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Survey: Email Is Evolving And Time Spent With It Growing

Email usage is on the rise, driven primarily by consumers’ shift to mobile, according to a new study by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI). At the same time, email is evolving: It’s less formal in a world that is moving toward texting and emojis and in which smartphones are the preferred device for accessing email.

According to the “Adobe Email Survey 2016,” which surveyed over 1,000 white-collar Americans, time spent with email is up 17% year over year (YoY). Millennials—consumers ages 18 to 34—spend the most time with email of any age group and rely primarily on their smartphones (90%) to do so. In fact, almost 50% of Millennials admitted to checking their email while still in bed in the morning. 

“I think the rise in email consumption has a lot to do with the fact that people are now relying on their smartphones more,” said Ryan Dietzen, senior market analyst at ADI. “Smartphones make email all the more accessible. And Millennials, especially, can’t resist the smartphone screen telling them something has just come in from a colleague or a friend.”

The survey found that smartphones have overtaken computers for checking email. People identifying smartphones as their primary device to check work email grew 21% YoY.

The research found that workers spend an average of  7.4 hours per weekday on email. Just over four hours are spent checking work-related email and 3.3 hours checking personal email, indicating an “always-on” email culture. That’s a 6% increase in the amount of time spent checking personal email and a 28% increase YoY in time spent checking work email.

“People are more and more engaged with email and are consistently turning to it throughout the day,” Dietzen said. “That means marketers can consistently reach us via email. And consumers still clearly prefer to receive marketing offers via email.” According to the survey, 49% of respondents said they prefer email marketing communications, followed by direct mail (22%).

Respondents also said that less than 25% of emails are interesting enough to open, indicating that marketers need to up their game. Top consumer issues with marketing emails are frequency, quality of writing, and offers based on incorrect profile data.

In addition, the study probed users about how their use of email is changing. Thirty percent of respondents said they see a trend toward emails getting shorter. Millennials were most likely to see a trend toward brevity (38%). Seventy-two percent said they have used an emoji in a personal email, and 42% have used them in work emails. Also, 24% said that response time of the recipient is getting shorter. Last, 69% said that texting has had at least some impact on how they communicate via email.

Where do consumers usually check email? Almost everywhere, the study found. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they have checked email while watching TV or a movie, on vacation (53%), in the bathroom (45%), and while on the phone (44%). Also, 17% admitted checking while driving.

“They’re checking constantly. They’re checking while they’re having face-to-face conversations. They’re checking during meals,” Dietzen said. “For marketers, that means the always-on consumer. There’s not going to be a time when they’re not reachable by email.”

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