Consumers leave loyal brands due to irrelevance

In speaking with my 70 year old father over the weekend, he shared with me that he is no longer reading advertising emails- he is just hitting the delete key. He also mentioned that he continues to receive mail for my mother. Now, if my mother was able to get the mail that would be fine, but postal rates are high, and not sure what it would costs to deliver it since she passed away in 1995. Even my father, whom I consider the most patient man on earth – is getting frustrated with irrelevant mail and email.

A few months ago I was researching some information on the “noise” level and was questioning if consumers would actually stop doing business with these “polluters”. I know at my house we have actively unsubscribed to irrelevant catalogs, junk mail, and emails. But are others doing this too? Here is some information that I found:

  • Traditional junk mail accounts for over 100 billion pieces of mail each year, and 44 percent of this unsolicited, primarily promotional mail ends up in a landfill…unopened.
  • Email waste is also staggering. There is more than 200 billion email messages sent each day, yet 97 percent of all email sent is actually spam, according to an April, 2009 report released by Microsoft.
  • The average email open rate across 16 industries during Q2 of 2009 now stands at 22.2%, and has increased for the fourth quarter in a row (Epsilon)
  • About 3.3% of opt-in emails for subscribers in the US and Canada were sent to “junk” or “bulk” email bins, while 17.4% did not get delivered at all. (ReturnPath)

I could not find one report that captured my frustration or could prove my hypothesis on the growing level of marketing fatigue. And if I could find such a report, I could use it in speaking with marketers on how they are using their precious marketing dollars and how data driven marketing  can deliver more relevancy, and more relevancy usually means increased customer retention, loyalty, and ROI.

The audit is completed and here are some key findings:

  • While 64 percent of consumers say promotional offers dominate both the email and traditional mail they receive, only 41 percent view these as must-read communications.
  • Of the 91 percent of consumers who opt out or unsubscribe to emails, 46 percent are driven to brand defection because the messages are simply not relevant.
  • The threat of customer churn and disconnection intensifies as 41 percent of consumers say they would consider ending a brand relationship due to irrelevant promotions, and an additional 22 percent say they would definitely defect from the brand.
  • Yet, while marketers continue to weigh the pros and cons of email versus printed postal mail, consumers are much more concerned about the level of individualization and understanding of their needs and relationship with the brand.

“Lee the end message is clear, this economy has shifted influence and power to the customer” said Liz Miller, VP of the CMO Council, “and the consumers are saying in very clear words STOP sending me mass messaged, irrelevant (and irritating) waste or I will take my business to a company that actually takes the time to know me.”