If the last couple of years are any guide, the fallout from high profile hacks such as the ones that targeted Sony, the Democratic National Committee, Colin Powell and, of course, Hillary Clinton, have taught us that if you have anything to say that can even remotely be perceived as controversial, you probably shouldn’t put it in an email.
But in it’s second annual email study, Adobe has found that email remains the number-one preferred mode of workplace communication, and people are using it more casually than ever, in part due to our reliance on mobile devices.
The majority of Adobe's respondents said that their smartphones are the device they use the most to read email -- 90 percent of 18 to 24 year olds, 88 percent of 25 to 34 year olds and 81 percent of those 35 and older. And texting may have more influence on our email habits than we realize. The study found that 37 percent of people said that they write shorter and more concise emails because of how they text, with 42 percent saying they use emojis to communicate in email as well.
Really, there’s no escaping it -- 45 percent of respondents said they check their work email every couple of hours when they are off the clock. Forty-eight percent also reported that they checked their personal email at work with the same frequency. And when people are off the clock, they profess to reading emails while watching TV or a movie (69 percent), while laying in bed (57 percent), on vacation (53 percent) and even in the bathroom (45 percent).
While being succinct is vital to office communication, businesses should think about brevity when it comes to their email marketing efforts. “Brands can expect that longer, wordier emails will get deleted before they're even read," says Ben Tepfer, product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign. "Even [emails with] long subject lines are probably not going to be opened. Brands need to be really precise and on point with what they are providing. Really, less is more.”
More than half of respondents said that to make email more manageable, they acted on messages right away by responding to them, putting them in a folder or deleting them as soon as they appeared. Forty-five percent said that they decided to do a self-imposed email detox. Thirty-seven percent said they felt liberated in the attempt to unplug for a bit. However, 16 percent still expected a response to their emails within minutes, and 33 percent said that they expected a reply within the hour.
You have to wonder how much of this always-on culture actually makes us more productive rather than making us just busy for busy’s sake.
"We don’t want to be left out. We don’t want to miss anything. I think that [looking at those statistics], work email has become a more emotional and personal experience," Tepfer says. "When we have interactions with our bosses and our colleagues, we expect things back fast and we email them the way that we text our friends, and that’s a really interesting dynamic.”