Consumers report receiving considerably fewer marketing emails following the introduction of the European Union’s rules on data protection and individual privacy.

In fact, 2018 saw them sent fewer emails than ever before, the Consumer email tracker 2019, from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has revealed. On average, consumers get around 57 marketing emails a week, they said, down from 73 in 2017.

The DMA study looked at consumers’ “perceptions and preferences” when it comes to the channel most people (59%) still prefer brands to use for marketing communications.

On average, people estimate they’ve signed up to receive emails from nine different brands, down from 12 in 2017. The DMA said that decline is a “potential by-product of the new laws [the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became enforceable in May last year] and consumers’ belief they have more control over the marketing emails they receive”.

Over half of people, though, (57%) said they read more than 50% of the emails they do receive.

So, why do consumers sign up in the first place, and what makes them click on “open message” when emails arrive in their inbox?

Key drivers for sign-ups are: discounts and offers on products (51%), being a regular customer (46%), and joining a loyalty scheme (40%).

Almost half of people (46%) said brand recognition is a major factor affecting whether they actually open a message they receive.

The commonest reason for unsubscribing will surprise no one: it’s receiving too many messages (59%). That was followed by information losing its relevance (43%), and not recognising the brand (43%).

The majority of consumers (70%) unsubscribe through a company’s website or the link in the email itself; and 40% say that after unsubscribing, they don’t expect to hear from a brand again by email, or only receive messages about actual purchases (23%).

Just 17% of consumers said they expect to be able to change their email preferences or complete a survey that gives marketers the chance to retain them as marketing recipients – or at least understand why they are opting out of receiving emails.

Sourced from DMA; additional content by WARC staff