There are 19 million ‘ghost’ email accounts that are active but no longer used in the UK, many having been abandoned after being bombarded with too much irrelevant or unwanted email, according to new research.
The Consumer Email Tracker 2016, a study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), revealed that nearly half (45%) of UK consumers have email accounts of this nature.
62% of the 1,239 people surveyed said they have abandoned an email address or would consider doing so if they felt they were receiving too many emails.
Younger people are more likely to have abandoned email addresses for this reason before (58%) compared with older consumers (27%).
68% of respondents agreed with the statement ‘Most of the marketing emails I receive include no content or offers that are of interest to me’, while 84% of consumers said they find less than half of their emails ‘relevant or interesting’.
The research also found that more than two-thirds (68%) of consumers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘Most of the emails from brands/shops/sites I receive include no information of offers that are of interest to me’. Additionally, three quarters of emails (74%) are deleted after one day in any inbox.
In email’s favour, the research highlights 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%), percentage discounts (41%), free samples (35%) and free delivery (35%).
DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri said: “There are several reasons for the large number of ghost accounts. Firstly, consumers are often given email addresses, sometimes wanted, sometimes unwanted, when they sign up to new services such as broadband.
“Secondly, consumers may decide to actively abandon an account, usually because they receive too much unwanted email. Another reason could be that the consumer finds a new, better email service provider.”
“Only 16% of people said that more than half of their emails are ‘relevant or interesting’, a proportion that has halved since 2012. With so many irrelevant or uninteresting emails, it may be that consumers do miss the interesting, relevant ones.”
She added: “Both direct mail and email have their advantages. At the moment mail does seem to have an advantage because the doorstep is relatively uncluttered, so mail is more likely to be seen.
“For emails to stand out, we have a simple recipe: be relevant, be interesting, make emails work for mobile, be multi-channel – use other media, and make a credible offer.”
KJS Print to Mail Services managing director Stuart Speechley encourages his clients to use multi-channel to maximise the effectiveness of a campaign.
He said: “It’s about building brand recognition and using an email campaign hand in hand with a direct mail campaign to follow up one with the other. People are now realising how they can use it better.”
But Inc Direct chief executive Noel Warner believes direct mail is currently the most effective medium.
“Direct mail is more personalised, more relevant and more timely and people are now starting to engage more with it than they were with email,” he said.
“I think direct mail is having a resurgence; people are turning back to it as a trusted medium.”