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Social Media Rising In Popularity, But Email Marketing Still Delivers Significantly Greater ROI

SAN DIEGO, CA (BUSINESS WIRE) — Message Systems, the industry leader in messaging technology solutions, today announced the results of their inaugural “Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Survey” at the company's second annual user conference Interact 2012: Engage in San Diego. Email remains the most popular marketing channel, with 97 percent of respondents leveraging it for marketing campaigns, yet social media is rising in popularity, with 70 percent indicating that they market through social networks.

According to the survey, social media and mobile are changing the customer communications landscape, yet email marketing still greatly outperforms social media when it comes to driving sales and delivering return on investment (ROI). Email is the most successful and profitable marketing channel, with 63 percent of respondents reporting that email delivers the greatest ROI compared to only 10 percent for social.

“Despite recent reports that the return on investment with email marketing has been declining over the past few years, our survey found that email is thriving, and driving more revenue and conversions than any other channel,” said George Schlossnagle, CEO of Message Systems. “In fact, nearly 70 percent of our customers reported that their email marketing returns have actually trended upwards in the past five years. Additionally, the survey findings that engagement efforts are often held back by difficulties around data sourcing and technological shortcomings fall completely in line with our market position that a single unified platform for integrating customer data and customer communications makes the most sense for today's customer-centric organizations.”

Other notable findings from Message Systems' Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Survey include:

  • Social marketing is growing, especially for engaging customers. Although most customers prefer to be contacted via email, marketers are increasingly using social media to engage with customers and interact in a two-way dialogue – 64 percent of respondents said they added social media in the past year to obtain greater engagement.
  • Businesses are using SMS text more often for engaging customers versus directly marketing products. Companies plan to invest mainly in social media (44 percent) and email (40 percent), but SMS text came in a solid third (22 percent), to revamp customer engagement strategies in the next year.
  • Marketers see the highest returns on holiday marketing in December and January. As expected, December delivers the highest returns for holiday marketing, with 50 percent reporting their highest ROI in the month. Yet surprisingly, the study revealed that companies see their second highest holiday marketing returns (38 percent) in January – generally considered after the holiday season.

Released during Message Systems' second user conference in San Diego, the “Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Survey” compiled data from more than 100 marketing and email industry professionals from around the world. The survey uncovered several trends at variance with findings from other recent industry reports. For instance, a series of widely quoted Direct Marketing Association reports show that ROI on email marketing has dropped 25 percent since 2006, and is expected to continue declining in the years ahead. Yet, as explained above, 70 percent of respondents to the Message Systems survey report that the ROI on their email has trended upward over the past five years, while only 30 percent reported a downward trend. Additionally, 63 percent named email as the engagement channel through which they realize the highest ROI, far outstripping social and print media, which were named by 19 percent and 9 percent respectively as the best-performing channel for ROI. The survey also found that:

  • Nearly half – 47 percent – of companies responding have adapted social media (listing Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter specifically) as a channel for two-way customer dialogue, trailing only phone and email, and far outpacing SMS text and IM chat, both at 8 percent.
  • Nearly 58 percent of respondents feel that issues around data sourcing and technological shortcomings are currently holding back their email / customer engagement efforts, or have in the past.
  • A majority – 51 percent - of respondents do not yet offer their customers a preference center or have the ability to track customer preferences for how they prefer to receive communication.
  • 72 percent of respondents feel that if they were to consider adding new channels (SMS, IM, Social etc.) to their engagement program that it would be more advantageous to manage those channels on an in-sourced basis.

About Message Systems

Message Systems solutions power many of the world’s largest, most complex email, text and cross-channel messaging operations. Our solutions enable companies to integrate messaging with any number of data sources and applications in order to orchestrate real-time two-way customer interactions through any messaging stream. The result is more effective customer communication that boosts engagement, drives down costs, increases revenue and builds closer relationships. Message Systems is the leading provider of messaging infrastructure to the world’s largest social networks and e-businesses, including Facebook, and many Fortune 500 leaders in banking, consumer technology and telecommunications. Founded in 1997, Message Systems is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and maintains offices around the globe. For more information follow us on Twitter @MessageSystems, go to or:

Leslie Grant
SHIFT Communications
(415) 591-8454