Strong, Ongoing Consumer Preference for Email

May 27, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Email | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Consumers prefer email as a primary method of personal and business communication – and will continue to do so the foreseeable future, despite online threats and the emergence of other channels and Web 2.0 applications, according to a Habeas study.

The 2008 study of consumer attitudes also found that users want more control over their online interactions with businesses and have an increasing level of concern over spam and virus threats reaching them via their mobile devices.

The report found, similar to the previous one,?that nearly 60% of users employ two or more personal email addresses, giving a different address to entities they do not trust while maintaining separate accounts for trustworthy sources.

Below, some other highlights from the study:


  • 67% of respondents prefer email as a communications channel over other online vehicles, and 65% say they believe that will remain the preference in five years.
  • Consumer opinion of the future importance of email registers far above future expectations for video conferencing (19%), instant messaging (17%), SMS text messages (12%) and Web meetings (12%).
  • 65% of the demographic ages 18-34 – those most comfortable with IM, SMS and emerging communications methods – say they will likely favor email to communicate with businesses in five years.

Online Threats

  • 69% of those surveyed expressed concern about being victimized by email fraud scams, an increase from the 62% finding in the 2007 Habeas report.
  • 43% of respondents voice concern over the spam and virus threat to mobile devices, up from 2007’s 36% – and a reflection of the increasing use of the “mobile inbox” through smartphone and internet-enabled phone devices.
  • As many as 35% of those surveyed do not know what to look for when trying to sift through emails that might potentially be dangerous.

Online Reputation Management

  • More than 88% of respondents say they would like organizations to give them more choices over the content and frequency of the emails they receive, including options on advertisements, special offers, articles, newsletters, whitepapers and other specific content options.
  • More than 80% of participants favor doing business with organizations that use opt-in permission to send them email.
  • Three of every four respondents prefer engaging with organizations that exhibit strong privacy practices.
  • Just 12% of respondents acknowledge making one or more purchases from businesses they did not know.

Online Business Practices to Avoid

  • As many as one in four respondents lose some degree of faith in an organization that is unable to deliver email reliably.
  • Daily email messages rank with pop-up advertisements as the most damaging online tactics to a company’s online reputation.
  • On average, about 80% of respondents are not comfortable with businesses’ sharing their email address.
  • Internet users say about two-thirds of companies are likely to share their email addresses with third parties.
  • More than 80% say a business’s reputation is negatively affected if it shares customer email addresses with third parties.
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