Adobe Study Finds Email Is An Addiction


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We all complain about it, threaten to shut it down and not look at it for it consumes countless hours with questionable productivity benefits.  I’m talking about our electronic tether to and the most convenient form of social escapism from the real, physical world – email.

I have this game I play once a week, build a storyline by stringing together the headings of spam emails.  Is it the story about beautiful Russian women fighting to save the world from coming to an end because a special scientist has been jailed for revealing NASA’s secret for curing hearing loss and is being tortured by certain physical non-performance?  Or is the story about how to spice up live with an extra-marital affair? Wait, that story is actually taken byJosh Duggars and the Ashley Madison website.

Not good use of my time you’re saying.  For a white collar worker it’s entertaining while standing in the TSA line.  We are addicted to email.

Adobe Systems released the results from their latest email survey that included 400 interviews with USA white collar workers and Adobe’s Digital Index (ADI) which analyzed 17 billion visits coming from email. The study highlights are:

  • Americans are addicted to email and check it around the clock
  • People are guilty of checking email in awkward locations or times
  • Email is and will remain a cornerstone of workplace culture
  • Millennials check email more frequently than other age groups
  • Email marketers need to do a better job to improve conversion rates

Study respondents estimate they spend 6.3 hours each weekday checking their email.  3.2 hours spent checking work email and 3.1 hours checking personal email.  Nine in 10 respondents check work email outside of work as well as check their personal email while at work.  30 percent check their email in the morning while still in bed.  Clearly, FOMO (fear of missing out) is an affliction regardless of age and not just reserved for teenagers.

Americans most commonly check their emails while:

  • Watching TV/movies (70%)
  • In bed (52%)
  • On vacation (50%)
  • On the phone (43%)
  • In the bathroom (42%)
  • Driving (18%)

If you’re a millennial, those stats go way up.  And email shows no signs of going away with 47 percent of respondents expect their use of email will increase over the next five years. It is one of the preferred communication and collaboration methods at work because it’s perceived as efficient and an easy way to share content.

This is fabulous news if you’re an email marketer.  You have a captive audience but consumers find it annoying to have to scroll to read the entire email (28%) or wait for images to load (21%).  Interestingly, consumers want to see fewer emails (39%), less repetitive emails as well as less annoying or intrusive (32%) ones.  I would be thrilled with less email from brands that I don’t buy from and who got my name from a ‘partner’.

Email that is more personalized (and not just using my first name or truncating it to ‘Christ’) and contextually relevant to me and my habits are key to increasing conversion.  Just because I’m a boomer female that lives in California and drives a Prius doesn’t mean I want weekly emails that share the local produce purchased by various ‘hot’ eateries in Palo Alto, CA.  That doesn’t help me.  The study found that 34 percent of respondents have had to “create a new email address or switch email providers due to an overwhelming amount of spam”.  If you’re in tech, that percentage is 53 percent.

The Adobe study found that retail websites drive the most web traffic from email when they are sent to customers who actually want them and receive them in the morning, while still in bed, or during working hours.   Adobe ADI cites that “local visitors, who spend more and convert at higher rates, are twice as likely to come from email as from the average channel” assuming the email was sent to their mobile device.

The obsession with email is driving an increasing number of people to go through email detox.  Four in 10 have “tried a self-imposed email detox, at an average success rate of 87 percent lasing on average five days”.   My best email detox was a two week trip to Bora-Bora where the data plan was massively expensive.  Know what I learned? The world didn’t end and if it was really important, the person will email you again or text you.

First published in Forbes.


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