British retailers are being urged to consider the radical effect that data-driven marketing channels, such as social media and email, could have on their online promotional activity.

Optimus Performance Marketing recently polled 1,128 online shoppers in the UK to uncover what they believed to be the most effective forms of advertising for brands selling products and services over the web.

Also taking into account feedback from 206 UK-based bloggers, the affiliate marketing agency’s top five channels were dominated by performance-related concepts, with social media (33%) and email (21%) leading the pack.

The research also paints a bright picture for affiliate marketing, which placed fourth with 16% of the vote but its links to brands with a high level of trust led to considerable praise throughout.

Affiliate slips under the radar

With social and email placing first and second respectively, ahead of affiliate marketing in fourth, the remaining spots were taken up by paid search in third (16%) and display in fifth (6%).

A final space was reserved for ‘other’ marketing channels, which earned just 6% of the vote.

The study then went on to assess the trust instilled in Optimus’s area of specialism, affiliate marketing, by asking respondents to grade the reliability of 50 well-known brands.

Despite the group being unaware of which brand had invested in which marketing channel, retailers that had invested in affiliate marketing were given an average score of 7.7/10 while those who had no connection to publishers were handed a much lower score of 5.7/10.

Mark Russell, CEO and founder of Optimus Performance Marketing, claimed the fact that affiliate marketing ranked below certain channels in terms of effectiveness hints that people aren’t fully aware of when they are taking in this type of advertising.

“It is initially apparent that much of the general public are not aware of the impact affiliate marketing will have on the reputation and perceived trustworthiness of a company,” said Russell.

“However, our results seem to highlight that, subconsciously, consumers are more instinctively drawn to companies that do invest in affiliate activity, perhaps due to how regularly exposed they are to a particular brand or retailer on their favourite blogs and websites.”