Email marketing must be reimagined

Email is here to stay — in fact our lat­est study shows over half (51%) of UK office work­ers expect email usage to increase over the next two years . Mobile devices are encour­ag­ing the major­i­ty of us to obses­sive­ly check our inbox around the clock, and a mas­sive 81% of us check email out­side of work­ing hours. A third (31%) of peo­ple even admit to check­ing their mes­sages while still in bed in the morn­ing – a fig­ure which jumps to 50% for those aged 18–24.

Our con­tin­ued addic­tion to email, par­tic­u­lar­ly by mil­len­ni­als, means near­ly two thirds (63%) of con­sumers still pre­fer to receive mar­ket­ing offers in this way, way ahead of direct mail (20%), social media chan­nels (6%), the brand’s mobile app (5%), text mes­sage (4%) and phone (2%). Email is more rel­e­vant than ever before, and mar­keters can­not afford to let pro­mo­tion­al mes­sages go stale.

So why then are the major­i­ty of email offers sent by brands left unopened? Con­sumers are clear­ly not being wowed and are left frus­trat­ed by brands that have not yet bro­ken away from the days of blast-style emails. Peo­ple want to see few­er emails (35%) and less rep­e­ti­tion of the same mes­sages (34%), while those check­ing email on their smart­phone are turned off by hav­ing to scroll too much to read an entire email (28%), the lay­out not being opti­mised for mobile (21%), and hav­ing to wait for images to load (21%).

One thing which hasn’t changed, how­ev­er, is our appetite for offers and vouch­ers. Two thirds (67%) of peo­ple said they would be more like­ly to open a mar­ket­ing email if the sub­ject line made it clear there was an offer or vouch­er, with women aged 18–34 the savvi­est shoppers.

Email Mar­ket­ing: Old dog, new tricks

Email has been a main­stay of office cul­ture for more than 30 years now so, of all the mar­ket­ing dis­ci­plines, this is often the one in des­per­ate need of rein­ven­tion. Brands must learn to do new things with the old tech­nol­o­gy — like geo-tar­get­ing, video and buy but­tons – and adapt to con­stant­ly evolv­ing email habits. Only in the past cou­ple of years, for exam­ple, we’ve seen an explo­sion in the use of emo­ji with near­ly a third (30%) of UK office work­ers using the pic­tures or facial expres­sions not just with their friends but in emails to their boss. As infor­mal­i­ty has crept into the work­place, four in ten (39%) peo­ple will use also emo­ji when email­ing a direct man­ag­er and 59% when email­ing peers.

We have also seen a grow­ing trend for email detox­es, with 35% of peo­ple now say­ing they have some self-imposed time out. The aver­age detox last­ed 5.5 days and respon­dents report­ed feel­ing “Lib­er­at­ed” (33%) or “Relaxed” (44%).

Detox­es aside, email mar­keters have an unde­ni­ably devot­ed audi­ence. The pri­or­i­ty must be to keep con­sumers engaged through more dynam­ic con­tent that reach­es the right per­son, with the right con­tent, at the right place and at just the right moment. Email has stood the test of time, and brands need to make sure their mes­sages keep the same relevance.

About the research: Between July 13–17, 400 UK office work­ers were sur­veyed about their use of work and per­son­al email. All respon­dents owned a smartphone.