A email app icon on a smartphone.

Almost one third (31%) of consumers check their emails two to five times per day, with 77% checking them at least once.

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This is one of the key findings from the 2022 Global Messaging Engagement Report by customer communcations platform Twilio SendGrid

Consumers’ communication preferences are constantly changing as their relationships with technology evolve. While tried-and-true channels like email have remained a reliable way to get in front of customers and prospects, newer channels – such as social media and webchat – are increasingly winning over recipients with convenience. Brands need to pay attention to these ever-changing user preferences to meet customers where they are and win their loyalty for life, according to Twilio SendGrid.

Across the world, email is still consumers’ preferred method of communicating with brands they love. In fact, 18% of all global respondents listed it as one of the top three channels they engage with most often. That should come as no surprise as checking email inboxes is a deeply ingrained daily habit for most consumers.

In the UK, SMS skepticism remains. While UK recipients deem email less invasive than text messages, they unanimously requested more tailored, shorter emails to prompt engagement and value and to help keep their inboxes manageable. Here is a closer look at how UK consumers approach branded communications and how your brand can cater to these preferences.

  1. Recipients are still skeptical of SMS

Like other global recipients, UK consumers find branded text messaging to be intrusive on a channel they prefer to reserve for personal use. Many actively avoid giving out their phone numbers and prefer receiving alerts/communications from companies via email only to avoid being bombarded or spammed.

In the 2020 report, 29% of UK recipients said they seldom or never interacted with SMS messages, while that number increased to 35% in this year’s survey. Today, only 17% say they frequently or very frequently interact with branded texts.

The only expectations of this preference are if the SMS/MMS messages contain timely, important information, such as:

A confirmation of an appointment or booking
A purchase dispatch or delivery notification
A security code or password reminder

Still, using texting as a form of marketing or a promotional tool is a no-go for most UK respondents.

  1. Brands get more opens with offers and promotions

UK recipients receive a high volume of email each day, so they want to ensure the messages that do land in their inbox are worthy of their time and attention. An impressive 74% of respondents said an offer or promotion is strongly or somewhat influential in convincing them to open an email. Although 79% saying it would have the same influence on their decision to click a link.

What makes an offer compelling enough to convince consumers to open or click on an email? It boasts significant reductions of more than 25% off. Even then, pushing the same messaging too often undermines any sense of exclusivity or must-have mindset. The time-limited discounts must be genuine, said UK consumers, and shouldn’t continue or reappear a couple of days later or the following week.

  1. Consumers are annoyed by frequent, repetitive, or lengthy emails

High frequency, repetitive, or lengthy emails are quickly dismissed by UK consumers, as are those with old-fashioned layouts or a random combination of topics. UK consumers say they dislike feeling pressured, bored or confused and cannot be bothered to take the time to read these messages, so they delete them or try to unsubscribe. They get especially upset when brands send follow-up SMS/MMS messages containing the same information.

Additionally, over-personalisation can rub recipients the wrong way, too. UK consumers said they are uncomfortable when companies they do not have a relationship with use their first names, imply they know their likes/dislikes, or even send them location-specific updates. For example, “There’s an event happening just 2 miles from your home.” Most generally also dislike the idea of companies keeping tabs on which emails they do and do not open or referencing their purchase behaviour too specifically. For example, “You haven’t bought anything since X date.” So be sure to tread lightly with your personalisation tactics, especially with subscribers new to your brand.

  1. Businesses over-sending is a big no-no

The frequency of emails seems to have escalated during the pandemic – only reinforced by the increase in online shopping and the prevalence of data-sharing by companies. Younger generations, in particular, tend to have a greater tolerance for promotional emails as they rely on sales to make purchases on a budget, with one per day from known brands being fine. For older generations, however, the ideal frequency varies from one or two a week to once every few months, especially on large ticket items or infrequent purchases (such as major appliances, furniture, seasonal/holiday items).

Bombarding UK recipients with emails is a surefire way to annoy them. In fact, 64% of all UK respondents admitted they would unsubscribe if a company emailed them daily. But older generations were far less likely to unsubscribe no matter how many emails they received. A noteworthy 20% of Gen Xers and 22% of baby boomers said no specific number of emails a week would push them to opt out of receiving brand communications.

Even still, be mindful of how often you reach out to your audience. Sending too many emails can cause them to ignore your messages, mark them as spam, or unsubscribe. If you are determined to maintain a high volume of email sends, opt for shorter emails over longer ones, but only if offering new or interesting info. When you space out promotional offers, the more anticipated and exclusive the promotional offers become.

  1. Simple surveys can help fine-tune your email program

When we asked if UK recipients would be willing to share more personal info with brands if it meant more personalised emails, 26% said yes, 28% said no, and 46% said they were unsure. But when we followed up in our interviews, most shared they would be happy to complete a simple survey for their favourite companies to help them better tailor emails, especially if it came with incentives.

What should these surveys contain? UK customers felt surveys should be limited to five pertinent questions and take no longer than five minutes of their time to complete. They also said they would be open to sharing limited information about their personal preferences, hobbies, and socio-demographic info if everything was optional. Additionally, many wanted the option to update their preferences whenever they wanted without being prompted to do so too frequently.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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