The Dead Email File: Consumers Are Using Their Inboxes For Storage

Consumers widely prefer email at all stages of the buying journey, and most use their inboxes to store marketing messages. But they also like to engage with brands via other channels, according to highlights from the 2021 Email Tracker Report by the UK Data & Marketing Association (DMA). 

In one "positive" finding, the number of consumers who believe less than one in four emails is useful has fallen to 56% from 69% in 2019. But only 15% believe that half the marketing emails they receive are useful. 

Although the respondents are not identical to those in the U.S., the study sheds light on behaviors that are likely similar in North America.

The most common action is to click on a link in an email, but many shoppers will engage through means other than email.



Of the consumers surveyed, 76% like email for pre-purchase communications, 84% for post-purchase, 71% for customer service and 77% for additional benefits.  

In contrast, 49% also like brand apps for pre-purchase, 40% for post-purchase, 28% for customer service and 52% for additional benefits.  

Social media is also viewed well by 28% for pre-purchase, 50% for post-purchase, 51% for customer service and 32% for additional benefits. 

The study concludes that “email can trigger engagement with other channels.”

Meanwhile, 26% have an additional email address for brand messages, and 18% use multiple accounts for both personal and marketing emails. In addition, email inboxes have evolved into personal facilities, the study says.

For instance, 48% use their inbox to store account information, 51% bills, 56% offers/marketing, 53% product/service information and 55% use it for receipts. No other channels come close. 

Moreover, 58% see email inboxes as convenient and 55% feel they are easy to access when looking for a piece of information. But only 18% say  emails are less likely to be lost than paper copies. 

This suggests that the consumers using their inboxes for storage may not quickly return to those emails -- if ever. 

What’s more, only 41% see value in marketing emails, and a mere 15% find that at least half the emails they receive are useful. 

What kind of emails do they like? For the first time, relevant messages overtook discounts and offers by a margin of 55%-53%. Another 46% favor emails when they like the brand itself, and 39% desire useful content. 

“While email remains the most effective and popular way for brands to engage with consumers there is still a lot of room for improvement," concludes Tim Bond, head of insight at the DMA.

Bond continues, "Over the past year an increasing number of consumers are finding a higher number of marketing emails useful. However, the fact that most consumers only find 25% or less valuable means that brands must become better at understanding what is relevant to their customers through intelligent marketing.” 



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