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American consumers find only 26% of personal e-mails from brands interesting enough to open

11 October 2019

Biggest annoyance is being e-mailed too often

Authors of the Adobe Email Usage Study 2019 report released this week find that American consumers are spending an average of 143 minutes every weekday checking personal e-mail, but find only 25% of commercial messages interesting enough to open.

But 60% of respondents also said they most prefer to receive offers via e-mail vs. direct mail, social media, and other marketing channels.

Personalization of e-mails is also important to consumers, but degree varies by generation:

  • 46% of Millennials want personalized messages from brands
  • 43% of Gen X
  • 30% of Baby Boomers

52% of respondents said they check personal e-mail "every few hours" throughout the day.

But on average, respondents said they find only 26% of personal e-mails from brands sufficiently interesting to open, down from 31% in 2017 and 2018.

Most annoying attributes of personal e-mails reported were:

  1. E-mailed too often (43%)
  2. Urging me to buy something I've already purchased (24%)
  3. Marketer's data about me are wrong (23%)
  4. Too wordy or poorly written (23%)

Most reported failures of personalization involved:

  1. Recommendations not matching interests (31%)
  2. Name misspelled (19%)
  3. Expired offers (19%)
  4. Offer not appropriate to season or location (15%)
  5. Promoting things I've already purchased (15%)

Adobe VP/Global Marketing/Digital Experiences Sarah Kennedy said:

"The Adobe survey findings solidify how important email still is in the everyday lives of our customers, and this means there is still a big opportunity for marketers to utilize email to engage with people in relevant and useful ways.”

Findings are based on results on a survey of 1002 US adults - 52% female, 50% Millennials, living in USA, working in office or white-collar occupations - conducted in July 2019.


Findings suggest some action items for marketers using e-mail:

  • Work on finding the message frequency with which your target audience is most comfortable, by A/B testing and tracking unsubscribe rates.
  • Consider that Millennials - who want personalized messages more than do Gen X or Boomers - may tolerate a higher message frequency.
  • Carefully maintain your customer database - personal information and who has received what offer, and who has bought - to avoid failures of personalization.
  • Use conversational language in promotions, but don't release anything containing egregious spelling or grammar errors.

Happy e-mailing!

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