Subscribers, Fans, & Followers

A Research Series from

Are you giving your customers what they want when it comes to email, Facebook, & Twitter? ExactTarget's ground-breaking research series, SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS, will help you use these channels to your advantage - in real time, with real results for your business. Learn how to regain control with each of these exclusive research reports.
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The Audience Growth Survey

Unlike a “list” of subscribers or customers, an engaged and deeply interested digital audience is more than sheer numbers; it’s a long-term resource that you can activate at the touch of a button. Discover how today’s marketers are growing this valuable asset in ExactTarget’s latest SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS report, The Audience Growth Survey.

In The Audience Growth Survey, we asked hundreds of digital marketers which tactics they use to produce new audiences on email, social, and mobile. You’ll discover:

  • The most popular and most frequently rated effective tactics for cross-channel growth
  • Marketers’ top objectives for email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and mobile apps
  • Recommendations and insights on emerging marketing tactics
 

Bonus Materials

Looking for bonus email, Facebook, and Twitter charts for SFF#22: The Audience Growth Survey? You've come to the right place! Here, view the full charts displaying surveyed marketers' most used and most effective tactics for email, Facebook, and Twitter audience growth.

Download Charts

Reports

"Subscribers, Fans, & Followers sets the record straight on the realities of social driven interaction between companies and their customers."

Authors

Jeff Rohrs

Principal, Marketing Research & Education, ExactTarget

Recovering attorney turned professional marketer, Jeff Rohrs, ExactTarget's Vice President of Marketing, began his email marketing career as President of Optiem, a digital marketing agency based in Cleveland, Ohio, and one of ExactTarget's original Reseller Partners. Since joining ExactTarget, Jeff has spearheaded the Reseller Program and guided interactive marketing efforts through websites, blogs, and social networks.

Jeff currently helps direct ExactTarget's Marketing Research & Education team and ponders how the digital marketing evolution will impact companies and consumers alike. He acts as a steward for ExactTarget's thought leadership, speaking at industry events about how the digital marketing world is evolving.


Morgan Stewart

CEO & Founder, Trendline Interactive

Morgan Stewart began his email marketing journey in 1999 when he managed the development of Pampers websites and email marketing programs across the U.S., Western Europe, and South America. Morgan came to ExactTarget in 2004 to launch ExactTarget's strategic consulting group, which he managed for more than 3 years. His true interests lie in demographics and studying how consumers interact with brands.

Considered one of the industry's thought leaders in interactive marketing research, Morgan now serves as the CEO and Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive, an interactive agency aimed at helping marketers successfully communicate across all channels. Morgan is also a regular columnist for Mediapost's Email Insider and frequently appears in industry publications such as BtoB Magazine, DM News, and MarketingSherpa. His work has also been featured in national publications including Fortune, Forbes, and Newsweek.


Kyle Lacy

Senior Manager Content Marketing & Research, ExactTarget

He is the author of three critically acclaimed books, Twitter Marketing for Dummies (2nd ed), Branding Yourself (2nd ed), and Social CRM. Prior to ExactTarget, Kyle co-founded a marketing technology company, helping over 350 clients build and deliver digital marketing experiences. You can follow him on Twitter at @kyleplacy or visit his blog at KyleLacy.com.

"It's important, easy-to-understand,
impactful research."

Research Methodology

The SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS study was inspired by the three simple tenets of ExactTarget's SUBSCRIBERS RULE! philosophy:

In order to live by this philosophy, you have to understand who your customers are, what they're doing, and why they're doing those things. Social media is rapidly changing the ways consumers can engage with brands online. And although a lot of research has been conducted on what consumers are doing with social media, why they're doing those things has largely been a matter of speculation.

The SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS study is an in-depth look at how consumers engage with brands through three of the most talked about online channels - Email, Facebook, and Twitter. The study addresses three core questions related to these channels:

To do this, we start with the premise that consumers should have the first say about which questions are most appropriate on a survey. Our studies consist of two distinct phases - a qualitative study in Phase I followed by a quantitative study in Phase II.

Details for SFF #22: The Audience Growth Survey

The Audience Growth Survey revisits ExactTarget's 2009 Email List Growth Study for an updated benchmark of how organizations are building their direct marketing audiences. This study included two phases: interviews and a nationwide survey with digital marketers.

Phase 1 was comprised of interviews with 17 digital marketers from April through July 2013. The interviews addressed key themes with audience growth strategy and tactics across the channels and platforms regularly used by each marketer, primarily email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and mobile app marketing. Interview transcripts were coded to identify key themes to guide the survey development. Additionally, quotes representative of marketer sentient were selected to be included in the whitepaper.

Using the insights from phase 1, a nationwide survey was developed and fielded between June 20 and August 5, 2013, surveying digital marketers predominantly from the United States. A total of 395 respondents completed the survey, with jurisdiction in the following marketing areas: email (91%), social media (66%), mobile (37%), executive oversight (28%).

