Email Whiplash: Consumers Are Stressed By The Sheer Volume Of Messages

The top email inbox activity in the U.S. is receiving online shopping offers and coupons. But that can be small comfort to brands, for most people are bothered by the growing volume of email, and many see it as an impediment at work, according to 85% of Americans Say They Feel Stressed From Email, a study published Wednesday by email provider Edison Mail. 

Of the consumers polled, 30% were more stressed by their email in 2021 than they were in 2020. And that was caused by the uptick in volume. 

“While Zoom was the talk of 2020, many businesses were not reliant on email marketing before the pandemic and were forced to pivot, leading to an increase in email volume across the digital ecosystem,” said Edison Mail’s Vice President of Marketing, Hetal Pandya.

In general, 40% of Americans received more daily notifications in 2021 YoY across email, text, messages and other channels. And the growth curve was steep, with 31% getting 50% more and 10% seeing a 100% increase.  



Email is tied for second in terms of overall communication usage: 

  • Phone Call—95%
  • Text Message/SMS—92%
  • Email—92%
  • Video Call (e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, Skype—80%
  • Social Media (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook)—83%
  • Messaging App (e.g., Whatsapp, Signal)—67%

And email is the second-most used channel:

  • Text Message/SMS—72%
  • Email—46%
  • Phone Call—33%
  • Messaging App (e.g., Whatsapp, Signal)—19%
  • Social Media (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, TikTok)—16%
  • Video Call (e.g., Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook, Skype)—7%

Shopping is now the top inbox activity:

  • Online shopping (e.g. coupons, offers)—61%
  • Correspondence for work—49%
  • Customer service—48%
  • Correspondence with friends, family—45%
  • Verify identity for online accounts—44%
  • Manage financial/banking info—32%
  • Consume news/newsletters—28%

Women are more likely than men to rely on their inbox for shopping, with a difference of 67% to 55%. 

Meanwhile, 30% say an increase in email volume made their jobs more difficult in 2021. In contrast, 21% blame video calls and 15% of people cite new communication tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Telegram. 

“With most Americans feeling stressed and fatigued from their email communications and nearly a third facing issues at work due to email volume, it’s obvious that there are systemic problems that need to be solved,” Pandya says. 

Edison Mail surveyed 1,112 consumers on January 13, 2022.


1 comment about "Email Whiplash: Consumers Are Stressed By The Sheer Volume Of Messages".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, March 1, 2022 at 12:32 p.m.

    I posed this question to my students and here are some of their thoughts...

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