Europeans are addicted to email, according to new research from Adobe. But marketers are struggling to engage them. 

The study found that office workers spend just over a third (34%) of their waking day on reading, writing and replying to both work and personal emails. On average, Europeans report that only 21% of the branded email offers they receive via their personal email are interesting enough to open (and that's only 15% for those received at work). This is down across both work and personal emails by 10% from 2015.

European professionals check their email around the clock, with nearly nine in ten (88%) checking their personal email accounts while at work, and 79% engaging with work email outside of office hours. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of those surveyed read emails while on holiday, 59% admit to reading their emails when watching TV, and 42% check them whilst in bed.

Respondents also indicated that their use of email is evolving alongside growing smartphone use, with email styles increasingly resembling those of text messages. Over one-third (36%) of European office workers observe a trend toward less formal emails. And a third (32%) find that the written quality of emails is decreasing, and 30% think that emails are getting shorter.

Marketing to a more mobile audience

The use of smartphones continues to grow, with nearly three quarters (74%) of Europeans now regularly checking emails using a smartphone.

In the UK in particular, smartphones have overtaken desktops as the preferred device to check emails, coming in at 79% and 75% respectively. 77% of workers in France regularly check their email on smartphones, and 69% of workers do so in Germany.

This increase in mobile use puts a spotlight on how marketers optimise email marketing campaigns, with 22% of respondents saying their biggest annoyance is that the layout is not optimised for their smartphone. Having to scroll beyond one page was an annoyance for 23% of users, and images that didn't load is considered a further irritation for 18% of respondents.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents cite the frequency of emails from brands as the biggest turn-off, followed by poorly-written messages (29%) and offers based on clearly inaccurate profile data (22%). While emojis are now commonplace in peoples' own communications - nearly three quarters (73%) use them in personal emails, and one-third (33%) in the workplace - brands should exercise caution, as 72% of office workers find them to be ineffective or only slightly effective in getting them to read an email offer.

Given that nearly four in 10 said that one way they manage their inbox is to unsubscribe to email newsletters they don't read, marketers need to ensure their email communications evolve with their audiences' preferences.

Platforms beyond email

While email is still the most preferred contact method available to marketers - with an average of 58% of Europeans naming it their preferred way to hear from brands - its popularity is declining, with a 5% decrease relative to 2015 (from 63% last year to 58% this year). Branded apps and text message/SMS registered small increases, driven mainly by those 18-34, direct mail went down in preference from 20% to 16% and social remained consistent relative to last year.

John Watton, marketing director EMEA at Adobe, said: "Despite speculation over its demise, email continues to be one of the main channels we use to communicate. But people's expectations of email, including the way they write and respond to emails, is changing with mobile use - something marketers need to keep top-of-mind as they seek to better engage their customers and prospects.

"With platforms such as branded apps, SMS and email still on the rise amongst so many newer platforms, marketers need to be operating across more channels than ever to reach their customers - a massive opportunity but also a significant challenge. Mobile remains absolutely central; even with familiar formats like email, marketers need to be thinking carefully about mobile optimisation and using data-driven insights to drive the right content to the right consumer."

 

By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

  

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