Stop the email noise: 79% of consumers delete your brand’s emails at least half of the time – even if they love you

Scanning subject lines and giving fake addresses are just some of the lengths consumers will go to avoid emails from brands, but the email address is still the top piece of information they share, and they are open to (personalised) offers as long as you’re not creepy about it.

Eight in 10 consumers admit to ignoring or deleting emails from brands at least half the time or more – even if they are from the brands they love.

As well as simply ignoring or deleting emails, your customers will also use avoidance tactics including unsubscribing, marking for deletion or using an alternative email instead of their main address.

New research from app experience platform Airship as part of its The Mobile Consumer 2023 report surveyed 11,000 consumers globally, with at least two-thirds – sometimes as high as nearly nine in 10 – of those in the 10 countries covered, (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Brazil) saying they will ignore or delete brand emails.

This is despite an email address being the top piece of personal information respondents say they are willing to provide brands for personalised interactions, cited by 85% of the global respondents, up from the 77% found in 2022.

This was ahead of those willing to share their interests that may be relevant to the brand (78%), their name (77%), and their communication preferences (70%).

Email avoidance tactics

More than four in 10 respondents (43%) told Airship that they often unsubscribe from brand emails, while a third mark emails for deletion by scanning who it’s from, with slightly fewer doing the same by scanning subject lines. One in five admit to submitting a secondary email to brands for accounts they rarely check.

Gen Z consumers were more likely than their older counterparts to simply not check emails often (25%, compared to 9% of boomers), use secondary emails (24%, compared to 19% of Generation X respondents) or even anonymous or fake emails.

Generation X or baby boomers favoured more traditional methods of avoidance, including unsubscribing or scanning subject lines or senders, with 55% of boomers saying they will simply unsubscribe, and a third of Generation X saying they will scan senders or subject lines for deletion, compared to a quarter of Gen Z.

Airship pointed to the need for value when communicating with customers, but also the technology making it easier for consumers to avoid handing over their addresses or receive emails from brands – and highlighting implications for data quality and hygiene.

Examples include Apple’s features within its Safari and Cloud+ apps that hide IP addresses to stop digital activity being embedded into a user’s profile, while Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from detecting whether a user actively opened an email or not. Other providers allow consumers to simply remove senders without actively unsubscribing.

Information sharing

Gen Z were more wary of sharing their email address than older consumers, but even then it was still the top piece of personal information they were willing to provide, at 82%.

Alongside email, interests and names, the survey’s respondents were also found to be likely to share information such as demographic information (62%), mobile numbers (60%) and their social values (58%).

But less than half (46%) said they were willing to share what they’ve browsed across unrelated websites or apps and 44% were happy to share information from their social profiles. Even fewer (43%) were happy to share their real-world location.

Making personalisation ‘personal’ and ‘valuable’

The research also found that the top three types of personalisation consumers found useful in communications were:

  • Recommendations or offers based on past behaviour or purchases (41%);
  • Personalisation based on preferences supplied to brands (40%); and
  • Content targeted to their current location (34%).

But predictions based on ‘everything the brand knows about them’ was the lowest ranking of all types of personalisation across all the countries in the research bar Singapore, indicating, according to Airship that “consumers want experiences personalised to them, but basic information doesn’t go far enough and advanced methods walk a fine line between being helpful and creepy”.

Thomas Butta, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Airship, said: “Growing data privacy regulations and advancements from Apple and Android are speeding brands towards a customer-first future, where transparency and control make it easier than ever for customers to shut down brands that aren’t meeting their needs. This is a seismic shift for many, compounded by both constantly upleveling customer experience expectations and the impending demise of third-party data.”