Electronic Social Etiquette Influences Communication Success

According to a new report from Exact Target and CoTweet, data from "The Social Break-up" indicates 18% of email users say they never open email from companies, and 77% of all US online consumers say they have become more cautious in the past year about giving their email addresses to companies. Consumers are also highly sensitive to the difference between permission-based emails from companies they know and trust and unsolicited messages from unknown companies.

Despite this caution, email use in general remains extremely popular with US online consumers. 95% use email, and 93% subscribe to at least one permission-based email per day. 42% of those subscribers say they are more likely to buy a company's products once they have signed up for its permission-based email. Relevancy has become a baseline requirement for consumers, and they are quick to judge companies when their email programs fail to live up to this standard.

Subscriber personal stats reveal this association with email:

  • 95% of U.S. online consumers use email
  • 93% of U.S. online consumers are subscribers (receive at least one permission-based email a day.)
  • 83% of U.S. online consumers say they check email at least once per day
  • 64% say they check email several times per day
  • 70% say they always open emails from their favorite companies
  •  77% of U.S. online consumers say they've become more cautious about giving companies their email address over the past year.
  • 91% of email users have subscribed to a company's email and then later decided they no longer want to receive the emails
  • 18% say they never open email from companies

23%% of subscribers will continually delete or ignore email from companies with whom they no longer wish to interact, rather than making the effort to unsubscribe or hit the spam button. When subscribers are no longer interested in a company's permission emails:

  • 67% Click the link to "unsubscribe"
  • 17% Delete emails when they arrive
  • 8% Click the "spam" or "junk" button
  • 6% Just ignore the emails
  •  2% Setup a filter in email program

The most common complaint given by consumers as a reason they unsubscribe from a company's permission-based emails is that they come too frequently. Others cite the content becoming boring or repetitive over time. Specific reasons for unsubscribing include:

  • 54% of e-mails came too frequently
  • 49% say the content became repetitive or boring over time
  • 47% receive too many emails and needed to get off some companies' lists
  • 25% feel the content wasn't relevant from the start
  • 24% prefer to seek out information instead of having companies push it
  • 22% signed up for a one-time offer
  • 13% say that their circumstances changed (i.e., moved, married, changed job, etc.)
  • 8% switched to another company that provided better information
  •  6%I found they could get the information another way (e.g., via blogs, Facebook, etc.)

Facebook, or other social cites, present a different problem in disengaging, but not friending doesn't seem to influence perception about the brand. A consumer's decision to "unlike" a company has surprisingly little impact on the perceived likelihood that they will buy from that company in the future. In total, 63% of consumers said they were as likely or more likely to purchase something from a company after ending their Facebook relationship. Another 18% said they only "unlike" a company if they never bought anything in the first place.

It seems the correlation between "unliking" a company and continuing to do business with that company is tenuous at best. So while Facebook remains a viable channel for interactive marketing, companies probably shouldn't place undue emphasis on how many times they are "liked." Rather, the emphasis should be on fostering an engaged community of FANS who like you enough to amplify your brand within their circle of Facebook friends.

Reasons people want to disengage from brand that follow them to Facebook:

  • 44% say tht the company posted too frequently
  • 43% feel that their wall was becoming too crowded with marketing posts
  • 38% say the content became repetitive or boring over time
  • 26% Ionly "liked" the company to take advantage of a one-time offer
  • 24% decided that the company didn't offer enough deals
  • 24% feel that the posts were too promotional
  • 19% say that the content wasn't relevant from the start
  • 17% describe the company's posts as too chit-chatty; not focused on real value
  • 14% prefer to seek out information instead of having companies push it
  • 12% say personal circumstances changed

The report concludes by saying that regardless of channel, the research shows that the one thing that consistently drives consumers away are communications that, in some way, demonstrate that the company doesn't care. Caring, according to the consumers studied, conveys the sentiment that brands place the best interests of their customers ahead of their own balance sheets.

  • Email: Consumers want brands to send them relevant content that is tailored to their personal interests. They expect marketers to honor permissions, and show restraint when it comes to email frequency. They measure emails not against the best in the industry, but against the best senders in their inbox.
  •  Facebook: Consumers view Facebook as a great way to engage with brands they already know and trust. They expect marketers to keep their Facebook pages fresh and interesting, and to limit their posts to avoid drowning out social interactions.
  • Twitter: Consumers who actively use Twitter expect frequent, focused Tweets from brands, but they don't want to be overwhelmed. They expect to receive prompt answers when they ask questions via Twitter.

For more about the report, including charts and graphs, please access the PDF file here.

Tags: email, research
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1 comment about "Electronic Social Etiquette Influences Communication Success".
  1. Darrin Searancke from Halifax Chronicle Herald , February 25, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.

    I am an advocate of email marketing, but never give my e-mail when requested (verbally) unless I am a huge fan of a brand/service. And I mean huge. Never for Department Store/Chains and if they press the issue, I provide incorrect information. Show some respect!