In many ways 2011 was the “year of Groupon.” There was a tremendous amount of buzz around sites offering daily and flash deals, and new sites popped up overnight to compete, with the year culminating in Groupon’s controversial IPO. Blogs like LiveOffGroupon.com even chronicled shoppers living only on daily deals. Suddenly, it seemed that these sites were woven permanently into the fabric of online shopping and perhaps on the road to retailers preferring to use them over direct mail and even email.

Given the interest around daily deals, in our recent 2011 Holiday Online Shopping Survey one question we set out to answer was: are daily deals really worth the hype?

The short answer? “Not quite.”

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When shoppers were asked to choose which channels were most useful for receiving coupons and promotions, shoppers ranked traditional channels like email, direct mail and search over daily deal sites (shown). Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter ranked even further down shoppers’ lists. In fact, 23 percent reported using a daily deal site to do their holiday shopping, and only one in four shoppers used social media channels to find product promotions and discounts. On the flip side, a whopping 95 percent of shoppers ranked email as a channel most useful for receiving product promotions and discounts.

The bottom line: Coupons and promotions delivered via email, direct mail and search remained most useful for holiday shoppers, despite high expectations for daily deal sites and social networks.

Interested in learning more? Be sure to read our study for additional findings on daily deals and numerous other topics related to the online shopping experience over the recent holiday.