Details for SFF #21: The Digital North

Continuing the global wave of SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research, ExactTarget conducted its first benchmark research in Canada. The Digital North serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively in Canada, which parallels the process, methodology and aim of the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Germany, and France SFF research.

The SFF Canada online survey launched in March 2013 in order to benchmark the behaviors and sentiments of online consumers (18+) nationwide. A total of 1,382 respondents completed the survey. Responses were weighted by age and gender, according to the US Census Bureau’s International Database for Canada and Government of Canada Census, in order to reflect the Canadian consumer population accurately.

Details for SFF #20: Marketers From Mars

Marketers From Mars serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted concurrently about consumers and marketers, paralleling the process, methodology, and aim of prior SFF research.

The Personal Internet and Mobile Usage Survey was launched in September 2012 to benchmark online behaviors in consumers and marketers. A total of 1,201 consumers and 411 marketers responded to this survey. Consumer responses were weighted by age and gender based on the 2010 US Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Internet Project's online activity data to reflect the online US consumer population. Marketer responses were not weighted. Of the 411 marketers, 62 respondents were recruited from Twitter via industry leaders, and 349 respondents were recruited from marketing-specific email lists.

Details for SFF #19: The Digital Cafe

The Digital Cafe serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively in France and parallels the process, methodology, and aim of SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research already conducted in the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, and Germany.

The SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS France online survey was conducted in August 2012. Respondents were recruited using Survey Monkey Audience services, formerly MarketTools TrueSample. In total, a stratified sample of 1,548 respondents completed the survey, consisting of no fewer than 200 respondents across six age brackets. Of respondents who passed initial screeners to fill this stratified sample, 91% completed the 40+ question survey. In addition, 29 respondents were screened out because they failed internal validity tests.

Responses were then weighted by age and gender based on the US Census Bureau's International Database for France and by internet usage according to United Nations Economic Commission from Europe (2011) to reflect the online French population and loaded into SPSS for final analysis.

Details for SFF #18: The Digital Republic

Continuing the global wave of SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research, ExactTarget conducted its first benchmark research in Germany. The Digital Republic serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively in Germany and parallels the process, methodology, and aim of the US, UK, Australia, and Brazil SFF research.

The SFF Germany online survey was launched in June 2012 and was intended to benchmark the behaviors and sentiments of online consumers (18+) nationwide. A total of 1,292 respondents completed the survey. Responses were weighted by age and gender based on the US Census Bureau's International Database for Germany and internet usage from Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden (2012) to reflect the online German consumer population accurately.

Details for SFF #17: The Digital Carnival

The Digital Carnival serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively in Brazil and parallels the process, methodology, and aim of the US, UK, and Australia SFF research.

The SFF Brazil online survey was launched in April 2012 and was intended to benchmark online consumers' behaviors and sentiments nationwide. A total of 1,022 respondents completed the survey. Respondents were weighted by age and gender, according to the US Census Bureau's International Database for Brazil and internet usage from Comite Gestor da Internet no Brasil, in order to reflect the online Brazilian consumer population accurately.

Details for SFF #16: Retail Touchpoints Exposed!

Retail Touchpoints Exposed! is the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively on retail stores. Instead of relying on consumer surveys, this report is based on our primary analysis of consumer reengagement practices at the 100 fastest-growing US retailers as listed in the National Retail Federation's STORES 2011 Hot 100 Retailers Report.

Phase I (conducted in March 2012) was an experiential phase where our research team visited the websites and at least one physical store (where applicable) of each of the Hot 100 Retailers in order to document signage and other calls-to-action; interact with in-store sales staff; monitor communications through email, mobile, and social channels; and purchase products to monitor receipts, shipping, and other post-purchase messaging. In total, 95 brick and mortar stores were visited and all 100 websites were included in the research. Only 72 websites, however, were eCommerce-enabled sites.

Phase II (conducted in March and April 2012) tracked the retailer's brand communications and engagement across email, mobile, and social channels for a period of 30 days. The results were compiled and analyzed to provide a portrait of the Hot 100 Retailer's engagement with consumers.

Details for SFF #15: Digital Down Under

Digital Down Under serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively in Australia. Catapulting from the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS international study conducted in the UK (SFF #11 through SFF #13), ExactTarget set out to conduct research with a wider global reach that parallels the process, methodology, and aim of the existing UK and US research.

Details for SFF #14: 2012 Channel Preferences Survey

Data for the 2012 Channel Preferences Survey was collected through MarketTools TrueSample™ panel of consumers. A total of 1,481 respondents completed the survey between January 27, 2012 and February 1, 2012. The sample was stratified by age across seven age groups (15-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+) to have a representative sample across each. Responses were then weighted by age and gender according to US Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Internet Project's online activity data to reflect the online US consumer population. For respondents 15-17 years of age, an invitation was sent to parents with teenage children living in the home asking them to have their teenage children respond.

