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Nearly six in ten online consumers (58%) say they start their day by checking email, whereas 20% head straight to search engine sites and 11% check in with Facebook, according to a study by ExactTarget.

Email-first and Facebook-first consumers together constitute over two-thirds of all online adults, but each group comprises a distinct type of customer, ExactTarget found:

Email-First Consumers...

  • Tend to be task-oriented, subscribing to more email and interacting with brands across email and social media channels to find deals, promotions, and new product information
  • Tend to check their email more often throughout the course of the day

Facebook-First Consumers...

  • Tend to become fans of brands for entertainment purposes, or to show support for brands, but not to obtain deals
  • 84% use email on a daily basis—and cite promotions as their top motivation for subscribing to brand emails
  • Are more likely to share information they find online than their email-first counterparts, and are nearly as likely to share that information via Facebook (40%) as they are via email (43%)

Below, other findings from ExactTarget's Digital Morning study.

Email has become the default way consumers grant companies permission to market to them.  Among online consumers—those who receive at least one permission-based email a day—93% say they subscribe to email marketing messages.


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Facebook and Twitter Use

Some 38% of online consumers say they are Facebook Fans—those with a Facebook account who have become a fan of (i.e., "liked") at least one company or brand on Facebook. Over four in ten online consumers (42%) say they use Facebook at least once a day; among them, 69% are a fan of one or more companies.

Just 5% of US online consumers are Twitter followers—those with a Twitter account who follow a least one company or brand on Twitter. Some 7% of online consumers say they use Twitter at least once a day; among them, 68% follow at least one brand.

Consumers tend to engage with more brands on Twitter than Facebook: Company brands account for one out of every six accounts followed on Twitter, compared with 1 out of 16 on Facebook.

Digital Consumers by Age

Online consumers age 18-24 are the most active on Facebook (54% of them use it) and Twitter (9% do), followed by those age 25-35: 47% use Facebook and 8% use Twitter.

Consumers age 55-64 are as active on email (96%) as those age 45-54 and those age 25-34.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,506 consumers age 15+, April 9-13, 2010, and consumer interviews among 44 people in March 2010, conducted by ExactTarget. 

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