A survey conducted by Kentico Software, a leader in customer experience management, found that only 32 percent of respondents agreed that email marketing has gotten better in the past five years. Thirty-one percent said it has gotten worse while the remaining 36 percent felt it has remained the same.

An astounding 77 percent of those surveyed said they would not be receptive to an unsolicited email even if it was offering something that suited their interests or needs. These findings suggest that, as in the past, reaching new customers via email continues to be a challenge.

Solicited Emails

But what about email lists they willfully subscribe to? Thirty-six percent said they only read about a quarter of the emails they are subscribed to, 26 percent read half of them, 16 percent read three-quarters, 10 percent say they read all of them and the remaining 12 percent responded that they read none of them.

The study also found that of all respondents:

  • 37 percent subscribe to 1-5 lists
  • 31 percent subscribe to 6-10 lists
  • 14 percent subscribe to 11-15 lists
  • 7 percent subscribe to 16-20 lists
  • 5 percent subscribe to more than 20 lists

Respondents who subscribe to 6-10 lists tend to read more of their marketing emails, roughly 75 percent, than others surveyed. Of all respondents who subscribe to lists, 57 percent stay on the list for 1-3 years, 22 percent will stay on the list for 4-6 years, 5 percent for 7-9 years and 16 percent for 10 or more years.

What Constitutes Spam?

What makes respondents cringe and reach for the spam or trash button even on legitimate emails? Thirty-eight percent of participants said it is when they receive excessive emails from the same company, 34 percent said when emails are unsolicited, 26 percent bail when emails don’t contain anything of interest to them and 2 percent said they put emails with poor design and typos in the spam folder.

Clicks vs. Just Opens

Even after marketers are successful in getting customers to open their emails, they still have to overcome the obstacle of getting them to perform the action requested in the email – or the call to action. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents will perform the call to action 1-2 times per month, 21 percent will perform requested actions 3-4 times per month, 8 percent will perform 5-6 actions per month and less than 1 percent will perform 7-8 actions per month. Five percent of respondents said they perform more than 10 actions per month and 18 percent say they never respond to a call to action.


The research indicates that marketers still have much to do to reach their customers in ways that are meaningful to them. In order to be truly successful, they will need to engage customers via social media, search and other channels in conjunction with email.


Kentico Software. “Kentico Email Marketing Survey: Only 32% Say Email Marketing Has Improved”. Abc27.com. 9/23/2013.