In order to manage length and accommodate all of the questions included in this survey, two tracks were created. All 1,481 respondents answered questions about overall internet usage, devices owned, personal communication habits, permission, and purchase behavior related to marketing. The margin of error for these questions is +/- 3%. Track 1 (n=690) has a +/- 4% margin of error and addressed the general "acceptability" of different marketing tactics through various channels. Track 2 (n=791) respondents were asked to indicate which channel companies use to send them various types of information. The margin of error for these questions is also =/- 4%. Each of the two tracks addressed different scenarios presented in this paper.

The SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS Australia online survey launched nationwide in March 2012 in order to survey the landscape of consumers' online behaviors and sentiments. A total of 1,229 respondents, age 18 and older, completed the survey. Responses were weighted by age and gender in order to reflect the online Australia consumer population.

Details for SFF #11 through SFF #13: Digital Kingdom, The Social Breakup UK, The Social Profile UK

The Digital Kingdom serves as the first SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS research conducted exclusively in the UK. It parallels the process, methodology and aim of the US SFF research, but with a mind on UK consumers.

Phase I (conducted in August 2011) included 35 individuals across the UK, who participated in three-day moderated online discussion boards segmented into four age groups (15-17, 18-24, 25-35, and 36+). The principle emphasis of the discussion boards was to identify key trends, behaviors and attitudes regarding various aspects of cross-channel marketing interactions, particularly as they relate to email, Facebook and Twitter as three of the most popular communication channels presently. These online discussion boards served to direct the course and content of the nationwide survey by identifying the broad concepts that merit additional exploration. This approach guards our research from relying on any pre-existing biases or assumptions we might have from the US research and culture and as media-savvy marketing professionals. Instead, the focus groups narrowed our attention on the broader consumer experience within the UK specifically.

Phase II consisted of a nationwide online survey conducted in September 2011. The survey addressed key themes heard during the online discussion boards in order to quantify the sentiments expressed. A total of 1,508 respondents completed the survey. Responses were weighted by age and gender according to the UK's Office of National Statistics population estimates and internet users from Q2 2011 in order to reflect the online consumer population.

Details for SFF #9 and #10: Mobile Dependence Day and The Meaning of Like

Phase I (conducted in May 2011) included 45 individuals who participated in a three-day moderated online discussion board regarding various aspects of cross-channel marketing interactions. These sessions built on the focus groups conducted in March 2010 and October 2010. Focus group results gave direction to the nationwide survey by identifying the broad concepts that merit additional exploration. They also helped to eliminate any pre-existing biases or assumptions we might have as media-savvy marketing professionals, and instead focus our attention on the broader consumer experience.

Phase II consisted of an online survey conducted in June 2011. The survey addressed key themes heard during the focus groups in order to drill down and quantify the sentiments expressed. A total of 1,427 respondents completed the survey, including 207 teens (aged 15-17). Responses were weighted by age and gender according to US Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Internet Project's online activity data to reflect the online US consumer population.

Details for SFF #8: The Social Breakup

Phase I was conducted in October 2010 and we included 27 people to participate in two separate 3-day moderated online discussion boards. These sessions built on the focus groups conducted in March 2010 by again asking what motivates consumers to engaging with companies via Email, Facebook, and Twitter, and then focusing on the circumstances surrounding their decision to disengage with brands through each of these three channels. Focus group transcripts were then coded to identify key themes and representative quotes were selected to be included in the whitepaper.

Phase II consisted of a survey fielded from December 17 to January 10, 2011. The survey addressed key themes heard during the focus groups in order to quantify the sentiments expressed therein. Responses from 1,561 U.S. online consumers were collected using MarketTools TrueSample™ online panel. Respondents were 15 and older, and stratified by age. Responses are weighted by age and gender according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Internet Project's online activity data to reflect the online U.S. consumer population.

Details for 2010 Studies SFF #1 through SFF #7 and the 2010 Executive Summary

Phase I was conducted in March 2010, and we invited 44 people to participate in three different types of focus groups - a moderated 3-day online discussion board, 90-minute real-time chat room discussions, and 90-minute video focus groups using webcams. These sessions focused on the motivations consumers have for engaging with companies via Email, Facebook, and Twitter as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Phase II consisted of a survey fielded from April 9, 2010 through April 13, 2010. The survey addressed key themes heard during the focus groups in order to quantify the sentiments expressed therein. The survey was fielded through a MarketTools TrueSample™ online panel and completed by 1,506 U.S. respondents, aged 15 and older, and stratified by age so that each age bracket contained no less than 200 responses. Responses are weighted by age and gender according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Internet Project's online activity data to reflect the online U.S. consumer population.

If you have additional questions about a study's methodology, email research@exacttarget.com.

"It's the best collection of social insights produced to date."
- Jay Baer, Author of YOUTILITY

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