Consumers Still Love Email

The 2019 DMA Consumer Email Tracker Report looks at UK consumer attitudes towards email. This was the first report after GDPR and it does not disappoint. In fact, one of the most interesting insights is in the very first chart.

Email is Popular

Email is the most popular chanel across the entire customer journey. It is prefered by 57% of consumers during pre-purchase, 69% post-purchase and 48% during aftercare or what the report calls “service”. The data also confirms that context matters with online ads (15%), traditional post (14%) and face-to-face (13%) being the next best channels during pre-purchase. Text was the strong second favourite in both post sales and service with traditional post being quite strong in the service phase as well. It should be noted here that the survey did not distinguish between text and app push so I have used “text” to mean both.

This is very good news as we talk about context, but marketers really struggle to put the “right channel” into practice. If we always aim for the right channel, we are more often than not going to miss. In fact without the use of machine learning and AI, it is almost impossible to get to the right channel every time. What we do know however, is where the customer is in their purchase journey and therefore what channel mix to use.

Don’t just send email

Based on email being an almost 2:1 favourite over all others across the customer journey, you could be tempted to focus on email alone but that would be a mistake. This research also clearly shows that consumers want choice and as most marketers use these other channels anyway, there is really no benefit in abandoning them.

You could simply ask for your customers’ preferred chanel at each stage of the journey, but I can see how for some that could be a step too far. So use the best channel by focusing on the recipient’s problem and how you solve that with each step of your communications.

Marketers should use the pre-purchase phase to identify each consumer’s problem and which products and services solve that problem. You would ideally do this with a multi-channel approach but you need to remember to avoid carpet bombing your recipients across the channels you have at your disposal. Use those channels in partnership with each other, starting with the least intrusive to gather information on the customer’s problem, then build on this information to deliver very targeted solutions across each appropriate channel.

Email was the very clear winner in the post-purchase phase but again, that does not mean you should exclude other channels. Firstly, some of your communications lend themselves to certain channels. A delivery notice sent before the item is dispatched allowing me to change the delivery details is better sent via email so I can make my changes on a laptop but an email sent to say the courier will be late is likely to be missed.

Secondly, you have no way of knowing the customer’s circumstances on delivery day so you want to make it as easy as possible for the customer, but remember that does not mean repeating every message across every channel. Telling me that my package will arrive in a text, email and app message does not add value to me. The one I see adds value to me; the others are just noise or worse an annoyance.

The service part of the journey may be the easiest channel choice. Most customers will self identify the channel they want to use based on how they contact you but don’t be afraid to change to a more appropriate channel. Just remember to explain the reason and ask permission to make the change.

While this is all good news for email, the data was very clear when it comes to retargeting. Ninety seven percent (97%) of consumers do not like retargeting after purchase. You know who the customer is and what was purchased, so you can use this as an exclusion to retargeting until the customer has a new problem and starts the journey again. Alternatively, you can wait until a period of time has lapsed without the customer returning to the site.


Coming off a tough 2018 where all we seemed to talk about was GDPR and how it seemed to be killing email, this report is very good news. Not only is email popular with consumers across the entire purchase journey, but we also now know which other channels we should be plugging into the journey and when.