Why Are Brits Opening Less Than Half Of The Branded Emails They Receive?

Last month, results of a Webtrends survey polling the email habits of 2,000 British consumers over the age of 18 revealed that on average people have 260 unopened emails sitting in their inbox. And 56% of these unread messages were from brands that consumers opted-in to receive communications from.

So why are consumers choosing not to open more than half of the branded emails they receive? John Fleming, marketing director for Europe and Asia at Webtrends, commented in The Telegraph: "As consumers, we’re happy to sign up to receive updates from brands, but only bother to open the ones we find relevant."

Marketers have been tussling with the challenge of maintaining the relevance of email ever since its inception. You can carefully conceive the message, be meticulous crafting its look and feel, optimise the design to avoid the junk folders, and use every ounce of knowledge, experience and data to schedule the campaign at a precise point in time deemed most likely to result in it being opened. But still open and response rates fall below par.

One of the big problems is, people don’t always open emails when we want them to! So, whilst the email may have been a highly relevant and personalised approach at the time it was sent, if it isn’t seen in a timely fashion, then the greater the chance that relevance will have subsided. After all, it is no fun reading an email from your favourite store that it is having a 24 hour sale, 24 hours after it has finished!

The ideal situation for both the email marketer and the consumer is an email that is compiled with content that is “real-time relevant,” crucially not at the point at which it arrives in the inbox, but at the point at which it is opened.  This may sound like a flight of fantasy but it is now becoming a reality.

For example, consider a format, now being beta-tested, which uses images rather than subject lines (typically the first and biggest hurdle to navigate in the quest to getting the attention of the recipient) in its promotions tab, to encourage the consumer to open an email. And this image (and the subsequent content of the email behind it) is not static, it is dynamic. What consumers see is an image that will be real-time-relevant to them, whether it is the latest product they viewed on the e-commerce site, a special offer based on their browsing history, or crowd-sourced popular items.

Email is still one of the best ways of directly engaging with consumers with campaign messages. Such a fresh approach to real-time relevant email marketing indicates that email’s strength shows no sign of diminishing. In fact, the opposite may well be the case. The survey shows that consumers are indeed signing up for email. So address the disconnect and make every email relevant for better response rates, which ultimately lead to greater revenues. 


1 comment about "Why Are Brits Opening Less Than Half Of The Branded Emails They Receive?".
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  1. Roy Reveltas from Revelt ltd., October 31, 2014 at 12:42 p.m.

    If you thought a bit, the data is worthless to ground any reasonable insights on it.
    Firstly, the longer the person had an inbox, the longer un-opened emails gathered there. My Gmail address is 10 years old. If I hadn't been occasionally setting all the messages as "read", there would be thousands of unread messages, yet I might be currently diligently reading all of my emails.
    Secondly, what were those 44% unopened messages? Spam-ones, sitting in the inbox (pure pharma-spam), personal messages or messages from brands that send without Opt-in (brand spam, ahem)?
    Thirdly, Open in itself doesn't indicate much. Litmus, Email On Acid, KickDynamics and other third-party tracking services also track the length of open. According to Litmus, "Read: 8 or more seconds; Skimmed: 2 or more seconds, but less than 8 seconds; Glanced/Deleted: less than 2 seconds". Glanced/Deleted counts as Open.

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