Retail Shoppers Say: We Like Email, But Enough Is Enough

Almost half of all consumers say email is their favorite channel for retail brand communications. That doesn’t mean they open the ones they get: An even greater number ignore them because of inbox overload, according to Surviving the Retail Apocalypse, a study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

Centennials are the most likely to feel they get too many marketing emails, with 68% saying so. In contrast, 56% of millennials and 47% of baby boomers agree.

Second on the gripe list, cited by 50%, is irrelevant product recommendations. Here the baby boomers lead at 51%, versus 48% of Gen Xers, 43% of millennials and 45% of centennials.

In addition, 42% of those polled are turned off by irrelevant product recommendations, with boomers and centennials tied for first place. Only 9% overall say they do not ignore emails.

A small percentage complains about lack of personalization or over-personalization. But only 37% agree that the messages they receive from retailers are sufficiently personalized. Another 32% have received product recommendations that fail to interest them, and 30% have gotten them for items they have already purchased.



At the same time, 33% will reject an email if it fails to offer a discount or free shipping, and 60% will buy.  

Overall, the study found that 47% of the respondents prefer email for brand communications, versus 17% for display, 14% for text messaging, 12% for mobile apps and 10% for social media.

“Email is so prominent for consumers that even if they don’t open a brand’s message, they’re still paying attention to what the brand sends,” the study states.

Despite that fine showing for email, social media is gaining because it drives consumer engagement in several ways. For instance, 36% apiece share posts because of promised discounts or a product update or sale. And 35% will share because they agree with the content of the post.

Here’s a curious finding: that 30% will share because the post is funny or interesting.

But back to email -- of those polled, 42% will not unsubscribe from emails they don’t bother to read—they depend on subject lines to determine which messages to open.

Many remain subscribed because it is too much trouble to unsubscribe, however. For example,18% say they are too busy to hit unsubscribe, 15% can’t find the bottom, and 12% say the retailer asks too many questions to unsubscribe.

Desktops still rule when it comes to online purchasing, with 54% choosing them, led by centennials and GenXers. They feel desktops are faster, easier and more secure.

But smartphone use is growing, with 33% preferring these mobile devices for making online purchases. Millennials are first here, with 58% preferring this option, only 16% of the boomers concur, versus 43% of the centennials.

Tablets barely place — at 16%, boomers are most likely to use them to purchase.

The lesson here?

"Growing competition and shifting consumer expectations prompt marketers to start delivering more relevant content, better personalization and unique experiences in order to move consumers along each stage of the customer journey – from awareness to loyalty," states Jim Sturm, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

He adds, "Brands must get creative with their programs and use the wealth of customer data at their disposal to identify customers' preferences and interests in order to keep them engaged."

Yes Lifecycle Marketing surveyed over 1,000 consumers.

1 comment about "Retail Shoppers Say: We Like Email, But Enough Is Enough".
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  1. Peter Duffy from Mercanto, September 27, 2018 at 2:46 a.m.

    Arguably there are 2 big dials to improve email performance:

    • Frequency (currently set to 10 for most brands) 

    • Personalization (currently set to 3 for most brands)

    ..this article from respected author and consultant @kathpay shows the current state of email personalization:

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