What are all these emails we’re getting?

Post 2 in our 2005 Email Usage Survey Series. (Post 1: 2005 Email Usage Survey Overview)

Email overload is something we are all keenly aware of, so it was no surprise to see the numbers of emails people are dealing with on a daily basis.  About 50% of the 300 survey respondents receive between 50 to 250 messages per day.  Almost 15% of the respondents receive over 250 messages per day.  But what are all these emails we’re receiving?

One of the most startling facts was that spam continues to account for over 50% of the email received by over 30% of those surveyed.  Even with users, companies, and service providers adopting anti-spam measures, this clearly continues to be a very serious problem and a major time and resource sink.

For the majority (62%), it’s the workplace that is filling their inboxes with mail.  For 35% of users, work-related email accounts for over 75% of their email.  However, there is clearly a glut of unnecessary email being sent.  38% of users describe the majority of this email as non-critical.  And being cc’d on emails accounts for a significant (25% or more) portion of the email received by 30% of respondents.  In fact, 13% of email users report that over half the email they receive consists just of messages they are copied on! 

While many people have told us that the personal email they receive is very important to them, it constitutes a relatively small portion of the email volume people have to deal with – for 50% of respondents, less than 10% of their email is personal correspondence.  Only 17% of users have over 50% personal email.

The remainder of people’s inbox is filled up with newsletters and mailing lists.  These emails don’t usually account for a large portion of email people receive, and these are also the emails that people find to be some of the easiest to deal with using rules and other filing systems.

We have posted graphs of these results here.

We’ll finish up this series with another post this week on email tools people are using and next week we’ll publish a full report discussing our thoughts on the survey, the challenges people are facing with email, and techniques to help manage those challenges effectively.


  1. E-mail onderzoek: 1/3 krijgt 50% spam

    Een onderzoek met grafieken van Clearcontext met betrekking tot het gebruiik van email onder 300 gebruikers levert een aantal interessante gegevens op:
    – 50% van de 300 respondenten krijgt tussen de

  2. […] Spam accounts for upwards of 30 percent of all email.  Use your spam filter to identify and sort out spam from your Inbox.  Take the time […]