39% of UK consumers claim that the marketing emails they receive are less relevant than they were 12 months ago, which suggests that brands need to improve to keep customers engaged.

According to an e-Dialog E-mail Attitudes Report, which surveyed 2,000 UK adults, there is a 34% increase in the number of people who are finding emails irrelevant to them, compared to the 2009 report.

Even of the 13% who didn't feel emails had become less relevant, 17% said this is because they had actively opted out of these emails. 47% of consumers surveyed said the content most relevant to them was special offers, followed by delivery update information (24%).

This suggests that consumers are prepared to take action if they are losing interest in the emails they are receiving. Brands need to respond to this by making it easy to unsubscribe if that's what customers want.

Also, to try and keep customers engaged, providing the option to update preferences and alter things like the frequency of emails they receive is a tactic worth trying. 

Marks & Spencer provides a good example of this with an opt-out page that allows customers to alter the frequency:

'Share this' links in emails

While many emails have a share button, it seems that users rarely use this feature, with the vast majority either not using or not noticing it.

Still, it seems to be a tactic worth trying, as it potentially extends the reach of email marketing campaigns, especially if emails contain compelling content such as special offers.

However, more people forwarded and shared emails than last year also, so the use of this option may increase as consumers become more accustomed to the feature.

Graham Charlton

Published 4 February, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (10)

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Rory Dixon

I think businesses have to look at their actual conversion rates from email marketing; for us, it's in our top three channels for conversion, so we're now looking at how specific email campaigns converted and what elements were used - e.g. copy, graphics - to see how we can build on this in future.

over 8 years ago


Joshua Geake

So many businesses still rely on "Batch and Blast" it's amazing.

Of course the best email marketing techniques will create highly relevant emails without the customer necessarily noticing how relevant they are.

over 8 years ago


Boyke ten Broeke

I agree with Rory.
The problem today is that a lot of company's trust in "a succesfull" concept.
The problem is nowdays that a lot of company's aren't looking at how to improve the clicktrough rate of their newsletters, which call-to-action is better than the other, subjectline testing ect. They just keep on filling the newsletter and hit the send button.

You'd be suprised how many people who are responsible for e-mail marketing for a company, are actually under-educated when it comes to this subject. I work at a company that is hired by a lot of company's to send, build, research ect. newsletters by e-mail. And every day i notice it over and over again that a lot of people that work for companys and send e-mails to their subscribers actually know very very little about what they are doing and what they Could do if they had the knowledge.

over 8 years ago

Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor, eCRM Head of on-line at Revolver Media

One of the biggest problems for the email channel is most companies lack customer insight in to their database.

This means they are unable to clearly identify and segment their data to be in a position to deliver relevant content and offers on a one to one basis and tend to opt for the quick fix,  one shoe fits all solution.

There are several reasons this happens the most common in my experience and one  that has been identified in an earlier post is staffing the other is lack of knowledge.

Staffing because marketing departments tend to be under resourced and lack the training in what is, a fairly complex channel that uses all the tried and tested direct marketing techniques but within the online environment. 

Knowledge as there are 100's of companies offering an email solution.

The bottom line is, relying solely on email as a central channel is a mistake and need to assume a multi-channel dimension, incorporating digital channels - email, SMS, web and mobile - along with the more traditional channels - mail and telephone

 Companies need to be using the right tools for the job by using a solution that is capable of managing multi-channel campaigns.

This enables companies through the reporting system to achieve a higher level of customer insight  and enable effective targeting to ensure they engage with the customers in the way they want to be contacted and to monitor the email marketing pressure on their base.

The result is less spam complaints and unsubscribe rates and lead to higher open and click rates, the sale and a happy customer

over 8 years ago


Rob Grant

I find that the key driver for poor email strategy is the fact it is seen as a "free" Media and that sending 1 or 1m emails is the same price - this drives lack of planning, segmentation and relevance in the email execution.  I commonly ask people to consider what they do differently if an email cost them the same as a DM piece to send - The answer is generally the same.  Start with segmenting by need, understanding what makes a customer tick and delivering communications that are relevant, respectful and rewarding.  Invariably it also means that the volume sent is reduced, the timing is customer driven and reponses and ROI are improved.  It seems that with each new media we invent a new way of carrying out our planning when we should start with the customer and develop the right plans to convince them to behave the way which makes most sense to them and profit for the business.

over 8 years ago


Kyle Webs

Ugh, I hate getting spammed with stupid newsletters, and other promotional crap from companies.

Emarketers and telemarketers can SUCK IT! lol

over 8 years ago


Joe Smith

The reason for being less relevant is that they are spamming the content, If the content and the subject are fine enough then the marketers can avoid the spam filter,

over 8 years ago


Susanne Sassen | Moshi-Toshi E-mailmarketing

Relevance for the subscriber is one of the most important things in e-mailmarketing.

But you dont get relevant content in your e-mailmarketing when you are not segmenting your subscribers in different targetgroups. How do you get people to opt-in AND leave you extra information that you can use for your segmentation:

Putting the opt-in on the delivery form, people might get 'scared'. Cause they just have filled in theyr adress and back account too. The chance they will opt-in will be several times smaller then when you put it in one of the processmails.

over 8 years ago



I don't know if I would say it's becoming less relevant, but perhaps that would be true in some niches. Email marketing is a powerful tool when you are really giving value to your customers. However, with so many lists spammed and misused, I guess it's easy to think that email marketing isn't effective. Keeping in touch with your customers/prospects will continue to take a high priority for many businesses, whether that's via email or another method... doesn't really matter.

over 8 years ago


Herb Jones

Two other factors also come into play - social media usage for your demographic as well as the % of your list using mobile devices. 

I speak from personal experience when I say that as I spend more time on twitter, facebook, linkedin etc I tend to draw that time out of time I would normally spend in email. 

As a fervent Droid user, I also find that I tend to open messages that have great subject lines that render well on mobile devices.  These messages tend to have key concepts or phrases front loaded and as a copywriter I find that I have started limiting the number of characters in our communications for this very reason.

almost 8 years ago

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