We all know that learning about new products is a big part of what we do on the internet everyday. Historically, most of us started this discovery process with those famous six letters that has single handedly replaced the dictionary, encyclopedia, and yellow pages. That’s right Google.
However, it may surprise you that there is a 5 letter word that now beats Google. That 5 letter word is email. That’s right, email holds more sway than Google as well as every other channel in the consumer purchase process from initial product discovery, all the way the post purchase follow-up. Let’s find out why…
Why Google Search is losing to email
Using Google’s search to find products requires consumers to be actively engaged on the hunt for something specific as well as actively typing and refining keywords. This takes relatively more brain power than most of us have to give when we are on the move with our mobile devices.
With so many of us going mobile these days, finding new products on the internet is now more of a “lean back” experience.
That is, passively using touch screen devices that allow you to lean back and browse with a touch of a finger rather than “leaning forward” to type keywords.
As it turns out, reading email is a fantastic “lean back” mobile experience.
Check out the graphs below from a report done by the The Economist titled Mind the marketing gap, Sizing up marketer and consumer perceptions:
Assessing the Data
Although Google is not specifically called out for comparison in this report, you can see from the survey results, email is the #1 consumer preferred channel for 2 out of the 3 purchase processes surveyed and ranks #3 in the third category.
My assessment is that people discover websites and blogs overwhelmingly by using Google, and being that both of these categories loose out to email in 2 of the 3 categories, Google losses as well (feel free to debate me in the comments section below).
As stated in the report from The Economist:
Although marketers are eager to expand social media, blogs and mobile outlets, e-mail holds more sway in the purchasing process.
While executives rank understanding of best practices in e-mail delivery at a relatively high 32%, budgets are still skewed in favour of company websites over e-mail.
Even for those at the lower end of the demographic (age 20-30), e-mail ranked second (19%) behind company websites (48%) as the preferred way to engage with a brand—way ahead of social media sites (5%) and blogs (2%).
The data is pretty clear here. After you eliminate the unwanted spam, sitting back and discovering things from your favorite email newsletter is still quite a fruitful experience for most.
Mobile Saved Email
As a matter of fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, the average email open rate for 2012 was up 2.6 percentage points over 2010, and the CTR was up 1.1 percentage points over the same time period. Those may seem like small percentages, but you have to remember there are over 140 billion emails are sent everyday which makes 2.6% a massive increase in pure numbers.
I attribute this rise in both open and click rates to the rise in the “lean back” mobile experience. Email is a brilliant tool for mobile devices. Essentially, the the rise in mobile saved email.
So there you have it. The grandfather of the internet is again kicking ass and takin’ names. For more interesting data that shows how email is still the #1 channel for generating revenue you may want to check out these other post: