Digital Comfort Zones: Consumers Like To Contact Firms By Email, Millennials Prefer Social

Email is the most popular channel for contacting brands. But there’s a generation gap — millennials are more comfortable with social media, according to a study released on Thursday by Visual Objects.

Of 537 consumers polled, 31% are most likely to use email to contact a business. In contrast, 21% choose social media and 19% contact forms on a company’s website.

But the preference for channel depends on the age cohort. Of the millennials surveyed, 26% prefer to contact a firm via social media, versus 20% of GenXers and 11% of baby boomers. 

Overall, only 16% of consumers like to call by phone, and 9% prefer to use a chatbot. As to the reasons why, the study posits that people feel email, social media and websites are “more respectful” than calling.

The study is skewed in that only people who use social media at least once a week were polled. Email might score higher, both as a marketing and response tool, with a more general survey sample. 



That said, the study reveals that 30% of baby boomers are most likely to use a contact form on a website, compared to 20% of GenXers and 15% of millennials. Older generations are less skeptical than millennials about sharing information.

Here the study takes a leap and says that older people are more likely to share because they were used to providing their address for direct mail or catalogs.

That seems a little stereotypical. One could just as well argue that millennials have a deeper understanding of digital marketing and how easily it can step over the privacy line. 

Despite their privacy fears, 90% of millennials are likely to click through to a site via social media, compared to 80% of GenXers and 61% of baby boomers. The reason: Millennials are more comfortable with social media in general.

What makes people click through from social media to a website? For 27%, it’s offers and promotions, and for 25%, images do the trick. The statistics are probably similar for offers delivered by email.

But promotions are less effective with younger generations. Of the millennials, 33% are influenced by images, versus 21% of GenXers and 12% of the boomers. Millennials “tend to seek information visually,” the study explains.

Meanwhile, the study also shows that 81% of all people will visit a business’s website from social media. And 21% will visit a website at least once per day, and 11% multiple times.  

The takeaway from all this? “Social media gets your thought leadership content in front of the right audience and drives them back to the website," states Jeremy Durant, business principal at B2B agency Bop Design.



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