Today the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) and Validity have published the Consumer Email Tracker 2021 report, an annual study into consumers’ interactions with marketing emails, covering a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 UK adults. The report reveals that, for the first time, relevance of received messages (55%) has become the leading reason consumers like brand emails, even surpassing discounts and offers (53%).
With many customers having made the shift from traditional commerce to e-commerce over the past year, online brand presence has never been more important. In last year’s report, 55% of consumers cited brand recall as a reason to open an email. This has jumped to 68% this year, widening the gap with the content of the subject line (59%). Liking the brand (46%) is also a key driver for determining open rates.
This latest report also indicates the continuation of some of email’s longer running trends. Nearly three years on from the GDPR coming into force and consumers are showing they’re becoming more savvy to the data collection practices of businesses, and how to opt-out. This ultimately benefits marketers, as the greater knowledge and control customers have over their personal data, the more engaged they are when it is used appropriately. The proportion of consumers wondering where a brand got their email from has dropped from 43% in 2017 to 28% this year. Most people (54%) now use the link provided to them to unsubscribe from email programmes, up from 39% last year.
“The halo effect of GDPR continues to improve key measures of email’s success. Our most recent ‘Marketer Email Tracker 2020’ report highlighted rises in deliverability, response rates and conversions as a direct result of GDPR. We’re also seeing GDPR push changes in consumer behaviour, including greater importance of brand recall, increases in the perceived usefulness of messages, and a greater understanding of the controls available to them,” says Tim Bond, Head of Insight at the DMA.
The way consumers access and interact with email continues to evolve. Desktop/laptop devices (64%) are back on a par with smart phones (62%) as the primary email device, as consumers worked-from home more and commuted less. The majority of consumers opt to use Gmail (38%) or Hotmail/Outlook.com (33%) to provide their primary personal email address, continuing a consumer trend towards Google’s offering. The increase in Gmail is heavily driven by younger generations, particularly Gen Z consumers (73%).
In terms of engagement, while clicking on the link remains the single most likely action (19-29%), consumers are almost as likely to engage with the brand indirectly or via another channel (19-26%). In other words, many attribution models may be under-valuing the significance of email. That said, email remains the best channel brands can use across the customer journey, with over 70% of customers pointing to email over brand apps, social and other channels.
When asked about which brands they believe are utilising the email channel well, consumers once again named Amazon at the top of the list, followed by eBay, Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Asos, Next, Boots and Nectar, with Argos rounding out the top 10. Nine of these companies are Validity customers.
Guy Hanson, Deputy Chair of DMA Email Council & Vice President of Customer Engagement International says: “Whilst email’s dominance remains unchanged, the arrival of Coronavirus signalled major changes for global email strategy. Messaging focus has pivoted away from promotions to useful information about store closures, delivery timing changes, and the steps brands are taking to keep customers safe in-store. These messages, delivered with empathy, are addressing big changes in work/life balance that altered when and how consumers engaged with their emails. This report holds up a mirror to show what consumers really want to receive from their marketing emails, and smart senders will take note by adapting their programs accordingly.”
Further information about the report can be found on the DMA website: https://dma.org.uk/research/consumer-email-tracker-2021