NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If you think you're getting a lot of junk in your inbox now, just wait a couple of years.
In its latest study, Forrester Research projects that consumers will receive more than 9,000 e-mail marketing messages a year by 2014. That translates to about 25 messages a day, double the average of 10 to 12 people deal with today. According to the study, spending on e-mail marketing will hit $2 billion in five years, nearly double the projected 2009 spending of $1.2 billion.
E-mail is cheaper, faster and easier to measure than traditional creative advertising. But that doesn't make it perfect. The report, which surveyed 286 e-mail marketers in the U.S. and 3,730 U.S. online consumers, also predicts marketers will waste $144 million on e-messages that never reach their primary targets because of poor list hygiene and mailing practices, as well as overzealous ISPs that group good messages with spam.
And then there's the problem of clutter. Business-to-consumer marketers sent an average of 3 million e-mails a month in 2007, said David Daniels, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. That number has now more than tripled to 10 million messages a month. "There is certainly increased clutter," Mr. Daniels said. "And marketers are beginning to realize that in the face of all that clutter they have to be more targeted and relevant."
Many prefer social media
He said social-network-savvy marketers can avoid these pitfalls. The survey found that a majority of 18- to 24-year-olds said they prefer social communications over e-mail as their primary communications tool, and 22% of all adults said they prefer social communications to their personal inboxes.
"Using things like shared social content so the user can take a piece of the message and share it on their social networks is an important tactic for marketers to be trying now," Mr. Daniels said. He said he also recommends becoming acquainted with Twitter. "We are seeing many of the e-mail service providers launching features around this so that they can manage a Twitter feed like it's a marketing campaign within the application."
Mr. Daniels said marketers might also do well to winnow their lists -- bigger is not always better when you're seeking relevance. "You may need to remove people from your list or mail to smaller segments rather than do massive blasts," he said.
He added that another major challenge for marketers is lack of internal support. E-mail marketing departments are usually made up of one or two people. "There's often not a lot of corporate support for e-mail programs, other than that they are very cost-effective," he said. "Getting the support internally to fund these types of programs and the additional head count needed to do more types of variable campaigns and dynamic content is a big challenge."