A new study from ExactTarget suggests that almost half (46%) of UK-based online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message.

This makes it four times more effective than Facebook (which 10% of people quote as a driver) and text messaging (12%), showing that despite the buzz around social media as a marketing channel brands shouldn’t neglect more ‘traditional’ forms of communication.

The Social Profile UK report, which is based on 1,404 consumer interviews and surveys, also looked at which channels would make consumers more likely to purchase in the future.

For this question, Twitter achieved the highest score with 32% of respondents stating that they would be more likely to buy from a company after following them on the social network.

This compares to 24% who would be more likely to buy after ‘liking’ a brand on Facebook, and 21% who said signing up to email marketing would make them more likely to buy.

ExactTarget suggests that the discrepancy between what people have said influenced them to buy in the past, and what would do in the future, could be because 39% say the reason they sign up to receive emails from a company is because they already shop with that company on a regular basis.

Therefore consumers may see email as a convenient way to stay informed of new products and information.

While they may make purchases that are prompted by email, the perception is not necessarily that email makes them MORE likely to purchase.”

The Econsultancy/Adestra Email Census 2012 also highlights email as an important sales channel, with 55% of the marketers that responded attributing more than 10% of total sales to the email marketing channel.

The census also found that many companies are failing to integrate email data into other areas of their business.

Only a fifth of companies (19%) said email activity was ‘well integrated’ with their CRM/customer data, with 23% saying there was no integration at all.