Monday Catch-Up: Millennial Email Behavior, Sunday Send-Times and iOS 10 Unsubscribes

Happy Monday, marketers! Here in the U.S. we are celebrating Thanksgiving this week. And speaking of that – thanks to you for checking out our blog! We appreciate it very much. Now, on with the news.

Study finds that millennials interact with email much like older users

According to the results of a recent study, when it comes to how they use email, millennials and older users have a lot in common, writes Chad White on the Litmus blog.

“Despite millennials having a reputation for being different from everyone else, their email behavior is very similar to that of older generations when it comes to the things that drive them to unsubscribe and report emails as spam,” White writes in his piece, which focuses on a Litmus survey of 1,300 American adults.

The study results indicate there is almost no difference between millennials and older users when it comes to unsubscribing from lists or labeling emails as spam, but it did uncover some differences in other areas. Although “even in those instances, the differences aren’t all that meaningful when it comes to how marketers should respond,” White writes.

For instance, millennials are more likely than older users to frequently check their spam folders and move messages out of them. His takeaway from this finding: “While it’s comforting to know that many consumers, especially millennials, are checking their spam folders regularly and correcting the mistakes made by spam filters, it doesn’t change marketers’ need to try to maximize their deliverability.”

And millennials are more likely than older users to act solely based on subject lines, to unsubscribe from emails over a bad customer service experience and to triage their mobile inbox and save certain messages for later. In addition, they are less likely to find it difficult to unsubscribe from promotional messages.

“Although there are some differences here in terms of how millennials behave, the risks that drive unsubscribes and spam complaints are fairly universal,” White writes. “That means that marketers shouldn’t really need to make any changes to accommodate millennials, which love email just as much as everyone else. Of course, positively motivating millennials might involve very different messaging and strategies than you’d use with Gen Xers and others. But before you’re able to engage them, you have to avoid ticking them off.”

Rethinking Sunday delivery – maybe it works!

The advice of the classic song “Never On Sunday” has been largely taken to heart by email marketers, who generally target their messages for delivery on other days of the week. But Ryan Burgio, writing at Business 2 Community thinks that strategy may deserve reconsideration.

“Sunday is when everyone detaches from their laptops and cell phones,” he writes. “Why would you send a marketing email on Sunday? No one will open it or click on your offer. Or will they?”

To find how worthwhile it is to send marketing emails on the traditional “day of rest,” Ryan and his team at Stryve Digital Marketing analyzed their metrics over the past year. “We came across something interesting,” he writes. “Sunday has actually performed pretty well for open and click rates. It ranks in the top three for open rates and is number one for click-through rate.”

While other studies, which Burgio discusses in the article, both back up and contradict his firm’s findings, he is convinced that “something is going on” with Sundays — and it is positive for email marketers. “Why are people more apt to at click links in an email?” on Sunday, he asks. “There’s no definitive, scientific answer here, but we have some thoughts.”

Those “thoughts” include the simple fact that there is less email competition on Sunday, that the traditional five-day workweek has been largely disrupted by technology and that subscribers have more time (and may be in a more receptive mood) to engage with marketing messages on Sunday than on other days of the week.

Training plays a role in why email marketers have not engaged with Sunday delivery, Burgio suggests. “Like all marketers, we like benchmarks. Most of us have been trained to send emails at the optimal day and time of the week. But, this means we’re all sending emails at the same time. This is usually between Monday and Thursday. More volume means more competition. More competition means it’s harder to get the attention of your target customer.”

But, while it may prove valuable for email marketers to make Sunday delivery more of a focus, Burgio has a warning about what he terms “the annoyance factor.”

“Are you bothered by a Sunday email from a colleague? Chances are you’d feel the same way about an email from a brand. Think hard about your audience and message before sending that Sunday email,” he advises.

Assessing impact of iOS 10’s ‘easy unsubscribe’ feature

“iOS email unsubscribes have increased 75 percent since the release of Apple’s latest operating system,” writes Jess Nelson, at Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily – a development that, while it might sound ominous to email markers, could prove to have a significant upside.

“Apple’s release of iOS 10 in September included an ‘easy unsubscribe’ feature that is the likely culprit for the rise in unsubscribes,” Nelson writes in his article, which draws on study data recently released by Yes Lifecycle Marketing. The company looked at unsubscribe rates from August 28 to October 16 “to determine whether the latest release of iOS 10 had any negative consequences for email marketers.”

The study results “confirm that email marketers are struggling with the easier-to-use unsubscribe feature,” according to Nelson. “Retail-specific mail marketing campaigns have seen their unsubscribe rates double since September…while the financial services and entertainment industries has seen their unsubscribe rates triple since the release of iOS 10.”

Kyle Hendrick, director of client services at Yesmail, is quoted in the article as seeing a direct connection between rise in unsubscribes and the introduction of the ‘easy unsubscribe’ functionality in iOS 10, but offers reassurance to email marketers for whom this news may be troubling. “There are long-term upsides that could benefit brands,” he says, with one of them being reducing the number of unengaged subscribers who “could cause damage to an email campaign by lowering open rates and overall ROI.”

Email marketers who want to get a better handle on unsubscribes in the iOS 10 age would benefit by creating preference centers that subscribers can use for email management, Nelson advises, citing a recent Mapp Digital study of 1,800 consumers. He writes that “40 percent of respondents said they may be dissuaded from unsubscribing from an email if they were offered a way to receive fewer messages instead, although he notes that “35 percent of respondents asserted that nothing could convince them to stay subscribed to an email list once they made a decision to leave.”