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I n 2021, Pathwire, a leading provider of email APIs and email marketing solutions, released a study titled How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed Emailing. The survey focused on email engagement (during the pandemic) of brand-email recipients and the strategies of brand-email senders. More than 2,000 email users were surveyed to discover how they have interacted with emails during the pandemic and what they value in brand communications, while 760 brands were surveyed on their email marketing strategies during the pandemic.

Following is a selection of interesting takeaways from the report.

Q: When talking about “personal email addresses,” how many are we talking about?

Of respondents, 72.4% have at least two email addresses, with 31.7% having a dedicated email address specifically for promotions, discounts, and other general B2C emails.

Q: How many times per day do you check your personal email?

According to the survey, 63% of users check their email more than once a day, and up to 25% do it more than five times a day. Results showed 67.5% of users check the spam folder at least once a week, and nearly 40% check it every day.

Q: When do recipients check their inbox?

When I wake up — 27.2%

In the morning — 42.5%

Around lunchtime — 31.1%

In the afternoon — 32.3%

In the evening — 34.3%

Before I go to bed — 19.4%

Q: What do email recipients value the most in brand emails?

#1 — Personalized recommendations

#2 — Deals and special offers

#3 — Useful content (posts, videos, infographics)

#4 — The tone of the email/brand personality

#5 — Design of the email

Of consumers surveyed, 88.7% said that it’s important to recognize the sender when it comes to deciding whether to open an email.

Results showed 83.3% of users said that a message that suggests the email content is personalized to their interests is a “very important” factor in determining whether to open the email. This was of higher value to recipients than discounts (38.4%) and time-sensitive offers (32.9%).

Of the brands surveyed, 49.7% said they have changed their email strategy due to the pandemic.

Of responding brands, 55.5% said they’ve emailed their customers more since the start of the pandemic.

Q: Has the pandemic affected the brand’s email open rates?

In the study, 77.5% of brands said the pandemic hasn’t had a negative impact on their open rates, and 40% of brands said their open rates have increased during the pandemic.

Q: What about click-through rates?

Of brand respondents, 38.2% say click-through rates have increased during the pandemic period.

Q: Life and social attitudes during COVID-19 have had an impact on brand communications. Over the past year, have you (as a brand) adapted your email content in any of the following ways?

35.2% — Increased focus on brand’s mission and values

23.5% — Showcased internal initiatives

25.6% — Highlighted social and local initiatives

25.3% — Increased promotions and discounts

Q: Over the past year, has your brand adopted any of the following strategies for the first time to make your emails more relevant?

17.3% — Segmentation based on location

18.9% — Segmentation based on users’ activity on your website or app

24.1% — Customization of the email content through simple personalization

8.8%  — Complex personalization through dynamic content blocks or templating language

Key Takeaway: The biggest overall changes made to email strategies were adding simple email customization (24.1%) and introducing segmentation based on engagement (18.9%). Surprisingly noteworthy was the lack of complex personalization and content customization, which directly conflicts with the findings of Pathwire’s survey—83.3% of email recipients said that whether an email appeared to be personalized to their interest was an important factor in deciding to open it.

Nearly 40% of brands have simplified their emails to increase authenticity, and nearly one-third have adapted their tone to become more human.

5 Email Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2022

  1. Data privacy—changes in the data marketers can collect and use to leverage for audience targeting
  2. Focus on segmentation and personalization in campaigns
  3. Less focus on email open rates, higher focus on trackable metrics tied to response actions taken by the recipient (click-through rates, etc.)
  4. Testing the use of AI tools to write subject lines, email content, and CTAs based on performance data
  5. Enhanced use of interactive tools such as polls, surveys, games, and forms that can be engaged outside of the original email

Following is a selection of interesting takeaways from the report.

This article originally appeared in BEYOND PRINT as syndicated content and is subject to copyright protections. All rights reserved. Image(s) used under license from Shutterstock.