The swathe of new data-driven marketing channels – from digital outdoor and addressable TV to video and podcasts – might have marketers frothing at the mouth but it is the humble email that still get consumers’ stamp of approval, being twice as popular as any other channel across a raft of activities.
According to the latest DMA Consumer Email Tracker 2020 Report, backed by Brighton-based Pure360, email remains the most popular channel across a range of areas, including “discounts, offers or sales”, “order confirmations and updates”, “customer service” and “receipts”.
Nearly half (46%) of the 2,000 consumers surveyed for the report said they preferred to receive communications via email compared to 26% for post, and 24% for either text or face-to-face; messenger apps, social media and telephone contact were even lower.
The only areas where another channel is clearly preferred to email is for “advice, information or tutorials”, where face-to-face is preferred by 39% of those surveyed, compared to 32% for email.
The report claims this mirrors a broader trend in recent years for human contact when it comes to customer engagement, particularly if there is a problem or a more nuanced conversation is required.
Consumers estimated the number of emails they receive, on average, as 54.9 a week to their personal inboxes, down from 73.3 in 2017. Over half of respondents (56%) also believe the majority of these emails are marketing messages from brands.
The key to consumers opening one of these marketing messages is “recognising the brand” (for 55%) and “the subject line” (48%). Factors such as timeliness and a preview of the email being seen are ranked as less important by most people.
When asked about the device they use most often to access their personal emails, almost half (45%) said smartphone, closely followed by desktop (42%). One in ten (9%) tend to use their tablet device, with 2% now using their smartwatch and a further 1% using their smart speaker (Alexa or Google Home), although perhaps unsurprisingly this is the domain of the younger consumer.
Meanwhile, when it comes to checking their personal inboxes, the majority of consumers do so at least once a day (95%). In fact, over half (58%) even check their junk folders at least daily. Meanwhile, those living in urban areas are more likely to check both their inbox (41%) and junk (17%) at least every hour.
Marketing consultant Guy Hanson said: “The frequency of email checking has important considerations for brands that use send time optimisation. When a third of subscribers check their emails on an hourly basis, there is less point in trying to predict when they will open their emails – they will open them whenever they receive them.
“It’s also good news for email marketers that almost 60% of consumers check their junk folders on a daily basis, requiring brands to think about what can be done to make those emails stand out when they are being looked for, as well as doing all they can to improve the likelihood of the recipient clicking ‘not spam’. For instance, personalisation, use of the brand name and sending on a regular day/time can all help.”
However, Hanson cites the rise in the popularity of e-receipts as one of the big stories of the report, and he believes the growth of in-store acquisition has played an important role in post-GDPR list replenishment.
Yet he added: “It’s also going to pose some challenges, as many staff have not been properly trained to have these conversations with customers, and brands must also be careful not to include marketing content on the e-receipts themselves, as this would then make them marketing messages.”
Pure360 vice-president of marketing Komal Helyer concluded: “What’s clear is that email marketing remains core to the multi-channel experiences available to brands. These latest figures highlight how consumers believe email to be the best channel in a range of different contexts, and as a marketing communications channel, it continues to provide brands with a unique opportunity to create valuable and meaningful experiences for consumers.”
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