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“I want to do business with a company that treats emailing me as a privilege, not a transaction”. – Andrea Mignolo

Despite being one of the oldest and traditional forms of communication, emails continue to form a big and important part of information exchange between companies and customers. A report shows that around 205 billion emails are sent out each day, and this is because at least 72% of adult customers in the US alone state their preference as email for communicating with a company. About 91% customers say that they would want a company to send out promotional emails to them. Companies are more than happy to oblige and communicate using emails, with 73% of them agreeing that emails form a central part of their customer-centric marketing and 25% of such companies, rate emails as their top channel for maximized ROI. However, several companies misuse emails to an extent that it makes customers angry, which is the main reason for why customers trash emails from companies.

Customers trash emails at a rapid pace, and ignore the efforts of several brands trying to engage with them. It therefore means that for companies to ensure that their emails are opened and read, rather than trashed, they would need to understand why customers would read some and ignore others. The most important and urgent issue at hand is that today the attention span of customers has become shorter than ever before – dropping by about 4 seconds in the last some years. Today, reports reveal, that the average attention span of customers is around 8 seconds! The first step to knowing why customers trash emails is gaining an understanding of their short attention span, and what customers would want to see in that short time window.

Today companies are competing with a lot more and fiercer competition, and hence the rush to increase business and gain more customers has become apparent in their approach. Despite the fact that customers today expect customization, some companies continue with the ‘umbrella’ approach, even when sending emails. Putting together a single message and sending it off to the entire customer base would never resonate with the varying personalities of customers, which in turn would be the underlying reason for why customers trash emails. Given that customers are bombarded with information all the time, and several companies vie for their attention, they constantly deal with messages, several of which have no relevance and meaning to their everyday lives, business, or preferences. Imagine sending an email about baby food to a senior citizen – how is such information relevant to the particular customer. Soon enough the customer would become irate enough to unsubscribe from a company and never look back.

Research and data shows that within the US alone, at least two-thirds of customers older than 15 years feel encouraged to buy from a company after reading a well-written branding message via email. This means that some companies are doing a swell job of writing emails and subject lines since their emails are not only opened, but are also read and lead to subsequent positive action. What are these companies doing such that customers trash emails of other companies and not the ones they send out?

The sources of data are growing and technology is getting better with each passing day, making it easier for everyone to read and analyse more information than ever before. Despite knowledge at their disposal and access to information is readily available, companies repeatedly make the mistake of not utilizing the data to their advantage. The fact is that companies must know if customers trash emails or are only reading them without taking action. This knowledge would enable companies to adjust their strategy to do more of what works and cut out what seems to ‘fall flat’. Another important aspect that would contribute towards the reasons that customers trash emails, is bad timing. Timing is essential when sending emails to customers. Research shows that most emails are opened late in the evening and some even before midnight, and in order to increase reads and conversions, it would be the responsibility of a company to determine when the target audience reads and responds to emails, and plan delivery of emails during those specific times of the day.

Another top reason for why customers trash emails (or read them) would be the subject line. For a customer who receives several emails in a day, the decision to read or trash them does depend a lot on the subject title – a catchy one would get their attention, while dull boring ones would certainly get dumped. Experts recommend using about fifty characters in the subject line while even some shorter ones are able to grab attention given they would be appealing. The reason so much importance must be given to subject lines is they are the ‘compelling reason’ for customers to open and read the content. Customers trash emails when the subject lines are boring and lack lustre, and fail to arouse their curiosity to know the message a company would want to convey. Personalized subject lines grab the attention at least 14% times more than generic ones.

Customers trash emails when they do not perceive any level of personalization and interest on the part of the company. On the other hand, emails with subject lines that make reference to insights from customers or a previous interaction a customer may have had with the company, are more likely to be read and followed with action.

Companies are constantly thinking of new ways to entice customers, and to do so, spend a lot of time framing the messages. In their eagerness to get the words right, they often overlook the formatting, design, and layout of their messages. Confusing graphics, obsolete fonts, and jarring colour palettes can easily put customers off, since these would not be acceptable in professional emails, especially ones to customers trying to gain their business. Incorporating the appropriate design, colours, and language into emails can only be done when a company respects and understands its target audience – customers trash emails when they do not perceive such respect and importance.

As mentioned, content is what would make or break a marketing email campaign. Even the most well-crafted messages would fail to convert, and in fact could serve to annoy customers if the messages are sent to the wrong set of customers. Segmenting ones customer base would be essential to ensure that the relevant customers get the message, and doing so can increase revenue for a company by about 760% – as revealed by research.

Since emails are a part of the multi-channel world we live in today, it would be prudent for a company to use customer data judiciously and send out emails based on the real time activities and preferences of customers, callers, and website visitors. Customers are usually willing to share personal information and data, but they need assurance that companies would use it to enhance their overall experience they have with a company. Customers trash emails and ignore company communication when they do not believe that their interests are in the forefront. Of course, there are no guarantees that using the correct email tactics and marketing techniques would prevent customers from trashing emails, or that whatever works for a company today, would work tomorrow as well. To ensure that you get across to your customers and keep them interested in your company, consistent efforts for successful multi-channel experiences would be required. Do customers trash emails from your company or are you able to gain optimum conversions?

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