The Email Undertow: Consumers Are Eager To Open Messages From Brands And Everyone

Email may not be the most preferred channel for hearing from brands. But once people sign up, they will tolerate a fair amount of it, judging by The Path To Email Engagement in 2021, a study by Pathwire. 

Among email users, 63.3% check their emails at least twice a day and 25.4% more than five times a day.

Moreover, 51.% check their Gmail promotions tab daily, and 28.7% once a week. And 37.3% look at their spam folders once a day.  

In general, 78.5% want to hear from brands at least once a week, and 51.9% add that they hope to hear from them more than once a week. 

But here’s how consumers most like to hear from brands:

  • Going directly to the website — 57.9% 
  • Through social media — 50.8% 
  • Via email, by subscribing to their newsletters — 42% 
  • Through internet ads — 25.3% 
  • Via text message/SMS — 20%
  • Via in-person activities like in-store advertising or events — 15.6%



Contrary to what you might think, people in their 50s and 60s check their email more often than younger consumers. 

And oddly, 41% of married people or those with domestic partners check email two to five times a day, versus 34.4% of singles and/or those who never married.

In addition, 26.8% of married people check more than five times a day, compared to 23% of singles.

What prompts people to open emails? For 43.6%, content personalized to their interests is very important, and for 39.7% it is somewhat so. 

Less compelling is when the email includes a time-sensitive offer — 32.9% deem that very important, and 44.2% agree somewhat.

And 38.4% rate discounts promised in subject lines as a prime factor, with 42.7% saying they are somewhat in agreement. 

The remainder in each case says that these motivators are not important or that they don’t care.  

Of the consumers polled, 27.6% have one email address, 43.1% have two, 29.5% three, 4.9% four and 5% five or more. And 31.7% have a dedicated email address for promotional emails.  

Gmail has the largest market share by far, as shown by this ranking:

  • Gmail — 65.3% 
  • Outlook (Hotmail, MSN) — 15.8%
  • Yahoo (AOL, Verizon) — 8.4%
  • — 2.3%
  • GMX — 2.3% 

But it depends on the country. Gmail is favored by 76.3% in the U.S., and Yahoo by 14.2%. In the UK, Gmail has a 58.9% share and Outlook 30.6%.  

Gmail has a  smaller share in Germany — 52.9%, with second at 12.6%. 

Here’s when people check their emails, globally:

  • When I wake up — 27.2%
  • In the morning — 42.5%
  • Around lunchtime — 31.1%
  • In the afternoon — 32.3% 
  • In evening — 34.3%
  • Before I go to bed— 19.4%

When asked to name the apps they use to check emails, consumers responded as follows:

  • Gmail mobile app — 52.5%
  • Via browser on mobile — 37.7% 
  • Via browser on desktop — 34.4%
  • Outlook mobile app—10.7% 
  • Apple Mail — 9.3% 
  • Outlook desktop app — 7.4% 
  • Yahoo mobile app — 5%
  • Apple mail desk top app — 4%
  • Other — 2.7%

Pathwire surveyed 2,000 consumers worldwide. 




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