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Marketers Are From Mars: Their Digital Behaviors Differ From Consumers'

by Lenna Garibian  |  
January 21, 2013
  |  7,238 views

Marketers are not typical consumers: They're more likely than other online consumers to explore new digital environments, own a smartphone, and use various digital media frequently. Consequently, marketers can lose touch with the people they're trying to reach, according to a study by ExactTarget.

Below, additional findings from ExactTarget's new "Subscribers, Fans, and Followers" study titled "Marketers From Mars," which polled online consumers and marketers about their use of digital media.

Basic Online Behaviors

In its report, ExactTarget defines three segments of digital users in the US:

  1. Subscribers: Online consumers who receive at least one permission-based email a day.
  2. Fans: Online consumers with an active Facebook account who have become a fan (i.e., "liked") at least one company or brand on Facebook.
  3. Followers: Online consumers with an active Twitter profile who "follow" at least one company or brand on Twitter.

Marketers are over-represented in all three digital user segments. However, that finding is most pronounced in the Followers segment, where marketers are overrepresented by a 5:1 ratio:


  • Subscribers: 98% of marketers are email subscribers, compared with 93% of online consumers.
  • Fans: 86% of marketers are Facebook fans, compared with 58% of online consumers.
  • Followers: 61% of marketers are Twitter Followers, compared with 12% of online consumers.

Similarly, 90% of marketers own a smartphone, compared with only 51% of online consumers.

Not surprisingly, those 51% of smartphone-owning consumers tend to behave more like marketers than consumers without smartphones. They are more likely than consumers without smartphones to use technologies such as email, mobile apps, and social media. Also, smartphone-owning consumers tend to share more content and purchase more products online than consumers who don't own smartphones.


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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.

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  • by Kathryn Mon Jan 21, 2013 via web

    I downloaded this whitepaper from ExactTarget last week; it has a cheeky, well-executed design and great info--as verified by this post.

    I'm glad to see some of that info shared here through MarketingProfs for those of us who can't afford the name/email/company info cost... and for the sake of clarification, that isn't sarcasm, I really sympathize with those of us who don't want to give out our info.

    For those of you that are comfy with it, I highly recommend it; ExactTarget has released one of the most attractive whitepapers I've ever seen and its a pleasure to read.

  • by Steve Judge Mon Jan 21, 2013 via web

    This is very interesting, however even more interesting is that the consumers outweigh the marketeers 3 to 1 and that most the marketeers were recruited using digital marketing methods 'from lists'. So perhaps their responses are biased as they are those who would respond to such a survey hoping for insights they can use and this has influenced the findings.

  • by Doug Adamson Wed Jan 23, 2013 via web

    Interesting survey. I have just left a meeting where I was discussing a social media strategy aimed at 65+ age group UK consumers living in remote rural areas. This group will not know an Ap from a pension book, Face Book and Twitter sound like cosmetic brands for teenagers and a smart phone is a telephone that is not bakelite black. Whatever target group you are aiming at the old adage of 'communicating in the language and medium of the listener' holds true. The one section of the population that is growing faster than any other is the 'grey' market. Wake up marketers: this sector is latched on to email, Skype and some to Face Book but they are notoriously private and still prefer (requested) bits of paper through the door. Direct mail is still alive and well if expensive; ignore tried and trusted 'traditional' media channels at your peril. The excitement of new media is not greeted with the same enthusiasm by all your audiences. Well not yet!

  • by Jerry Eisen Thu Jan 24, 2013 via web

    This article is indeed a nice reality check for marketers, but a tad misleading if you don't immediately understand what the data is showing. A reality check for this article would be a graphic showing the total number of people in each group identified: Marketers, Consumers w/Smartphones and Consumers w/o Smartphones. I believe we'll find that the latter two categories dwarf the prior. (Anxiously awaiting one of my clients forwarding this to me asking why we're marketing to marketers!)

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