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Information trumps promotion in emails, finds consumer research from DMA and Validity

A newly published report has revealed that, for the first time, relevance of received messages (55%) has become the leading reason consumers like brand emails, even surpassing discounts and offers (53%).

The findings come from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) and Validity’s  ‘Consumer Email Tracker 2021 report, an annual study into consumers’ interactions with marketing emails, covering a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 UK adults.

With many customers having made the shift from traditional commerce to ecommerce over the past year, online brand presence has never been more important. In last year’s report, 55% of consumers cited brand recall as a reason to open an email. This has jumped to 68% this year, widening the gap with the content of the subject line (59%). Liking the brand (46%) is also a key driver for determining open rates.

This latest report also indicates the continuation of some of email’s longer running trends. Nearly three years on from the GDPR coming into force and consumers are showing they’re becoming more savvy to the data collection practices of businesses, and how to opt-out. The proportion of consumers wondering where a brand got their email from has dropped from 43% in 2017 to 28% this year. Most people (54%) now use the link provided to them to unsubscribe from email programmes, up from 39% last year.

Tim Bond, Head of Insight at the DMA, said of the findings: “The halo effect of GDPR continues to improve key measures of email’s success. Our most recent ‘Marketer Email Tracker 2020’ report highlighted rises in deliverability, response rates and conversions as a direct result of GDPR. We’re also seeing GDPR push changes in consumer behaviour, including greater importance of brand recall, increases in the perceived usefulness of messages, and a greater understanding of the controls available to them.”

The way consumers access and interact with email continues to evolve. Desktop/laptop devices (64%) are back on a par with smart phones (62%) as the primary email device, as consumers worked-from home more and commuted less. The majority of consumers opt to use Gmail (38%) or Hotmail/ (33%) to provide their primary personal email address, continuing a consumer trend towards Google’s offering. The increase in Gmail is heavily driven by younger generations, particularly Gen Z consumers (73%).

When asked about which brands they believe are utilising the email channel well, consumers once again named Amazon at the top of the list, followed by eBay, Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Asos, Next, Boots and Nectar, with Argos rounding out the top 10. Nine of these companies are Validity customers.

Guy Hanson, Vice President of Customer Engagement Validity International, said: “The arrival of Coronavirus signalled major changes for global email strategy. Messaging focus has pivoted away from promotions to useful information about store closures, delivery timing changes, and the steps brands are taking to keep customers safe in-store. These messages, delivered with empathy, are addressing big changes in work/life balance that altered when and how consumers engaged with their emails. This report holds up a mirror to show what consumers really want to receive from their marketing emails, and smart senders will take note by adapting their programs accordingly.”

Further information on the report can be found on the DMA website.


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