The 2017 DMA Consumer Tracker Report: Key Takeaways

Posted by Guy Hanson on

The DMA email council (which I chair!) recently published its 2017 Consumer Email Tracker report, which analyses consumers’ attitudes towards email marketing practices. As always, the report revealed a number valuable insights into what brands are doing right – and more importantly, what they are doing wrong – in the eyes of the consumers who receive these emails. In this blog, I have highlighted some of the most interesting takeaways from the report.

Firstly, the report revealed that, despite the fact that more and more consumers are moving to the web for shopping, socialising, and more, email still remains the main touchpoint between brands and their consumers. In fact, the email address has proven to be a relatively stable point in a rapidly expanding online world, with 83 percent of consumers reporting that their first email address is still the one they use most.

Understanding digital body language is key
In the ‘Sponsor’s Perspective’ page there is a comment that ‘brands that are failing to respond to their customers’ digital body language are driving consumers to become flippant with email accounts’. The use of the phrase ‘digital body language’ is spot on. Consumers will reveal—both positively and negatively—how they feel about the emails they are receiving, and it’s up to email marketers to recognize and understand this behavior so they can adapt their strategies accordingly.

Interestingly, the number who have just one email address has actually increased by four percent over the last year. This may be because consumers are becoming more familiar with tabbed inboxes like those you see with Gmail and Microsoft accounts, so separate addresses become less of a requirement.

For me, a startling learning was that the most important factor in persuading a consumer to open an email is “The email is coming from a brand I recognize” (49 percent), almost twice the number of responses to the next most important factor “the subject line” (26 percent). Email marketers spend huge amounts of time and money trying to craft perfect subject lines, but should probably be focusing far more effort on ensuring they are driving recognition.

According to the report, consumers like marketing emails that include useful information, contain offers, and are clear and concise. Unsurprisingly, 64 percent of consumers questioned thought that brands ‘doing email well’ were the ones that send relevant messages. Worryingly, only one in five marketing emails are deemed relevant by consumers, despite this often being a key goal for marketers. This should be a wakeup call to start producing content that resonates more effectively with the reader.

GDPR will be welcomed by consumers
One of the most notable changes since 2016 relates to the number signing up for marketing emails. This year, 34 percent of consumers claimed that they ‘rarely’ sign up for marketing emails in comparison to 11 percent in 2016. Furthermore, only two percent say they always sign up for emails, which is a huge drop from 22 percent that claimed they did last year. On the flip side, over two in five subscribers (43 percent) regularly “wonder how brands/shops/sites got my email address?” (another 38 percent “sometimes” wonder?).  So, could it be that consumers have become more aware of their data privacy?

Certainly, the report revealed that consumers are more likely to consider brands to be using personal data more ethically if subscribers are allowed to modify their preferences, if there is a strong level of trust between the brand and consumer, and if there is a transparent and easily accessible privacy policy. Email preference modification and a clear privacy policy are two tenets that GDPR will enshrine into law, and trust will be a result of this. GDPR will surely be a welcome change for consumers in 2018.

The good news is that the report supports the fact that email is still a key communication channel for marketers. In fact, 99 percent of consumers say they check their personal inbox every day, providing brands with a huge audience to be tapped into. More good news is that almost three in five subscribers will regularly (once a week or more) check their spam/junk folders for missing emails. What’s crucial, however, is that they are targeted with relevant, timely, and tailored emails that reflect the consumer’s behavior, needs, and interests. If marketers get this right, the opportunities to engage with consumers are huge.

The full report can be found here: https://dma.org.uk/research/consumer-email-tracker-2017


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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.

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