Email marketing ranks as the top marketing channel consumers respond to, according to a personalization study released Thursday. The study, conducted by email marketing automation service Autopilot, surveyed 1,200 consumers in August 2015 to investigate “consumer preferences when it comes to when, where and how marketers are reaching out,” states Guy Marion, CMO at Autopilot. Over half of respondents (51%) say that they are most likely to engage with a company’s marketing through email, the most preferred marketing channel. An advertisement (25%) and social media (22%) rounded out the top three, but with less than half of the engagement rate as email marketing. An online community or forum ranked last, with just 7% of respondents saying they are likely to respond. 72% of respondents said they are frustrated when they receive generic marketing that is not relevant to their interests or past purchases. When asked what they considered to be the most important aspects of marketing, 65% of respondents said timeliness, 61% said expert knowledge, and 49% said offers personalized to their needs. Autopilot reports that consumers are four times more likely to respond to content that is personalized (75%) versus generic (17%), and that 70% of consumers would be more likely to respond to an email with a visual of the sender. 55% of respondents said they are more likely to read an email regarding a new product or offering when they felt a personal connection to the sender. Marion states that today’s consumer is better educated and more empowered than previous generations and expects a higher level of customer service and personalization in marketing efforts. Email’s high ranking, according to the report, is likely due to the degree of personalization that can be incorporated into email marketing campaigns. Autopilot references statistics from a 2015 VentureBeat Insights report, Marketing Personalization: Maximizing Relevance and Revenue, as evidence that personalization may be key to email becoming the top marketing channel consumers prefer. The VentureBeat report surveyed professional marketers on which digital channels enable them to deliver personalized messages to consumers. Email was the top selection with 80% of respondents. This was almost double the second ranked channel, social media (42%). When asked what they thought of brands incorporating personalization into their marketing, such as past purchases and browsing behavior, consumers identified that they agree with the following top five benefits: 1. I am more likely to respond or buy (51%) 2. I wouldn’t care – as long as the offer is enticing (40%) 3. I would regard them as better, smarter companies (42%) 4. I would believe they deliver superior customer service (37%) 5. I am more likely to refer them to friends or colleagues (28%) Conversely, 22% of respondents said they would be more likely to unsubscribe, while 20% said the company would turn them off. Interestingly, almost half of respondents (42%) answered the survey from a mobile device, further illustrating why marketers should be optimizing their emails with a responsive mobile design.