Consumer Attitudes To Email Marketing Reveal Improvements, Challenges

ForresterResearch-Consumer-Attitudes-to-Email-Marketing-2010-2014-Oct2014Email marketing is considered to be one of the most effective digital marketing tactics, but how do consumers feel about it? A recent study [download page] by Forrester Research takes a look at consumer attitudes towards email marketing, finding some negative attitudes in decline, although other problem areas persist.

According to the report, 42% of US online adults delete most email advertising without reading it, down from 44% in 2012 and 59% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of consumers agreeing that most email ads they receive don’t offer anything that interests them fell by 3% points from 2012 to 38% this year.

Where comparisons are made with the 2010 survey, there appears to be a clear trend towards improved attitudes, as more consumers agree that email offers are a great way to find out about new products or promotions and fewer complain of receiving too many email offers and promotions. However, there have been few significant changes in the past 2 years – as most of the improvements in attitudes occurred between 2010 and 2012. (This seems to have been overlooked by press coverage of the report.) Indeed, even with those positive trends, the report indicates that email marketers face challenges. Consider that:

  • Respondents were much more likely to say that most email ads they receive don’t offer anything that interests them (38%) than to say that email offers are a great way to find out about new products or promotions (24%); and
  • They were more than twice as likely to say they delete most email advertising without reading it (42%) than they were to say they read most email ads just in case something catches their eye (19%).

Lack of subscriber engagement – as detailed in that second bullet point – was the impetus behind MarketingCharts’ latest Debrief, “Why Consumers Open Brand Emails.” Through primary research conducted among email subscribers, the Debrief reveals that engagement isn’t just about offers and promotions, however welcome they may be. Indeed, consumers actively preview emails before opening them, and timing may also play a role in their email-driven purchases.

It’s interesting to note that roughly 3 in 10 respondents to the Forrester Research survey agree that they often wonder how companies that send them offers got their name and email address. The MarketingCharts Debrief examines implicit opt-ins (where consumers joined lists in order to complete an action, such as create a website account), finding that this group of subscribers could account for a substantial share of the average email list and requires a different approach from marketers.

In other results from the Forrester Research study:

  • Younger adults report an above-average inclination to often make purchases through promotional emails; and
  • About 1 in 8 (13%) of respondents have manually turned on the images in a promotional email during the past 12 months, with that figure is down from 18% in 2012.

About the Data: The Forrester Research study is based on a survey of 33,546 US online adults.