Consumers, damned consumers and the DMA's 2017 Consumer Email Report | Consumers, damned consumers and the DMA's 2017 Consumer Email Report | DMA

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Consumers, damned consumers and the DMA's 2017 Consumer Email Report

Anyone who has a professional interest in the reported opinions of consumers will no doubt be familiar with that emotional reaction when a popular vote goes against one’s own political sentiment: “they can’t think that can they? Are they insane?!?

The incredulity can be sharpened to a kind of existential despair when the object of the consumer’s disdain is the very industry you toil at wherein disabusing them of such notions is your job.

Going over the results of the DMA’s 2017 Consumer Email Tracking Report, Marketers could be forgiven for throwing the towel in before 2018 even starts.

As I pointed out at the launch event at the end of November, the stark truth for anyone wanting to flex their marketing muscles is superficially deflating: consumers want less copy not more. They engage tactically rather than emotionally. They are more likely to open if you’re a well known brand and have your opt-in and privacy policies clearly stated. In short, the sort of email program that could be assembled by a team of lawyers and logisticians.

And if that weren’t bad enough, consumers have gotten into the habit of creating multiple accounts both as dumping grounds for temporary sign-ups, overflows for brands they’re indifferent towards and gaming the discount and voucher system – the very thing consumers say they crave more than anything else (60%) and for which marketers are now expected to pander.

So far, so depressing but - to return to the voting analogy - let’s not forget this isn’t every consumer: I’m a consumer after all and barely recognize myself, (I open pretty much everything (1 in 100) of my efficiently pruned inbox (1 in 4) and check it on average (meetings and DMA events allowing), every 10 minutes (1 in 10).

One astonishing – at least within the Email Marketing industry – stat (but one that is repeated without fail, year on year) is that barely half the population even have a work email address – a red flag reminder to any email marketer that the middle-class office bubble they scrutinize the email landscape from is as niche as any other. Teachers, delivery drivers, nurses and most CDE’s won’t respond to email marketing the way you might think or want simply because they lack the same opportunity to and this – in turn – will shape their view of the medium.

Consumers can be cynical about advertising and marketing: they don’t like being sold to or to admit that they can be and the opportunity to offer an anonymous opinion is likely to engender belittlement of this attempted, “engineering of consent” whilst bolstering their rational judgement. Many of the stats here hint at a suspicious consumer landscape where people think they’re being tricked into signing up for a barrage of emails which fail to deliver, yet we already know – from the Benchmarking report – that consumers not only open and click fewer messages than they think they do but unsubscribe from fewer, too. Email fatigue has created a false memory of what they actually do with the medium.

But whether we’re maddened by the lack of a quid pro quo in the consumer’s demand for a return on their (limited) attention or not there are plenty of pointers to suggest creativity can still form a proper bedrock to the Marketer’s approach. The Consumer Tracker is a great place to start for your 2018 email strategy but it isn’t a blueprint. August’s Email Benchmarking report demonstrated 1 in 7 emails being read and 1 in 50 clicked: ironically, the proportion of engagement means chasing less apparently popular email traits as visual stimulation (1 in 5 respondents) or fun content (1 in 7) is a lower risk strategy than if everyone opened and clicked everything.

75% of Consumers say email is done well when it contains useful information or news. 64% say it’s relevance. Get this right, do the basics around personalization and content the consumer demands and there is still room to weave some creative magic to make your emails stand out and boost your brand. And if not then if the year before has taught us anything, there’s no such thing as a wholly rational electorate, or consumer.

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