In an analysis of over 500 million eCommerce shopping transactions during the first quarter of 2013, email marketing stands out as the clear leader in overall conversions. As ranked by source, email leads the way with a 3.19% conversion rate, compared to 1.95% for search and 0.75% for social.

The stats, originating from Monetate’s ECommerce Quartlery, and published recently on Search Engine Watch, make it five consecutive business quarters where email marketing has produced conversion rates of well over 3%, compared to search’s cap of 2.49% in the fourth quarter of 2012, and social’s cap of 0.88% in the same quarter.

Search Engine Watch puts forth a theory, from Mometate’s vice president of marketing, Blair Lyon, that email marketing remains more effective because of its individualized nature. Lyon says, “Email is all about segmentation and personalized messaging. We need to continue to focus on delivering relevant messaging that is appropriate to the individual person, their behavior and time. Matching the email to the context and stage of that customer in their buying process is crucial. It really is all about the right content to the right customer at the right time.”

While email marketing may be sitting pretty on the top of conversion pile, search and social still play very important roles in a well-balanced digital marketing campaign. The study found that “search remains a crucial driver of traffic for ecommerce, generating 31 percent of website traffic versus just 3 percent each from email and social media.”

Additionally, social’s value comes from helping to build awareness and keep relevant. The report’s authors suggest several ways to capitalize on the value of social marketing, including increased incentives for visitors to share your content or offers, and and increased segmentation to target groups with higher conversion potential.

How does email play into your marketing efforts? Share in the comments. check out: 7 email marketing rules you should know

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