People Need People: Live Communication Tops Email In Survey

Smartphones and social media may dominate our lives. But American consumers crave in-person communication more than anything, according to  a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey for "Axios on HBO.

Of 1,820 U.S. adults polled, 42% hope to deal with a human being. In contrast, only 21% prefer texting, 16% phone calls and 15% email.

Don’t be depressed about email’s showing—in contrast, only 2% like social media. But email’s popularity hits a nadir among millennials, 10% of whom list it as their favorite channel.

Boomers age 65 and older like email a little more—18% list it as first. Still, 45% in that age cohort desire in-person communication—above the average.

Axios concludes, “The rapid rise of social media and smartphones led some experts to worry that digital communication would replace face-to-face interaction, potentially leading to weaker relationships and less productivity. The results of the poll underscore that adults still value the human connection of an in-person conversation over text messages by a 21-point margin.”



Does that mean you should double the size of your call center and scrap written messaging of any sort?

Hardly. But as we enter this festive time of year, remember that emails—whether transactional or promotional—need to be written to a person, not a field in a database.

Email copywriting should be engaging and even a little folksy. As the late direct mail copywriter Bill Jayme observed, good marketing copy rewards readers for their reading time. Try to entertain them, or at least be personal when dealing with transactions.

The one threatening sign in all this is that over half of teenagers rarely if ever put their smartphones down. And only 32% demand in-person interaction, vs. 49% in 2012, according to a separate study by Common Sense Media, Axios reports.

That means this whole study may be moot in a couple of years.


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