The results of a consumer email survey suggest that, though many consumers rely on email for shopping news and ideas, consumers are becoming savvier in the management of their inboxes

Return Path’s third annual Holiday Email Survey looks into the responses of 2,400 US and Canadian consumers in November and December 2006.

Influences on opening an email – the biggest influencers behind the decision to read an email are knowledge and trust of the company who sent it, as well as a previous, positive experience with the sender’s emails.

  • Know and trust the sender – 55.9%

  • Opened previous mail and though valuable – 51.2%

  • Subject line – 41.4%

  • Only open normal emails – 32.2%

  • Preview window caught my eye – 21.8%

  • Offer of discount – 17.5%

Subject lines were all important – 41.1% of respondents open an email because the subject line caught their eye, 53.7% read the subject line first, then opened the email.

The best subject lines:

  • State the offer clearly – 55.2%

  • Offer a discount/free postage – 49.6%

  • Include the brand name of the sender – 48.8%

Marketers need to be aware of sending too many unwanted emails. – Too many emails can have a negative effect on brand and cause customers to ignore or unsubscribe from them. The volume of all email, including spam was up by 300 – 500% in Q4 of 2006.

  • 44% said they had received high volumes of emails from companies they know, but weren’t interested in.

  • 37% of respondents said they had received more permission based email than they had expected.

  • 15.9% saying the excess volume was ‘exhausting’. 

Consumers savvier in management of inboxes – Most respondents believed that email levels had risen over the holiday season.

  • 54.5% deleted additional emails without reading them.

  • 24.1% unsubscribed from them

  • 26.6% hit the spam button

Email marketing is clearly effective – though customers are more savvy in dealing with their inboxes, high volumes of respondents clearly appreciated the emails they received – almost half (49%) had taken advantage of several email offers in 2006.

Further Reading:

Email Marketing – Roundtable Briefing, October 2006