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Though 64% of consumers say promotional offers dominate both the email and traditional mail they receive, only 41% view them as must-read communications and many even steer clear of a brand in protest of such irrelevant mailings, according to a study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and InfoPrint Solutions Company.

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The study results, the CMO Council said, point to an overall dissatisfaction with the shotgun approach to promotional message and demonstrate that consumers are taking more control of in-bound communication channels, unsubscribing to irrelevant email, and defecting from brands that deliver irrelevant content and random mass mailings. In fact, some 41% of overall respondents say they would consider ending a brand relationship because of irrelevant promotions, and an additional 22%? say they would definitely defect from the brand.

In a more specific example of this behavior, of the 91%? of consumers who opt out or unsubscribe to emails, 46% are driven to brand defection because the messages are simply not relevant, the report said.

Consumers Want to Be Understood

The study found that, when given the opportunity to choose, 51% of consumers prefer to receive product or service promotions via traditional mail while 44% prefer email.

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More importantly, however, the study also revealed that while marketers continue to weigh the pros and cons of email vs. printed postal mail, consumers are much more concerned about the level of individualization and understanding of their needs and relationship with the brand.

“Irrelevant, impersonal communications, be it email or traditional mail, is a waste as it does not engage a receptive recipient,” said Liz Miller, VP programs and operations, CMO Council. “It is no surprise that consumers are opting out of irrelevant emails. However, what is a grave sign for marketers to heed is that customers will disconnect and stop doing business with brands who continue to send messages that demonstrate a lack of intimacy, customer insight and individual understanding.”

Additional report findings:

  • The type of emails that are most often “always” opened are monthly bills, followed by bank statements.

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  • 90% of consumers open monthly bills delivered via traditional mail, compared with 72% who open bills delivered via email.
  • Nearly 75% of consumers have received promotions for products they have previously purchased from a company.
  • 73% of consumers would be open to receiving print statements if mailed materials were recyclable or part of a sustainability program.

Role of Loyalty Programs
Even when marketers have deeper engagements with customer, as with loyalty clubs and rewards programs, they are often missing the mark in delivering meaningful messages, the study found. Only 6% of consumers feel that the promotions received through loyalty club communications were based on preferences or past purchasing behavior. The result of this mixed bag of messages, according to the report, is that marketers are missing the opportunity to drive loyalty and affect purchase intentions. To this end, 30%? of consumers say they are inspired to do business with a company after receiving personalized communication.

“Staying relevant, valued and connected to customers has become the number-one challenge for marketers today,” said Sandra Zoratti, VP of global solutions marketing at InfoPrint Solutions Company. “There is a real need to adopt precision marketing approaches that utilize more tailored and targeted messaging throughout the entire customer life cycle.”

Additional data included in the report:

  • Traditional junk mail accounts for more than 100 billion pieces of mail each year, and 44% of this unsolicited, primarily promotional mail ends up in a landfill unopened.
  • There are more than 200 billion email messages sent each day, yet 97% of all email sent is actually spam, according to an April, 2009 report released by Microsoft.
  • Cisco reports “customized” spam that is based on personal information stolen from the web has quadrupled over the last 12 months (2009).
    The average email open rate across 16 industries during Q209 now stands at 22.2%, and has increased for the fourth quarter in a row (via Epsilon).
  • About 3.3% of opt-in emails for subscribers in the US and Canada were sent to “junk” or “bulk” email bins, while 17.4% did not get delivered at all (via ReturnPath).
  • Forrester reports that by 2014, email marketing spend will rise to $2 billion – almost double the projected spend of $1.2 billion for 2009.
  • The average individual is expected to receive 25 messages a day in five years, double 10 or 12 emails received now. (via ReturnPath)

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