Consumers show big differences in e-mail attitudes, but less in behavior. That was the import of a Forrester Research study discussed last month in an e-mail marketing forum hosted online by New York list company NetCreations/PostMasterDirect.
Nine percent of the surveyed North American online consumers are curious novices, 41 percent are engaged stalwarts and 50 percent jaded veterans, according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics 2003 North America Retail & Media Online Study.
“The jaded veterans definitely have more negative attitudes, but their rates of signing up aren't that much different and their self-reported open rates, while somewhat lower, are still quite healthy,” Forrester senior analyst Jim Nail said.
Negative attitudes have a minor effect on open rates.
When asked how often they open the e-mails they signed up for, 63 percent of curious novices mentioned financial services e-mails and 72 percent each mentioned retail, manufacturing and news/information missives.
Engaged stalwarts were close to curious novices in their response. Sixty-seven percent opened retail e-mails, 69 percent manufacturing, 70 percent financial services and 72 percent news/information messages.
Surprisingly, jaded veterans are more tolerant than their name signifies. Fifty-eight percent open retail e-mails, 60 percent manufacturing, 65 percent financial services and 67 percent news/information.
Online tenure and spam volume drive e-mail attitudes. Jaded veterans and engaged stalwarts have an average age of 45 and are split equally between males and females. Curious novices are 40 years old and 59 percent male.
At $67,662 a year, curious novices also earn more than their counterparts — $63,323 for engaged stalwarts and $61,198 for jaded veterans. But in terms of tenure, curious novices have been online only 2.4 years versus 3.5 for engaged stalwarts and 3.9 for jaded veterans.
Length of time online determines the number of e-mails received weekly by these segments, Forrester said. Curious novices get 59 unsolicited e-mails each week, engaged stalwarts 92 and jaded veterans 113.
So it is no surprise that 44 percent of the surveyed audience dubbed as jaded veterans uses a spam filter. Only 37 percent of engaged stalwarts have such protection against spam, and 28 percent of curious novices.
Not that spam filters help much. Forty-three percent of curious novices and 38 percent of engaged stalwarts with spam filters reported being satisfied with the guard. Only 30 percent of jaded veterans were satisfied.
Yet 69 percent of jaded veterans said they were tech optimists, compared with 64 percent of engaged stalwarts and a mere 39 percent for curious novices.
Engaged stalwarts, however, were the most enthusiastic in believing e-mail is a great way to find out about products: 27 percent. Curious novices were at 23 percent, and just 16 percent of jaded veterans agreed with that statement.
Eight percent of the curious novices often buy products advertised in e-mail versus 5 percent for engaged stalwarts and 4 percent for jaded veterans.
Guarded is what jaded veterans are. Sixteen percent have a separate e-mail account for receiving promotions, compared with 13 percent of engaged stalwarts and only 5 percent of curious novices.
As expected, only 10 percent of jaded veterans read most e-mail ads, just in case. It jumps to 26 percent to engaged stalwarts and 27 percent for curious novices.
Interestingly, jaded veterans and curious novices tie — 18 percent each — for sometimes forwarding e-mail ads to friends. One-fourth of the surveyed engaged stalwarts did so.