As multi-screen usage leads more consumers to switch channels when making purchases, email marketers must invest more resources to keep track of the fragmenting customer journey, new research published by the DMA reveals.

The Email tracking report 2014, which surveyed 1,061 UK consumers, has uncovered the change in email habits, as more consumers digest their emails on a mobile or tablet first.

The report has shown that more devices make for a more complex customer journey, which is having an impact on click-through rates and is creating challenges for marketers looking to measure the effectiveness of email.

Twice as many people read subject lines on tablets than last year and a growing number of consumers sort, share, flag and delete emails on their smartphone or tablet. However four out of ten people will wait until they’re on a PC or laptop to buy something they saw on a mobile or tablet and only five out of a hundred will make the purchase direct from their smartphone.

Despite quicker, easier access to emails, click rates fell 16% this year, down from 64% in 2011. The Email tracking report revealed that 35% of potential customers will visit a brand’s website via another route and 30% will visit a store.

“The multi-screen world creates more complexity for the marketer given consumers will switch channels if they read about something in an email which they want to purchase” said Matt Simons, chair of the DMA’s Email Research Hub and director of eMagineBlue.”Brands need to ensure they have effective systems and processes in place so they do not lose track when measuring the customer journey”.

Trusting data usage key for consumers

One of the most important aspects of email marketing that brands must prioritise is to show consumers they will be responsible with their data, with 25% of consumers citing a ‘clear and concise data protection policy’ as a reason they opt-in to receive brand emails.

“It’s beyond any doubt that data-driven marketers in all channels need to pay close attention to the email addresses they capture and ensure they are used with respect, relevance and as a resource which is not simply renewable” said Adam Williams, managing director of the report’s sponsor DBS Data.

 “If you are fortunate to be trusted with an email address and permission to market to it then that should be seen as the start of a long-term relationship, rather than just a rush towards short-term sales.”

Emails with money-off discounts remain the consumers’ top reason for email sign-ups for a fourth year in succession, while 36% signed up to receiving emails because they ‘liked the brand’ and 26% because they ‘trusted the brand’.

The full Email tracking report is available here