Subscribers Have Their Own Ideas!

This special edition blog post is by eec Consumer Education Roundtable member Mindy Dolan, Director of Marketing for TailoredMail.

It’s probably fair to say that most of us who are members of the DMA’s Email Experience Council are passionate about email marketing in some sense or another. Sometimes we’re so passionate about it that we assume everyone else in the world knows what we’re talking about when we say the words “email client”, “spam” or “phishing”. But what if you asked your parents, grandparents or friend what those words meant? What do you think they’d say?

The eec Consumer Education Roundtable wanted to know just that in order to make sure we were speaking the right language when developing a new website to help consumers become more aware of email’s do’s and don’ts.

Working with Roundtable chairs Jason Baer of Convince & Convert and DJ Waldow of Blue Sky Factory, Roundtable member Stephanie Miller of Return Path put together a quick survey asking questions about email clients, spam and phishing. Roundtable members sent it to friends, family and Facebook/Twitter followers specifically looking for people OUTSIDE the email industry. More than 65 people took the survey.

What we found is that in general, people are catching on to email and the lingo used. They knew the harder terms like phishing, but no surprise, they don’t think like marketers! When we asked the question, “What name or phrase do you use to describe the type of company that provides you an email address? Note that we aren’t looking for the name of the company like Yahoo! or Cox, but the “category or type” of company that this represents.” we got a mixed response. Most people outside of the email industry really don’t know the definition of an email service provider or an email client. They just think of the company that provides them with an email address as Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc. There were some in the bunch who recognized it as an email service provider, but this helped us realize that when we are referring to an “email client” or an “email service provider”, we need to be very clear and give examples of what we’re talking about (i.e. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc).

And when asked how they defined spam, a whopping 76% of the participants responded saying, “Any email I didn’t ask for, even if it’s from a brand I know.” So what do you think they do with that email once they see it in their inbox? Participants could choose multiple answers, and 71% of the participants said they’d delete an email they don’t want, 39.3% said they’d mark it as spam or junk, and another 39.3% said they’d unsubscribe.

So what does this tell us? Our perception of what consumers know and don’t know about email helps prove the need for an educational website that’s written by email experts, but speaks to consumers in their language. Good thing we are building one!

How do we get this message out to consumers once the website is live? That’s where our eec followers like you come in. We’re looking for you to help us spread the message. Once the website is ready, we’ll send you a link to the site, and ask you to add this to your email marketing messages, websites, and anywhere else you think consumers would be able to find it. In the meantime, if you would like to help us build the site, we can still use writers, editors and user experience support.

Help us get the word out and educate consumers about email! Contact Ali to join this Roundtable.