Email Trend Report: Consumers Go Mobile, Dodge Spam

September 25, 2009

Though email is cited by an overwhelming majority of global consumers as a primary communication tool, it is becoming more difficult for marketers to break through inbox clutter to deliver timely, relevant messages to customers and prospects, according to the latest email research from Epsilon.


Results from Epsilon’s “Global Consumer Email Study 2009,” reveal that email use remains strong worldwide, though increasing mobile access, concerns about security, and ever-present spam are forcing marketers need to change delivery platforms and seek creative ways to integrate email into multi-channel campaigns.

Key findings from the report:

  • Spam comprises the majority of email messages, especially in North America, where consumers report receiving an average of 169 spam emails each week. Other top types of email include retail offers, business/work emails, personal emails, newsletters and account statements:


  • Consumers are increasingly migrating to mobile platforms for email. Not surprisingly, Asia Pacific (APAC) leads in PDA or smartphone usage for email (32%), though North America (9%) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) (7%) will likely continue down the path toward a more mobile culture.
  • Email has made progress in displacing other types of traditional communications, including in-person sales calls, retail discount offers, telemarketing calls, bills/statements and promotional mail. Consumers are especially eager to see the medium displace telemarketing.
  • The most popular format for receiving email is HTML, though many consumers have no preference:


  • The “from” line is significantly more important than the subject line in compelling consumers to open email messages. The importance of the “from” line has grown over time, from 60% saying it is compelling in 2002 to 68% in 2009. In contrast, the importance of the subject line has declined, from 35% in 2002 saying it compels them to open a message, to only 26% in 2009.
  • Consumers most desire offers for regularly purchased products, reward program information and sweepstakes/drawing information in permission-based emails.
  • The most common actions taken after receiving permission-based emails are clicking on a website, entering a sweepstakes or promotion, and watching a video clip.
  • The biggest barriers to interacting with email offers are concerns about security, offers that are not attractive enough, lower-cost merchandise off-line and emails that are too long.
  • Top concerns about email and the internet are viruses, identity theft, phishing, scams, spyware, spam, adware and unsavory content. These are particularly important to consumers in North America.

Stragegies for Limiting Spam

Though consumer definitions of spam vary widely and range from any email which attempts to sell something to a malicious or intentionally tricky message, most consumers agree that it is a problem. To combat this, many employ tactics to limit the amount of spam they receive, the study found. The top ways consumers seek to limit spam:

  • Unsubscribing to spam emails
  • Using ‘junk’ email filtering
  • Reporting spam
  • Blocking spam senders

Interestingly, nearly a quarter of email users say they use fake email addresses when making purchases, a tactic that should be of some concern to legitimate retailers, Epsilon said.

About the survey: The research for the study was conducted in April 2009 by ROI Research, and compiles data from 4, 084 responding consumers in 13 countries: US, Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Malaysia, Japan, UK, France, Germany and Spain. The panel of participants includes consumers who have an active email account and receive permission-based email. When reporting by region, sample sizes reflect the number of completed surveys but data has been weighted to reflect each countries relative population size.

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