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Email marketing needs to evolve

News, 05 October 2016

LONDON: European consumers continue to rely heavily on email but the way they use it is changing as more people check communications on mobile devices outside of the office and home and fewer open branded content.

According to research by Adobe, which surveyed more than 3,000 office workers across the UK, France and Germany, there are no longer any demarcation lines for accessing work and personal email and no time when this can't be done.

European professionals checked their email around the clock, it found, with nearly nine in ten (88%) checking their personal email accounts while at work, and 79% engaging with work email outside of office hours.

Further, 61% of respondents read emails while on holiday, while 59% admitted to reading their emails when watching TV, and 42% when in bed.

The reason is of course that mobile devices make such behaviour possible: nearly three quarters (74%) of Europeans now regularly check emails using a smartphone.

And in the UK, in particular, smartphones (79%) have overtaken desktops (75%) as the preferred device to check emails.

Consequently, email writing styles are evolving, becoming shorter and less formal as they increasingly resemble text messages and emojis become commonplace.

But many marketers have yet to adjust to the new reality, it seems, since open rates are declining and content can often be device-inappropriate, while the frequency of emails remains a common complaint from consumers.

On average, Europeans said that only 21% of the branded email offers they received via their personal email were interesting enough to open, a figure that dropped to 15% for those received at work. This was down across both work and personal emails by 10% from 2015, Adobe said.

More than one fifth (22%) of respondents said their biggest annoyance was that content wasn't optimised for their smartphone. Having to scroll beyond one page was an annoyance for 23% of users, and images that didn't load irritated 18% of respondents.

Nearly half (46%) cited the frequency of emails from brands as the biggest turn-off, followed by poorly-written messages (29%) and offers based on clearly inaccurate profile data (22%).

Marketers need to ensure their email communications evolve with their audiences' preferences, Adobe said, or risk consumers unsubscribing – a common way for them to manage their inbox.

Data sourced from Adobe; additional content by Warc staff