If You Think Email Is Dead, Think Again

Email is very much holding its own among newer channels and technologies.

If You Think Email Is Dead, Think Again

by Giselle Abramovich

Posted on 09-08-2019

If You Think Email Is Dead, Think Again

When it comes to the biggest trends in marketing today, our industry is obsessed with channels such as social, voice, and augmented reality as the means for reaching today’s modern audience. And while each plays an important role in the customer journey, new research from Adobe finds a more traditional form of marketing—email—is very much holding its own among newer channels and technologies.

In fact, consumers said they spend approximately five hours a day checking work email (three-plus hours a day) and personal email (two-plus hours a day), according to our 2019 “Adobe Email Usage Study,” which surveyed 1,002 U.S. adults in July 2019. They’re refreshing their inboxes from a variety of times and places too: while watching TV, in bed, during work meetings, during meals, while driving — and even in the bathroom.

It’s incredibly clear that we’re all comfortable with email, and we’ve integrated it into almost every part of our day. While it’s important to note that the time we spend checking email overall has declined since 2016, the frequency remains substantial. 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.

“Contextual relevance and usefulness are critically important because you need both to deliver value to your customer and without them, you also risk being ignored,” Kennedy emphasized.

Email Offers: Survey Says, ‘Room For Improvement’

According to the survey, work emails are opened more frequently than personal emails—80% and 57%, respectively. Respondents also said they most prefer to receive offers this way (56% for work, 60% for personal), which is significantly more than direct mail, social, and other marketing channels.

Yet only one-quarter of email offers from brands are interesting or compelling enough to open, consumers said. Why don’t people open emails? Frequency of brand email communications is the leading annoyance for both work and personal emails, according to respondents. Other issues cited include incorrect marketing data about the recipient, offers to buy an already-purchased product, and poorly written or wordy messages.

Consumers said personalization in email marketing is important to them—especially in personal correspondence. Broken down by generations, almost half of Millennials (46% ) said they want personalized email communications from brands, followed by 43% of Gen X and 30% of Baby Boomers. For work emails, 37% of Millennials want them personalized, as do 26% of Gen X and 23% of Boomers.

Consumers said they are most frustrated by email recommendations that don’t match up to their interests—33% for work emails and 31% for personal emails.

“It’s no secret that customers now expect personalized experiences both online and off,” Kennedy said. “Accurate and useful personalization in email marketing is a must. Get their names right. Provide offers for products and promotions they’ve already expressed interest in. Forget about mass emails to your entire subscriber list. Understand the implication of their gender, location, age, and whatever else you already know about them.”

Work-Life Balance—Or Not

According to the study, respondents across all groups frequently check their work emails outside of the office. Interestingly, they’re checking personal email less during work hours; although that’s more true for Boomers than for Millennials and Gen Z, 31% and 26%, respectively, who still check personal email multiple times per hour.

Despite most people checking work emails outside of the office, there is a growing trend to resist this urge, driven by Millennials. Almost half (48%) of consumers said they don’t check their work emails until they start working. Of the remainder, just 13% check while still in bed, 15% while commuting, and 25% while eating breakfast.

As for personal emails, 25% of consumers said they first check their personal email while still in bed, 42% check while getting ready or eating breakfast, 16% check en route to work, and 17% check when they get into work.

For comparative purposes, social media, which has seemingly taken over our lives, is mostly first checked when on a break at work (30%). Not far behind, 26% said they first check while still in bed, 25% check while getting ready in the morning or eating breakfast, 11% check during their morning commute, and 8% check at the office.

Compared with 2018, the study also found that Baby Boomers are more likely (more than half) to ignore work-related email while on vacation, but personal email is frequently checked. On the other hand, one-quarter of Millennials and Gen X check their work email multiple times a day when on vacation, while one-third do so with their personal email.

“There are generational preferences and habits that come into play, for sure, “ Kennedy told CMO by Adobe. “And it depends on the person and what their daily routines and preferences are. For example, someone who commutes via public transportation might choose to check their email while on the train, while someone who is driving to work would wait until they get into the office. Understanding when and where individuals are more likely to open an email communication from a brand is key in getting open and engagement rates up.”

Get the 2019 Email Usage study.View study

For brick-and-mortar retail associates, an unhappy shopper can be addressed in real time. If a customer appears frustrated, the retailer can offer in-the-moment assistance, such as providing a different shoe size, setting up a fitting room, or giving directions to the proper aisle for the product being sought.

But how can marketers address similar frustrations online to provide a better experience? Because in today’s digitally driven world, users expect the same treatment online as they would receive in-store.

