Subject: Email, We Just Can’t Get Enough

There’s an incredible technology available to marketers for reaching millennials where they work, play, eat, sleep and shop. It’s not a new device, app or cutting-edge social network. Would it surprise you to learn that it’s email?

The Adobe Campaign team recently surveyed more than 400 US-based white collar workers, 18 and older, about their use of email; and the findings challenge conventional views of email as a tired, over-saturated medium for engaging consumers. And the notion that millennials spend all their time on social networks or texting? The truth is much more complicated.

We found that Americans are practically addicted to email, checking it around the clock no matter where they are or what they’re doing. In fact, more than half of millennials check email from the bathroom! On average, survey respondents report using email six hours a day, or 30+ hours a week. Nine of 10 respondents say they check personal email at work and work email from home. More than one third report having multiple personal accounts.

Email is a cornerstone of workplace culture as well as a powerful tool for productivity and collaboration — thirty-five percent say they prefer communicating with colleagues via email, putting it on par with face-to-face collaboration. But, the pervasiveness of email across all life activities is even more striking. We found that outside of work, Americans most commonly check their email while watching TV (70%), from bed (52%), on vacation (50%), while on the phone (43%), from the bathroom (42%) and even—most dangerously—while driving (18%).

As for those coveted millennials? They’ve doubled-down on email, both at work and at home. We found that millennials are more mobile and more frequent users of email than any other age group:

  • Millennials are more likely to check work email outside of normal work hours;
  • One third are comfortable using emojis to communicate with a direct manager or senior executive;
  • 88% use a smart phone to check email;
  • Millennials are also more likely than any other age group to check email from bed (70%), from the bathroom (57%) or while driving (27%).

We also uncovered a distinct love-hate relationship with email. Although Americans are using email more than ever, many also experience email fatigue. Twenty-four percent of respondents believe they check email “way too much.” Thirty-four percent report having had to create a new email address due to an overwhelming amount of spam. Most tellingly, four out of ten report going on self-imposed ‘email detox’ programs, avoiding their inboxes for an average of five days.

This suggests marketers should re-invest in email as part of a coordinated cross-channel strategy. In the case of email campaigns, less is often more; relentlessly pressing send on massive lists only adds to consumer email fatigue. Instead, marketers should revisit their tired tactics and consider how to make email more mobile friendly, sent at a more timely moment, or made more dynamic and contextually relevant.

Becoming mobile friendly means building complete campaigns with a mobile-first mentality. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed find it annoying to have to scroll excessively to read an email, while twenty-four percent are turned off when layouts are not optimized for mobile. For email marketing to stand out requires more than responsive design, it means ensuring all campaign assets are optimized for mobile — visual, concise, and quick loading — to ensure a seamless experience from email to check out.

There’s tremendous opportunity for marketers who perfect their email tactics.  Fifty-eight percent of our respondents say that email is their preferred way to be contacted by a brand; yet more than a third say they want fewer repetitive emails from the brands they have relationships with. They also want the content of email offers to be less annoying and intrusive. This means marketers need to make better use of personally identifiable information and contextual information about the customer to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right email address.

For example, do marketers know their customer as an email address? Or do they know their customer as a person with three email addresses — one for work, one for personal life and one for their online persona in an Internet community like Tumblr or Reddit? Is the marketer’s email service provider blasting all those inboxes multiple times a week, or do they know how to target each address based on the customer’s unique online behavior? Are they able to personalize the message with contextual data, such as location and weather?

The rewards for getting it right — for truly knowing customers and delivering value at the right time — are tremendous. We know from data on actual site visits and conversions tracked within the Adobe Digital Index that loyal visitors who spend more and convert at higher rates are twice as likely to come from email than from the average channel.

With the right planning, the right tools and the right understanding of their customers, marketers can overcome the love-hate relationship and make email the most powerful part of their campaign.

Learn more about Adobe Campaign.