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Although marketers have put social media above email when it comes to perceived effectiveness for the past couple of years, it’s safe to say that email is not dead. In a survey of more than 1,000 US adult knowledge workers by Adobe, respondents estimated opening a full 80% of their work emails and 57% of their personal emails.

But while respondents seem to be opening email in general, especially those involving their jobs, marketing emails have been found to have one of the lowest unique open and click-through rates. A possible reason for this is that brands are not necessarily making offers interesting enough for people to open their emails. Respondents to Adobe’s survey say that only about one-quarter of brand emails in their work (26%) or personal (23%) inboxes have offers interesting enough to open. This is down from 31% (work) and 27% (personal) in the same survey last year.

The majority of respondents do say they prefer to receive offers through email (56% work, 60% personal) more than they through direct mail or social media, but what annoys them the most is that they are emailed too often by brands.

Getting Personalization Right is Important

Data from Ascend2 earlier this year found while marketers ranked personalization as one of the most effective email marketing strategies, it was also considered one of the most difficult to execute.

On the flip side, consumer-based studies have found that personalization can be considered ‘creepy’. However, in this study, there’s a slightly softer view – at least when personalization is done well. Respondents overall indicate that they think personalization of their personal email is important, while fewer respondents believe that it’s important for their work email offers to be personalized. It’s worth noting though that those surveyed were identified as “knowledge workers”, which may mean their opinion differs from the population as a whole.

Personalization is also more important to the younger generations, with Millennials saying that it’s important for brands to customize their communications for personal (46%) and work (37%) emails. Significantly fewer Boomers felt it was important that their personal (30%) or work (23%) emails be customized.

That being said, the data does reiterate the consequences of getting the personal touch wrong. Another annoying aspect of brand offer emails is that the marketer’s data about the recipient is incorrect (25% citing this for work emails, 23% for personal ones). Respondents are particularly frustrated when personalized emails just don’t match their interests, misspell their name, or contain expired offers. Also frustrating are offers that are not appropriate to the season/location or promote things they’ve already purchased.

Time Spent Checking Email Declines

In 2016, the number of minutes per weekday spent checking personal (209 minutes) and work (256 minutes) emails was quite a bit higher than it stands today (143 minutes and 209 minutes respectively), at least according to this report. While respondents are still spending more than 2 to 3 hours checking their email (depending on the type of email they are checking), the majority (71%) say that they feel this is just the right amount of time. Still, Adobe does note that Millennials and Gen X respondents were most likely to say they should cut back on checking their email.

And where are people checking their email? During the workday, almost half (48%) of respondents say they first check their work emails when they get to work, while more than one-third check their email while still in bed (13%) or while getting ready or eating their breakfast (25%).

By contrast, more than two-fifths (42%) of respondents first check their personal emails while getting ready for work and another one-quarter (25%) do so while still in bed. What might be seen as good news in the eyes of employers is only 17% of respondents say they wait to check their personal emails until they get to work.

Find the full survey results here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 1,002 US adults, all of whom were working-age knowledge workers.

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