65% of consumers believe brand emails should always be formal, reveals Exclaimer study

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Consumers across all age groups are hesitant to trust brands using informal language, with only 20% seeing a positive impact on brand image, and Baby Boomers specifically finding it challenging to connect with such brands.

LONDON, UK25 June 2024 Exclaimer,  the leading email signature management platform, today announced the findings of its latest research into how different age groups respond to informality in email communications from brands and the impact slang has on brand image, trust, and customer connection. 

To understand how different generations respond towards formality in emails, Exclaimer partnered with Bottled Imagination to survey over 800 participants aged 18-54+ across the UK. The research findings suggest  that brands should review their current email strategies and avoid informal, casual, and trend-inspired messages in future communications. 

Almost 2 in 3 consumers believe that emails should always be formal

should brands use a formal tone to maintain professionalism in email comms?

Results found that 65% of participants believe that brand email communications should always be formal, to help maintain professionalism. Over half of Gen Z are pro-formality (54%), followed by 61% of Millennials, 65% of Gen X and over three-quarters of Baby Boomer consumers (76%).

64% of participants think informal language in emails can result in consumers losing trust

the likelihood of losing trust in a brand with a casual email tone

In general, 44% of consumers believe that casual language is somewhat likely to cause them to lose trust in a brand. Specifically, 20% consider this to be very likely, whereas just over a third (36%) think it unlikely.

Millennials (44%), Gen Xs (46%), and Baby Boomers (48%) all believe that informality in email communications is likely to tarnish a consumer’s trust in a brand. In contrast, Gen Z opinions differ, with the majority (43%) confessing that they think this unlikely.

Only 1 in 5 think an informal tone of voice has a positive effect on brand image

percentage of people who believe slang in email marketing damages brand image

48% of consumers believe that brand image is negatively impacted by using slang and an informal tone of voice in email communications. Less than 1 in 5 (19%) thought that slang or an informal tone of voice used in email communications positively affects brand image.

Baby Boomers are the most disapproving, with 60% stating that the use of slang could tarnish a brand’s image. Half of Gen X participants agree, along with 43% of Millennials and 42% of Gen Z consumers.

Using informal language could leave 58% of consumers feeling disconnected from a brand

statistic showing the impact of slang on brand communication and connection

58% of participants say they feel disconnected from brands that use an informal communication style in customer emails.

A quarter (25%) of consumers say they’d struggle to make a connection with a brand using language in this fashion. Additionally, 20% reveal that they'd find it hard to understand the message, while 14% say that they’d find it difficult to both understand the message and establish a connection with the brand.

Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X consumers, all agree that there is no impact on their connection to a brand if they use slang in email communication. However, 54% of Baby Boomers find it hard to build a connection with a brand when they do this.

Only 2% of consumers think incorporating Gen Z-inspired lingo is professional

table showing what consumers think about Gen Z-inspired email lingo and email sign-offs

65% of consumers find the trend of using Gen Z-inspired email sign-offs such as ‘seeyas’, ‘peace’ & ‘haha bye’ unprofessional. Only 2% consider it professional, with just 1 in 5 seeing it as a modern way to communicate.

Gen X (70%) and Baby Boomers (77%) stand out as having the strongest opinion on this trend, with a vast majority deeming it strictly ‘unprofessional’.

Carol Howley, CMO at Exclaimer comments: “It’s easy for brands to get caught up in trends. With the rise of social media, formality in email communications is no longer an absolute must. However, this freedom can lead to overusing informalities and colloquialisms in a way that can lead to misinterpretation, disinterest, and mistrust. While it’s crucial to craft a unique brand voice, businesses must also present a formal and consistent brand identity that reinforces their professional image.

Our survey findings underscore the significance of understanding customers' communication preferences including the use of formality, slang, and generational lingo. Being mindful of such preferences enables brands to personalize their 1:1 emails effectively to cater to generational needs."

Other results show:

  • 1 in 3 Baby Boomers struggle to connect with brands that use informal language


    The majority of Gen Z (58%), Millennials (46%), and Gen X (38%) don’t believe that informalities would deter a connection. However, a third of Baby Boomers state that casual colloquialisms make connecting with a brand difficult.


  • Different industries have a significant impact on consumer preference for formality


    The majority of consumers surveyed believe that finance (83%), health (82%) and education (79%) are industries that should always employ formalities in email communications. Gen Z (80%), Gen X (86%) and Baby Boomers (91%) agree that formality is the most important in finance businesses, whereas Millennials (82%) are most concerned with formality from healthcare companies.


    In contrast, less than half of all consumers believe that a formal tone of voice is necessary for retail companies to employ.


  • Over half of consumers find slang in email communication cringe-worthy


    Despite a rising trend of using casual language in email communications, 52% of consumers believe using slang is actually cringe-worthy. Less than a quarter (24%) disagree , with a further 24% neither agree nor disagree.


  • Less than a quarter of consumers believe that social media platforms have a positive impact on email marketing


    Only 23% believe that social media has positively affected the language used in email marketing. 35% feel the impact to be negative and 42% of consumers think that the impact of social media is neutral.


Howley continues:

“Personalization is now a must for brand survival. In fact, 71% of consumers expect a tailored experience, and 76% are frustrated when this isn’t the case [1] . One of the main takeaways from our survey is that 2 in 3 consumers prefer formality, which could really change how brands approach their email communications in the future.

“Embracing the future of 1:1 email communications requires businesses to understand, respect, and tailor their content and tone to generational preferences. Taking the time to understand your target audience demonstrates a willingness to meet their needs, and personalizing such messages increases the likelihood that they will be read, understood, and accepted. Such satisfaction is crucial for customer retention.”

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact:

Sources

  1. McKinsey and Company: The value of getting personalization right—or wrong—is multiplying

Survey methodology 

The survey was conducted using www.pollfish.com, which included responses from 800 participants aged 18-54+.

About Exclaimer

Exclaimer is the industry's leading provider of email signature solutions, empowering businesses to unlock the potential of email as a key digital advertising channel. With its award-winning tools, organizations can simplify the management of email signatures to deliver consistent branding, promote marketing campaigns and company news, gather real-time customer feedback, and much more.  

Over 60,000 organizations in 150+ countries rely on Exclaimer for their email signature solutions. Its diverse customer base includes Sony, Mattel, Bank of America, NBC, the Government of Canada, the BBC, and the Academy Awards. For more information, visit www.exclaimer.com or follow Exclaimer on Facebook, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter). 

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