc staff