Disconnected imageLike a tortoise forever competing against sexier competitors, email marketing remains a workhorse for brands and organizations looking to get their message out cost-effectively and with an eye on generating fairly decent returns.

Indeed, email is the top brand marketer medium for communicating with consumers at a nearly universal 90 percent, according to the results from a pair of consumer and marketer online surveys conducted by MarketingSherpa in preparation for MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, which takes place Feb. 22-24, 2016, in Las Vegas.

The consumer survey generated 2,021 adult respondents and the brand marketer survey attracted 455 marketer respondents.

The results of the surveys suggest that brand and PR managers need to listen to their customers are lot more closely when it comes to distributing and consuming email messages.

For instance, while more than three quarters of brand marketers (76 percent) said they sent subscribers emails at a pre-determined frequency chosen by the brand while just a quarter (24 percent) of consumers said they desire to receive emails at a pre-determined frequency chosen by brands.

What is more, nearly half of consumers (49 percent) prefer to subscribe to emails at the frequency they choose, while only 14 percent of brand marketers report that they actually send out email updates based on their subscribers' preferences.

They don’t call them “customer surveys” for nothing. Against the backdrop of the MarketingSherpa surveys, PR and marketing pros have to engage their customers and prospects more effectively and determine what makes them tick with regard to email campaigns (rather than have a pre-ordained system).

Take traditional postal mail; 54 percent indicate they want to receive physical mail updates and promotions from companies they are interested in. Yet, only 19 percent of brands provide print updates in the mail, likely due to their cost.

Another stark example of the disparity between marketers and consumers was highlighted by the 74 percent of consumers who say free shipping is their top choice for how retailers could improve their shopping experience; marketers (18 percent) selected free shipping as their ninth choice.

More disparity between marketers and consumers: 74 percent of consumers who said free shipping is their top choice for how retailers could improve their shopping experience; marketers (18 percent) selected free shipping as their ninth choice.

With apologies to Wile E, Coyote, it looks like marketers need to go back to the drawing board to create email campaigns that are more in tune with what their customers and prospects want from the channel.