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More than 11 billion emails are sitting unopened in British inboxes – and more than half are from brands

New research has revealed that the average Brit has 260 unopened emails in his or her inbox, totalling more than 11 billion across the country – and the majority of them are from brands.

The Webtrends research, which canvassed 2,000 Britons aged 18 and over, found that 56 per cent of those unopened emails are from brands that the respondents signed up to receive communications from, while 36 per cent are genuine spam and 7 per cent are from friends and family.

John Fleming, Webtrends Marketing Director EMEA & APAC, says: “One of the key reasons Brits are ignoring these emails is irrelevancy. While they’ve signed up to receive updates from brands, they’re self-selecting which ones they actually read and only opening the emails they find relevant.

“This ‘brand spam’ is also driving Brits barmy – in fact, survey respondents said it’s the most annoying thing a brand can do when it comes to communications, even worse than sending texts in the middle of the night. 84 per cent of Brits say irrelevant brand spam drives them mad,” he continues.

So how can brands ensure their costly marketing campaigns don’t go to waste? Get personal.

Fleming says: “Of the 20 per cent of Brits who never open brand emails, 60 per cent say they would be more likely to open them if the subject line contained information that was personalised to them. Likewise, of the 65 per cent of people who sometimes or often open brand emails, 82 per cent would be more likely to open them if the subject line contained personalised information.”

“It’s not just email,” Fleming adds. “New technologies offer businesses the opportunity to truly personalise the customer experience across a wide range of channels, such as website optimisation and the use of data to enhance in-store experiences.

“Based on a user’s behaviour, and the cumulative behaviour of others, marketers can change what people see on a website, even on-the-fly and even if they don’t know who the user is. They can also use data to improve the in-store shopping experience through contextual personalisation – combining known online data with real-time information and location-based beacons technology to deliver in-the-moment special offers and enhanced services to customers.

“We’ll start to see many more businesses starting to do this and the potential is huge, but brands will need to take care. While marketers are excited by what the new frontier of contextual personalisation and location marketing offers, to many consumers, the idea sounds intimidating and invasive.

“As always, it’s all about the implementation. Our research reveals that just 19 per cent of Britons say they don’t respond more positively when they receive personalised content from brands. It will be important that businesses communicate with people in a way that doesn’t simply bombard them with annoying or unwanted messages, but instead proposes recommendations, offers and experiences tailored to their wants and likes.”

Importance of personalisation
● 44 per cent of Britons say they find personalised recommendations useful
● Brits are most likely to respond positively to brand communications or webpages that:
o Deliver real time information relating to their interests (51 per cent)
o Include info or offers relating to previous purchases (44 per cent)
o Include info or offers relevant to their location (37 per cent)
● Personalisation matters when it comes to social media, too:
o 40 per cent of consumers say they respond positively to sponsored content that is relevant to their interests
o 21 per cent say they respond positively to content that is relevant to what they’ve recently been browsing

Brits are more likely to open emails from:
o Retail brands (55 per cent)
o Hobbies and interests / leisure (42 per cent)
o Travel (33 per cent)
o Financial services / banks (27 per cent)
o Charities (12 per cent)
o Media organisations (10 per cent)

The main reasons Brits unsubscribe from brand communications are:
• Get too many emails – 48 per cent
• They’re not relevant – 36 per cent
• Bad real-life experience with the brand – 11 per cent

Who are the UK’s worst email openers?
• Men are slightly worse offenders than women with an average 268 unopened emails vs 253 for women.
• 25-34 year olds are the most likely not to open emails – an average of 352 compared to just 79 for people aged 55 and over.
• Regional top 10:
1. Liverpool – an average of 447 unopened emails per person
2. London – 392
3. Swansea – 348
4. Birmingham – 331
5. Edinburgh – 315
6. Cambridge – 307
7. Oxford – 269
8. Cardiff – 246
9. Newcastle – 241
10. Sheffield – 237
o Wolverhampton has the lowest total with just 87 unopened emails

To learn more about the latest personalisation trends, please see the Webtrends Contextual Personalisation whitepaper here.


EDITOR’S NOTE: 2,000 British consumers aged 18 and over were surveyed in this research, which was undertaken independently for Webtrends by OnePoll in Q2 2014. The Office for National Statistics estimates there were 44.6 million British internet users in Q1 2014.

Published on: 10:20AM on 4th September 2014