Top Reasons Consumers Give For Marking Emails as Spam

Kentico-Top-Reasons-Marking-Email-as-Spam-Sept2013Kentico has released the results of a survey regarding consumers’ views of email marketing. While the company surveyed a relatively small sample of consumers (“more than 300”), some of the attitudes uncovered are intriguing. Among them: respondents are more likely to say they’d mark email from legitimate companies as spam because the companies email them too frequently (38%) than because the emails are unsolicited (34%). Of course, there are various reasons for marking email as spam, and consumers likely have a number of them. In this case, it appears that the survey asked to choose a single reason. After those top 2 responses, 26% of respondents said they mark emails as spam when they don’t contain anything of interest. The remaining 2% said they do so when the emails seem shoddy with poor design and typos.

Frequency of emails has often been seen as the main culprit for unsubscribes (see here for an example), and it may be that consumers mark frequent emails as spam out of convenience, rather than unsubscribing. Recent research from Return Path, meanwhile, suggests that brands emailing less than once a week see better results than those emailing with more frequency.

Returning to the Kentico study, the results suggest consumer apathy towards email marketing’s progress over the years. In fact, the proportion believing email marketing has gotten worse (36%) over the past 5 years slightly outweighed the proportion believing it has gotten better (32%), with the remainder neutral.

Clutter may be a problem, as research has found that brands are sending more and more emails, with the average recipient receiving 416 commercial messages a month, according to one study. A plurality 37% of respondents to the Kentico study indicated that they “willfully” subscribe to 1-5 email lists, with 31% subscribing to 6-10 lists, 14% to 11-15 lists, 7% to 15-20 lists, and a brave 5% to more than 20 lists.

While on average 44% of respondents said they read three-quarters or more of the emails they receive, that figure rose to 48% among respondents subscribed to 6-10 lists.

Other Findings:

  • 77% of respondents say they’re unlikely to welcome an unsolicited email even if it’s relevant to them.
  • Among those who subscribe to lists, 57% say they stay on for 1-3 year, with fewer (22%) for 4-6 years. A loyal 16% said they stay on lists for 10 or more years.
  • 45% claim they’ll perform an action requested in a marketing email (such as learning more about a product or taking part in a sale) about 1-2 times per month. About 1 in 5 said they’d never respond to a call to action.

About the Data: The study was conducted online among more than 300 US residents aged 18 and up during August 2013.