LONDON: Marketers' enthusiasm for social media and mobile channels is not necessarily shared by consumers who continue to prefer email for product research and post-purchase follow-up, new research has said.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) surveyed 409 consumers and 257 marketing executives in the UK and US about the effectiveness of different marketing channels and found that 37% of consumers preferred email as their initial introduction to a product, with printed catalogues (35%) and personal referrals (33%) close behind.

This compared to 21% choosing company social media or blogs, 18% third-party social media or blogs and just 3% mobile devices.

When it came to post-purchase follow-up, consumer preferences were even more emphatic. Fully 52% chose email, ahead of the 25% who opted for referral by a trusted website, and 21% personal referrals.

Company social media or blogs were favoured by 20%, third-party social media or blogs by 16% and mobile devices by 6%.

Consumers also indicated that they welcomed e-mail offers that had been customised with recommendations based on previous purchases. The survey recorded a net preference score of 28% on this aspect of personalised communications.

They were, however, less keen on communications with content that had been individualized for them personally, a net preference score of 10%, and customised web pages were even less popular, scoring 6%.

The majority of marketers surveyed by the EIU continued to stress simple personalisation, while 63% of consumers said that such an approach was now so common they no longer noticed it. Worse, 33% cited superficial personalisation as one of their top annoyances.

Some 45% of marketers said that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to more and better customisation was their inability to interpret Big Data. Over one third saw this skill as being vital to marketers in the future.

Data sourced from EIU; additional content by Warc staff