Transfering Tactics

Marketers must put their feet in a customer’s shoes to understand buying preferences and motivations. But doing so is more difficult when the experience is online. For example, if a consumer, who has been targeted with a pair of sneakers for a period of time, finally decides to buy them, he’s then looking forward to the purchase. But if the website has a malfunction–perhaps the product page is down or the checkout link causes an error page–he will be nothing short of aggravated. But online retailers can’t visually see that a customer is upset. All the marketer can see is that the person ultimately didn’t make the purchase, without knowing why.

In this day and age, it’s critical that marketers have insight into why a shopper had a bad experience and be able to show empathy when an issue arises, particularly when the brand is at fault. Marketers must be able to understand and measure customer experience, which requires not only knowing how shoppers are behaving on their sites, but how they are feeling when they do it–and why.

Engaging with a consumer online is becoming more critical each day. To get the level of intelligence required to best understand and connect with those consumers, marketers need to take what has long been done on offline channels and apply the same practices online: measure, manage, and improve.

Understanding Motivations And Intentions

Measuring and managing online experiences to understand the “why” behind behavior goes far beyond clicks and hovers. It’s no longer enough to solely rely on piecing together and testing what is working (and not working) on your properties. To understand a customer’s state of mind, marketers must be able to read online digital behavior the same way they would in a physical store. Fortunately, similar to in-store shoppers, online consumers provide warning signs of an issue through digital body language.

Digital body language accounts for every interaction and gesture a consumer makes on a website or app–including what happens between the clicks. It is essential for gaining insight into and benchmarking how users are feeling throughout every online session. Multiclicks, for example, are indicative of user frustration. If a link is broken or a confirmation button is slow or unresponsive, online shoppers might click repeatedly until the page responds.

Another indication of frustration is bird’s nest behavior, or when a user rapidly shakes the mouse around, leaving a jumbled mouse trail that, in session replays, resembles a bird’s nest.

Multiclicks can be broken down into “unresponsive multiclicks,” where the behavior falls on an unresponsive element, such as a paragraph of text or an image, and “responsive multiclicks,” where the behavior falls on a responsive element, such as a link or a slide show arrow. Another indication of frustration is bird’s nest behavior, or when a user rapidly shakes the mouse around, leaving a jumbled mouse trail that, in session replays, resembles a bird’s nest. This often occurs when a page won’t load or consumers are not able to find what they’ve come to the site for.

Through the analysis of 3 million user sessions with its website’s “Get a Quote” form, a major financial services company found that the average completion rate of the form was 77%. For sessions that contained a responsive multiclick behavior, the completion rate was just 17%. For unresponsive multiclick behavior, the completion rate was even lower, at 14%. Reading and understanding the variations of digital body language allowed marketers to understand where users became frustrated or confused on its website. This is critical for marketers to not only ensure individual customers have their issues addressed immediately, but also to benchmark and improve experiences over time.

Through the analysis of 3 million user sessions with its website’s “Get a Quote” form, a major financial services company found that the average completion rate of the form was 77%. For sessions that contained a responsive multiclick behavior, the completion rate was just 17%. For unresponsive multiclick behavior, the completion rate was even lower, at 14%. Reading and understanding the variations of digital body language allowed marketers to understand where users became frustrated or confused on its website. This is critical for marketers to not only ensure individual customers have their issues addressed immediately, but also to benchmark and improve experiences over time.

Marketers need the right data in order to understand and address the pain points that customers experience. Without the ability to read digital body language or understand when and why a customer is frustrated or confused, it is impossible for marketers to create a positive, meaningful experience for each individual shopper.

By acquiring this level of intelligence and creating better experiences, customer loyalty will ultimately increase as does potential revenue. The cost of acquiring customers is high, so it’s critical to maintain and please existing customers via engaging and empathetic digital experiences.

Marketers need the right data in order to understand and address the pain points that customers experience.Learn More

“The Deloitte Consumer Review: The growing power of consumers,” Deloitte, 2014, www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/consumer-business/consumer-review-8-the-growing-power-of-consumers.pdf.

“Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent from 2016,” Gartner Press Release, www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917.

Gina Casagrande, “Let the Crowd Fuel the Demands for Optimized, Personalized Content,” Adobe Blog, September 27, 2017, theblog.adobe.com/let-crowd-fuel-demands-optimized-personalized-content.

Customer experience has become a brand’s most critical competitive differentiator. For example, a recent Adobe survey found that 64% of Generation Z shoppers and 72% of Millennial shoppers think brands should provide a personalized experience.

Topics: Insights & Inspiration, Experience Cloud, Trends & Research, Digital Transformation, Marketing, CMO by Adobe

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