Topics: Emerging Media, College of Communication Information and Media

October 23, 2008

Despite the growing popularity of social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, young adults say they pay more attention to marketing messages from e-mail or direct mail, according to new research from Ball State University and ExactTarget.
"Messaging Behaviors, Preferences and Personas ," a white paper prepared by Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD) and Indianapolis-based ExactTarget, an on-demand e-mail and one-to-one marketing company, found that 18- to 34-year-olds claim they are more likely to be influenced to make purchases based on e-mail marketing messages and direct mail than from advertisements or marketing messages on social networks.
"It is too easy to assume that the media consumers choose for their own news, information and entertainment are by default the best media to use for marketing messages," said Mike Bloxham, CMD's director of Insight and Research. "This is a dangerous assumption to make in a time when consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their level of control over their media experiences."
The white paper not only shares the results from this research on consumer behaviors and preferences, but it also provides marketers with insights to consider when structuring a campaign targeting the six different personas identified in the research. These personas include wired consumers, young homemakers, retirees, college students, teens and established professionals.
The study combines CMD's observational data on people's media use and exposure with ExactTarget's data on consumers' attitudes toward marketing messages received through distinct channels. 
Additional findings include: 

  • Twenty percent of wired consumers have subscribed to marketing communications via text messaging, more so than any other group, but they want to receive texts only for urgent customer service issues such as financial alerts or travel updates. 
  • More than 50 percent of young homemakers use social networks and text messaging during the day, but direct mail and e-mail are their two preferred marketing channels.
  • Eighty-one percent of retired consumers have purchased online, and 94 percent have been influenced by some form of direct marketing to make a purchase.
  • College students are very spam-savvy and believe private communication channels such as text messaging and social networks are completely off limits to marketers.
  • Teens use social networking more than any other group but are more likely to make a purchase from direct mail, followed by e-mail, text messaging and social network sites.
  • Women are more likely than the men in the established professionals group to use new digital media channels such as instant messaging (IM), text messaging and social networking to communicate with friends and family, but men and women alike shop online, with 92 percent of the consumers in this group having made an online purchase. 

"Our goal with this white paper is to help marketers develop subscriber profiles and create effective one-to-one communications targeted to each individual subscriber," said Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget's director of research and strategy. "The research findings fall right in line with our 'subscribers rule' philosophy, where we challenge marketers to put customers' needs and wants before their own and let subscribers' preferences and interests rule the one-to-one marketing relationship."