Direct marketers continue to prefer email for reaching consumers despite several social media alternatives available, according to a study by the Association for National Advertisers (ANA).

The ANA’s “Response Rate Report 2021: Performance and Cost Metrics Across Direct Mediafound that email was the most popular direct medium across business-to-consumer, business-to-business and hybrid campaigns with an average usage of 82 percent among marketers. 

Other direct mediums marketers use include social media (74 percent), paid research (51 percent), digital display (42 percent), direct mail (38 percent) and SMS (18 percent).

Though email has maintained its popularity among direct response media, it saw a 6 percent decline since 2018 as social media use increased by 17 percent, according to the same ANA study conducted three years ago. 

Still, as observed in the most current study, email surpassed all other forms of media in marketers’ plans for the near future as 53 percent reported having strategies to increase its use in 2022. 

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they have plans to use paid search while 50 percent said the same for social media and SMS.

Additionally, letter-size direct mail—the most traditional method studied—actually outperformed all other alternatives for impact with a 112 percent return on investment, followed by SMS (102 percent) and email (93 percent).

ANA’s response rate report findings are based on an online survey it conducted among 581 marketers between February and July of 2021.