Survey: Email Annoys Us But Keeps Us Engaged

A new study from Adobe finds that email engagement is holding steady, but a variety of email-related annoyances are taking the fun out of it.

The good news is that email isn’t dead. Far from it, really.

But email can get pretty annoying, according to a recent report from Adobe. In the company’s fourth annual Consumer Email Survey, a full quarter of recipients said they check their email too often and think they should cut down.

The survey of about 1,000 office workers finds that people are more likely to read their work emails (39 percent said they read all of them) than their personal emails (17 percent read them all), but they often feel indifferent toward both types. More than 40 percent of both personal and work emails elicit indifference—and that percentage is higher for women and respondents over 35.

Paradoxically, email is as popular as face-to-face communication, according to the study, but some common elements of email annoy users. One in four respondents said “Not sure if you saw my last email …” is the most annoying phrase in work messages, followed by similar phrases like “Per our conversation” and “Sorry for the double email.”

Speaking of annoyances: The study has a lot to say about marketing emails in particular. It reports that 39 percent of respondents want emails focused less on promotion and more on information, while 27 percent want personalized content. These trends are stronger for women and older recipients.

And asked what they dislike most about reading an email on a smartphone, respondents complained of excessive scrolling (20 percent), waiting for images to load (18 percent), an excess amount of text (17 percent), a small font size (17 percent), and a lack of mobile optimization (16 percent).

That said, those marketing emails help boost awareness. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that marketing messages give them incentives to buy, and 27 percent said such messages improve awareness of an unfamiliar brand.

In comments on Adobe’s CMO website, Kristin Naragon, director of product marketing for Adobe Campaign, said the survey highlights how and why consumers interact with messages—whether for work or in their personal lives.

“The key finding is that brand engagement on email must take place on the consumer’s terms,” she said.

(Gil/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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