Today we released our annual survey of email usage in Europe, examining consumers’ relationship with email and how email fits in the growing mix of digital and social channels becoming available to marketers.
And the study shows that our relationship with email remains healthy indeed: Despite all the predictions of email’s demise in the face of social media, it continues to be one of the main channels we use to communicate. There is no apparent let-down in email use in Europe: Office workers in the region spend over a third of their waking day reading, writing and replying to work and personal emails. A staggering nine in ten (88%) check their personal email accounts while at work, and 79% engage with work-email outside of office hours. 61% of those surveyed read emails while on holiday, while 59% admit to reading their emails when watching TV.
Unsurprisingly, the use of smartphones as a means of consuming email continues to grow: Three quarters (74%) of Europeans now regularly check emails using a smartphone. In the UK in particular, smartphones have overtaken desktops as the preferred method of checking emails, with 79% of users preferring it. 77% of workers in France regularly check their email on smartphones, and 69% of workers do so in Germany.
Linked to this is another interesting trend: The format and style of emails seems to be evolving in conjunction with growing smartphone use. Over one-third (36%) of European office workers observe a trend toward less formal emails, and 30% think that emails are getting shorter. We need to look at the longer-term variations in the data to come to any firmer conclusions, but these are trends that are very likely influenced by mobile.
The increase in mobile use puts an obvious spotlight on how marketers are optimizing their email marketing campaigns. 22% of respondents say that their biggest annoyance when it comes to email marketing is with message layouts that are not properly optimized for mobile. Having to scroll beyond one page of information is also considered an annoyance by one in five users. Nearly half (46%) of respondents cite high frequency of emails from brands as the biggest turn-off, followed by poorly-written messages (29%) and offers based on erroneous profile data (22%).
And another interesting, rather quirkier finding of the study: As part of making emails more informal, people are using emojis in their communications more than ever – nearly three quarters (73%) use them in personal emails, and one-third (33%) in the workplace. But brands should exercise caution here, as 72% of office workers find emojis to be ineffective or only slightly effective in getting them to read an email offer by a brand.
So plenty for marketers to keep in mind as they seek to better engage their customers and prospects through email campaigns. Alongside emails, channels like branded apps and SMS are still on the rise in amongst the many social platforms that keep coming onto the scene. Clearly, marketers need to be operating across more channels than ever to reach their customers – a massive opportunity but also a significant challenge. And mobile remains absolutely fundamental: Even with familiar formats like email, marketers need to be thinking carefully about mobile optimization and using data-driven insights to drive the right content to the right consumer.