Email marketing service provider ExactTarget released the results of a study that looked at the digital channels Americans check when starting an average day. According to the survey, the first thing 58% of the online “consumers” do when “connecting” is checking their email or as ExactTarget puts it: “interacting with companies on email.”

I’m not an American but if I was, I would be in that 58%. Search engines and portals rank second. 20% of Americans start their online day visiting a portal or using a search engine.

The portal seems obvious since many set a portal as the default page in their browser and quite a few people don’t bother changing the default settings of their browser when buying a new computer.

So, what about Facebook? According to the ExactTarget survey, 11% of Americans start their online journey with the social network.

5% really wants an online newspaper and visits a news site first (there is of course a very thin line these days between a news site, a portal and a search engine). Another 5% go to some other destination and finally, the hard workers and true professionals among us, visit the corporate site or intranet first.

Demographic and behavioral findings

That’s for the general average data but, obviously, there are differences according to the age groups. And there are no real surprises there: the younger, the more social. However, this doesn’t always mean fewer email. ExactTarget found that consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most active demographic on Facebook and Twitter, but they are also among the most active on email.

The company further found a “psychological and behavioral difference” regarding, among others, brand interaction, in the segments that start their day using medium A or B.

I quote ExactTarget’s Morgan Stewart: “Consumers who check email first tend to be more task-oriented, subscribe to more emails and interact with brands across email and social media to obtain deals, promotions or new product information.”

Those that start their day on Facebook “tend to draw firmer, more segregated boundaries and become fans of brands for entertainment purposes or to show support for a company or product.”

The usage of email and social media: brand followers and fans

Some more findings on email, Twitter and Facebook:

ExactTarget data email subscribers Facebook fans and Twitter followers
ExactTarget data: email subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers
  • 43% of all online consumers either follow a brand on Twitter or is a fan of one on Facebook.
  • 54% of those between 18 and 24 are fans of a brand on Facebook.
  • 42% use Facebook at least once per day. Of these, 69% are a fan of brand(s)
  • 68% of daily Twitter users follow at least one brand but only 7% of US consumers use Twitter daily
  • 93% of American “consumers” subscribe to email marketing messages.

Since its acquisition of CoTweet in March, ExactTarget obviously focuses more on the integration of social media and email. The survey and report, called “Digital Morning”, clearly emphasizes this.