Most email marketing 'badly targeted', consumers say

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 16, 2011

Most email marketing 'badly targeted', consumers say

More than half (53%) of consumers say almost all direct email they get is irrelevant to them, according to a survey conducted by database marketing firm GI Insight.

The survey also found that, while the marketing industry can certainly improve its email targeting, there are grounds for optimism due to the fact that 73% of respondents also said that they had given a company that they already buy from permission to email them.

Consumers, however, are much less happy with firms they have not purchased from before, with only 51% saying they give permission to companies they have not purchased from to contact them via email.

According to Andy Wood, managing director for GI Insight, "While some firms are devoting more and more effort to personalising and targeting communications, there is still some way to go before the majority of the British public is satisfied with the direct email efforts of the brands they choose to connect with."

For email to work as an effective medium for both the consumer and organisation, drilling down into customer data and using that obtained insight to more accurately target and personalise the email must quickly become the norm. When a consumer receives an email from a brand to which they have entrusted with their email address and other personal information, they rightly expect something more than a mass marketing approach. "They don't expect messages that are totally irrelevant to them, or that are redundant," warned Woods.

A number of significant trends are also uncovered by the report in terms of gender, age, income level/spending power and geography. For example:

  • Women are more likely to see the majority of the corporate email they are sent as relevant than men, with only 50% of female consumers saying nearly all such messages are off-target compared to 55% of male respondents;  
  • Consumers aged 35+ years are more likely to see the vast majority of their email as irrelevant than younger age groups, but the oldest (aged 45+) are more likely to give a firm they buy from permission to email them;  
  • The research also showed that the higher the household income, the better the targeting, with only 22% of the highest earners surveyed saying that most of the email they receive from companies is irrelevant;  
  • Consumers from households in the highest income bracket are far more likely to give firms they buy from permission to contact them by email.

"The negative effects of irrelevant email messaging can be really damaging to the brand in terms of reputation, increasing unsubscribes and even lost customers," concluded Wood. "While this is less of an issue for targeting the older, more affluent consumer, when mistargeted emails are sent to the younger, cash-tight customers, the ability to build a long-term positive relationship is diminished. But consider that they will be the affluent, older consumers of tomorrow, so the impact can be very far-reaching."

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