Only 16% of Students Read Marketing Email

December 10, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Promotions, Coupons & Co-op | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Today’s high-school and college students started using email at an average age of 13, have had an email address for 8 years and have about 2.4 email addresses each, yet 61% say they ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ read marketing emails, finds a survey from eROI.

The research, which was designed to uncover how students communicate digitally and relate to email marketing messages, found that the majority of students do not feel companies are effectively speaking to them personally through email, and only 16% of students say they ‘frequently’ read the marketing emails they receive.

In terms of preferred forms of communication, email continues to score well among students.? While 37% say that texting is their favorite form of communication, 26% cite email.


However, despite this continuing popularity, the study finds that email, as a viable marketing channel for reaching students, is dying.

Email Marketing Messages Ineffective

In addition to the majority of students not reading marketing emails, 66% of students similarly report rarely or never taking action after reading them.

However, the major reasons students take action upon receiving email:

  • They are interested in the product (60%)
  • They are attracted to a special offer (47%).
  • They like the design of the email (11%).


With this in mind, there still may be some opportunity to reach students with relevant, targeted email messages that resonate with them, according to eROI. “Staying on top of constantly evolving trends is the key to gaining trust and staying relevant to the student market,” the report said. “But another challenge in reaching them is knowing which channel will carry and present your message most effectively.”

Additional findings about students and email are detailed below.

Google is Favorite Email Provider

In terms of the primary email service used by students, Gmail is the clear favorite. Nearly one-third (32%) of college students use Gmail as their primary email address, while 19% use Yahoo, 18% use MSN/Hotmail and about 17% use their school email.


Reasons For Getting Email Address

Approximately one-quarter of students say they first got an email address so they would be able to buy online, while a much larger number of? students got an email address for communicating with family (81%) and with friends (52%).

Frequency of Email Checks

More than two-thirds of students say they check email at least once per day, and 55% of those check more than 3 times per day. This indicates that students are aware of the emails that hit their inbox, and are looking for compelling messages that cut through the clutter and speak to them, the report said.

Only about 36% of students use email alerts to keep up to date on what’s happening on their social networks and only about one-quarter of students originally got an email address for social networking purposes.

About 12% of students currently check email on a mobile device, though eROI forecasts that this number will increase. quickly over time.

“Overall, email plays an important role in college students’ life as a personal communication device, but not as a major marketing channel,” the report stated. “Ultimately, marketers need to ensure their products are relevant and take the time to craft emails that truly speak to students.”

About the study: The survey included a sample of 283 high school and college students representing 29 US states.

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