What proportion of your inbox is emails from friends – and how much is newsletters and marketing messages you can’t be bothered to read? If you spend half your time automatically hitting “delete” you’re not alone…
The only problem with a blissful two-week holiday away from computers is coming back to hundreds of emails to pore through, as I found last weekend.
It took me a good couple of hours to sort through my bulging inbox, but the more time I spent, the more I realised I was mostly just hitting “delete”. Out of about 350 emails there were around 80 that I actually wanted to look at. But what really struck me was how few were from personal contacts – only a handful.
Admittedly, most of my friends knew I was away and probably avoided emailing me for that very reason, but it is indicative of the overall ratio of personal emails to newsletters and marketing material in my inbox.
Just hit “delete”
This has made me realise how I’ve become accustomed to automatically deleting endless emails everyday without opening them, purely because I’m too lazy to unsubscribe. My inbox has become nothing more than a portal to receive marketing messages.
Am I the only one who feels like their email account is becoming obsolete – or at least, overrun by impersonal messages? Judging by the growing number of other ways to communicate with our nearest and dearest (Facebook, Twitter, texting, Google+, instant messenger… the list goes on), it’s not surprising that fewer and fewer emails are being sent to friends and family.
And figures from the Direct Marketing Association’s latest Email Benchmarking Report reveal that UK marketers are dramatically increasing the amount of emails they send. In the first half of 2010 over 1.7 billion emails were sent – an increase of 50% over the same period in 2009. But with open rates at around 24% for retention emails and 11% for acquisition emails, there is obviously a lot of mail being ignored or deleted without ever being read.
Clear email clutter
So what’s the answer? Probably to start a second account purely for those times when you’re buying online or signing up to something. That way you can keep third party emails separate from personal ones, but it sure sounds like a lot of work getting it all sorted.
In the short-term I’m going to set aside a few hours to unsubscribe from all the emails I automatically delete. Thanks to a nifty new piece of functionality in Gmail which marks the most ‘important’ emails (based on what you open most) this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Have you ever had to do this? Or are you one step ahead of me, with separate email accounts for impersonal emails? Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who still use their email accounts purely for personal communication?