Email Inbox

Adobe’s 2018 consumer email study has a few surprises about how email recipients really feel about the messages filling their inboxes every day.

The study does have good news about email use and attitudes toward email marketing but also has some cautions that might prompt you to rethink your email strategies and tactics.

10 stats email marketers need to know

You can view and download the entire presentation in SlideShare. But below are 10 findings you should think about now and to consider as you build and expand on your marketing plan:

1. People are spending slightly less time on work email but slightly more on personal email.

They’re spending an average 3.1 hours a day checking work email (down from 3.3 hours in 2017) and 2.5 hours on personal email. However, heavy email users knock this finding out of whack. The largest percentages of both work and personal email checking take an hour or less a day (40% work, 52% personal).

2. Second-screening rules when checking work and personal email.

The days when people sat down purposefully at their giant desktop monitors to read email are long gone. They’re most likely watching TV or movies (41% work, 60% personal) or lounging in the sack (31% work, 50% personal). Three in 10 are checking work email while on the phone, and 50% are in the bathroom.

This stat highlights the need to create attention-getting messages that begin with clear, action-driving subject lines that attract your distracted reader’s attention and prompts them to stop scrolling and start clicking.

3. The smartphone rules for email-checking in general, but desktops still edge out mobile for work email.

The split is now up to 85% smartphones to 69% desktops for general email checking. When looking specifically at work email, the desktop has a narrow-but-shrinking lead (53% to 43%). One surprise: The smartwatch is beginning to steal share from bigger devices — 5% of respondents say they use one regularly to check email.

4. Workers keep an eye on their inboxes when they’re on vacation, but they check their personal inboxes more often.

More than half (52%) of workers say they never or rarely check work email while on vacay, while 19% say they frequently or constantly check work email. (We want to party with them – not!)

By contrast, 21% of vacationers can mostly turn off the email impulse while 42% peek at it now and then (probably whenever they can get on free wifi), and 36% are on their phones all the time. So, you know that even during peak vacation times, consumers will be in their inboxes.

5. Subscribers are less likely to open and read their personal email, but not all those work emails get opened or read, either.

Consumers open an average 77% of work emails and 59% of their personal email.

The survey doesn’t distinguish between co-worker and general business-related emails, or one-to-one personal emails versus brand messages. But, we could suppose that a lot of unopened messages either convey the necessary info in the subject line, thus not needing to be opened, or don’t apply or appeal to the recipient.

Here’s set of contrasting stats:

  • 41% of consumers open all their work email, and 37% say they read every email they open.
  • But, only 12% said they open all their personal email, and 17% say they read every personal email they open.

Although we know email messages can deliver brand impact just by showing up in the inbox, it’s better to know that someone’s actually looking at your messages.

6. When reading both work and personal email, people are most likely to feel indifferent, but they’re more likely to feel excited than anxious or guilty.

Sure, it’s unrealistic to expect people who receive 100 or more emails a day will jump for joy each time they see your email, but it was a little disheartening to see indifference was the main emotion people felt when opening either work or personal email.

  • On the bright side, 34% of consumers feel excited about opening their emails.
  • Still, 9% feel anxiety or dread. But at least that’s less than the 22% of people who feel apprehensive about checking their work email.

But for marketers, it’s imperative to create emails that will spark your indifferent customers and delight your excited ones.

7. Stronger spam filters and better mobile viewing have improved the email experience more than other factors, but mobile email has some big negatives.

Now that nearly 9 in 10 email readers open email at least once on a smartphone, you need to make sure your email won’t trigger one of the three biggest mobile-email headaches:

  • Too much scrolling (20%);
  • Waiting for images to load (18%); or
  •  Using too much text.

8. Email is still No. 1 for brand communications, but changes are coming.

Half of all respondents prefer email for brand communications, with direct mail next in line at 20%. But email’s dominance is losing ground to phone calls (7%) and chatbots 3%.

9. People really do want informational, personalized emails, and some really want to buy something without leaving the inbox, but they look to email mainly for purchase incentives.

When asked what they would change about the email they get, 39% want more information and less promotion (27% said they want better personalization, BTW).

But, in response to another question, the No. 1 role for email is “Giving me additional incentives to purchase.”

Maybe the resolution is to dedicate more of your emails to help your customers buy better, with education and information – but give them something to buy, too.

10. “Too many emails” is the chief complaint about brand emails, but so is the lack of a buy button to make purchasing easier.

Other complaints surfaced in the Adobe study:

  • 23% Poorly written emails
  • 22% Offers that don’t match customer data
  • 22% Offer to buy a product already purchased
  • 16% “Creepy” personalization
  • 14% Poor design
  • 9% Little/no personalization
  • 8% No “buy” button/link
  • 7% No images/video

Putting the stats to work

We always latch on to user studies because they help us understand what’s going on in our customers’ inboxes beyond what we see in our ESP and ecommerce analytics. You need both to create emails that your customers will look for in the inbox, open more often than not, and act on.

(And, if you’re one of those marketers who doesn’t give your customers a “buy” button or link in your emails: Are you serious? Fix that right now!)

  • Want to see what other marketer’s are doing to stand out in the inbox? Check out our free Email Creative Archive and view over 1,000,000 emails from >5,000 brands.
  • Your creative is killer? How about your email list? Find out if it’s clean and problem free before you send with Free List Check.