Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

19 million ‘ghost’ email accounts in the UK

Today, the DMA released its Consumer Email Tracker 2016 research, sponsored by dotmailer, revealing that almost half (45%) of consumers have ‘ghost’ email accounts that are active but no longer used, which translates to more than 19 million of these ‘ghost’ accounts in the UK alone. 62% of those surveyed said they have abandoned an email address or would consider doing so if they felt they were receiving too many emails, with younger people more likely to have abandoned email addresses for this reason before (58%) compared to older consumers (27%).

With 68% of consumers agreeing with the statement, ‘Most of the marketing emails I receive include no content or offers that are of interest to me’, and 84% of consumers finding less than half of their emails ‘interesting or relevant’, brands and their agencies must work harder to make emails worthwhile for consumers. The large number of ghost accounts in circulation shows the potential consequences of too many irrelevant messages.

The research also shows an increase in consumers’ willingness to click through and buy from an email, up to 65% of respondents from 58% in last year’s study. The top reasons for consumers to share their email details with brands are money off discounts (45% of those surveyed), % discounts (41%), free samples (35%), and free delivery (35%).

According to the study, shoppers are using their smartphones to access email more for every measure compared to last year. For example, open rates have increased from 25% to 40%; one third (31%) said they used smartphones as the main device to click through and buy from an email. For younger people, including ‘Millennials’, the smartphone is the primary device for accessing emails, overtaking desktop use which is the preferred device for older consumers.

Rachel Aldighieri, MD of the DMA, said, “Email is not just a popular channel for marketers to build and maintain relationships with prospects and customers, it is also the channel consumers prefer to receive brand communications through. On top of that, email addresses are the key to social media accounts, apps, web accounts and therefore the key to the ‘single customer view’ that marketers are so keen to develop. Our annual snapshot is just that – a glimpse at the way consumers use email today. These behaviours are evolving as email and marketing evolve but to make sure your messages reach your audience and have impact, then remember to always be interesting, offer real benefits, be mobile-ready, be multichannel and be creative.”

Skip Fidura, Client Services Director at dotmailer and Chair of the DMA’s Responsible Marketing Committee, said: “Year after year we hear that email is dead and year after year the stats show that email is going from strength to strength. That said, this report should resonate as our customers are launching a shot across our bow. Some of the stats in this year’s tracker report are clear. We are not delivering on our promise of sending targeted relevant messages in all cases. In a bid to push out more content and play a numbers game, brands appear to be alienating their customers. It is time for brands to truly understand their customers’ wants and needs, and then leverage the potential of the technologies available to them.”

While almost half (48%) of consumers say they receive messages from between six and 20 brands, two-thirds (68%) of consumers ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement ‘Most of the emails from brands/shops/site I receive include no information of offers that are of interest to me’. In addition, three quarters of emails (74%) are deleted after one day in any inbox.

Jenna Tiffany, DMA email council research hub chair and lead digital marketing strategist at Communicator said, “What is clear from this report is that consumers still love email and are still actively engaging with it. But two areas for email marketers to take away this year are: the value exchange between brand and consumer is crucial, and sending relevant email content is still important to consumers.”

Marcus Gearey, Chair of the DMA Email benchmarking hub and Analytics manager at Zeta Global, adds: “Email has been transformed and as a medium continues to do so at bewildering speed. Yet with this amazing power comes amazing responsibility. The good news is email is still the dominant, most effective form to talk to consumers. They like it, (mostly) trust it and more importantly buy stuff using it.”

To read more about the DMA’s Consumer email tracking study 2016, including the full report, visit: