2021 Germany Messaging Engagement Report

An inside look at how German recipients want to interact and engage with email and SMS.

Last year, we launched our 2020 Global Messaging and Engagement Report to better understand how different generations around the world engage with email and SMS/MMS messages. The report measured the messaging preferences of recipients in five different countries: the U.S., U.K., France, Japan, and Germany. But, because we had way too much data to pack into just one report, we’re launching country-specific guides to help isolate how geography impacts consumer behavior and preferences. 

In this 2021 Germany Messaging Engagement Report, we take a closer look at how different generations of German recipients prefer to engage with email and SMS/MMS messages. Plus, we’ll share how your business can better appeal to what your prospects and customers want, so you can increase audience engagement.  

Here’s quick a look at what else you’ll find in this report:

  1. Methodology
  2. Key Findings
  3. Email
  4. SMS
  5. Conclusion

Chapter 2: Methodology

To establish a clear view of how modern consumers want to interact with their favorite brands, we conducted both a qualitative ethnographic study and a quantitative online survey. Together, these results helped us understand just what German consumers like, dislike, and expect when communicating with brands. 

We also split up our findings by age to create the following generational groups: Gen Z (ages 18-24), Gen Y (or millennials, ages 25-35), Gen X (ages 36-50), and baby boomers (ages 51-65). Here’s a brief overview of how we determined the results in this report:

Qualitative Insights

We conducted 24 online and 20 in-person interviews to understand how German consumers feel about branded communications. For one week, we asked 6 participants in each age group to track their email and promotional text usage and make note of the messages they found most engaging. We then interviewed 20 of our respondents—five in each generation—to better understand their responses and synthesize our results. 

Quantitative Insights

Once we compiled the core themes and insights from the mobile ethnographies, we packaged these ideas into a quantitative survey sent to 806 individuals, or about 201 respondents per age group. Their responses helped us more accurately understand customer preferences by age and how they vary.


Across the globe, email remains the one channel consumers engage with the most often. That said, Germany and Japan were the only countries we surveyed where recipients ranked other communication channels above SMS. German respondents said they actually spend more time interacting with social media ads and search ads than text messages—whereas recipients in most other countries named email and SMS their top preferred channels. 

While SMS/MMS marketing is growing in popularity in other countries due to its ability to reach customers quickly with concise messages, it appears that German consumers don’t want to interact with their favorite brands via text message. In fact, many of them felt their SMS inboxes are private, intimate spaces that should be kept separate from corporate marketing messages, with many respondents admitting they’d prefer to interact with brands over email or on social media.

Overall, we found that Germans typically believe that less is more. They are concerned about the frequency of the marketing messages they receive and say the content should be concise and clear. 

To find out how businesses can further stand out in crowded inboxes, we asked respondents what it would take to convince them to interact and engage with promotion email and SMS messages.

Here’s what they had to share and how your business can optimize your email and SMS strategies:

Chapter 4: Email

For most Germans, checking their email has become an unbreakable daily habit, with 29% revealing they refresh their inbox once a day and 32% checking between two to five times a day. With email well integrated into recipients’ day-to-day routines, it’s no wonder this communication channel remains a highly effective (and lucrative) way to reach customers. 

But, just because consumers are checking their emails, doesn’t mean they’re reading or clicking on your messages. To help, we asked recipients just what makes an email stand out positively or negatively. From how often they want to hear from your brand to what instantly pushes them to click delete, here are the key findings our consumers had to share about their email preferences, as well as how your business can use these learnings to optimize your own email strategy. 

Email Frequency

Finding the right email frequency is difficult. On one hand, you want to keep your customers updated on your latest products and services, upcoming events, and promotions, but, on the other hand, you don’t want to pester them or push them to disengage or unsubscribe. 

Our respondents were fairly divided. While 38% said they prefer to receive branded emails just once a week, 30% were open to receiving daily emails. That said, later in the survey we asked what message frequency would push recipients to unsubscribe and the vast majority of our respondents said daily emails would push them to opt out. 

Make sure you’re measuring the impact send frequency has on your engagement. While some highly engaged recipients might love hearing from your brand daily, others might not, so be sure to find a balance or let your consumers dictate how frequently they receive your emails

Engaging and Fun Emails

It’s every marketer’s dream to send engaging emails that push recipients to open, click, and buy, but if only it was that simple. To better understand what makes certain emails stand out over others, we asked our survey respondents to rank the factors that influence their decision to open an email. Here are the factors that topped their list:

  1. Sender (45%)
  2. Content (40%)
  3. Subject Line (35%)

When we pushed our recipients to elaborate further, they shared that they prefer to open messages from trusted senders and brands they know and love, while staying away from emails sent from an unknown or “strange” sender, like an address with implausible components (for example, %&§).

And, what is it that makes an email message stand out? Overall, all our respondents agreed on one thing: they only want to see personalized or relevant content in their inboxes (bonus points if the email contains a high discount or tempting offer). Discounts were the easiest way to stand out in crowded inboxes, with 60% of consumers saying a good deal would make an email memorable. 

Catchy and fun content (54%) and personalization (52%) also have a tendency to catch recipients’ attention, although every generation agreed emojis are inappropriate for promotional emails and marketing emails are typically impersonal. Instead, recipients said they’d prefer to receive emails with clear, eye-catching subject lines and high-quality images on topics related to their interests and needs.

Annoying and Unwelcome Emails

Just because an individual subscribed to your email list, doesn’t mean they’ll want to receive every message you send. To German recipients, most marketing emails are seen as unwelcome when they are too intrusive. 

What is it that turns subscribers off the most? Messages that are from an unknown sender (74%), contain grammatical and spelling errors (71%), and feature irrelevant content (59%) were the largest offenders, according to our study. This should come as no surprise, as these results closely align with the factors our respondents said make messages memorable in the section above – sender, fun content, and personalization. When your messages ignore these three cardinal rules of communication, your recipients will be less likely to engage with your brand. 

When we asked participants in our qualitative interviews to elaborate on the factors that push them to unsubscribe, they had quite a bit to say. Here were their top grievances:

  1. Receiving an email from an unknown sender: Unknown or “strange” senders, like an address with implausible components (like %&§), made 58% of respondents frustrated to check their inboxes.
  2. SPAM filter inaccuracy: Half of consumers get frustrated when messages they need get marked as SPAM or when messages they don’t want end up in their inbox.
  3. Receiving too many emails: Respondents said they would not tolerate getting emails from the same sender several times a day and/or several times a week. Germans value their privacy and only want to be contacted when a brand is sharing critical information or a great deal. 
  4. Vague or confusing content: Content whose purpose is not understood, not clear, and not short enough will push users to hit “delete.”
  5. A lack of personalization: Mass emails are impersonal. Consumers are annoyed when no effort was taken to personalize content to their individual needs and interests.
  6. Insignificant offers: Customers don’t want to be bothered by any deals less than 30% off. They want legitimate, exclusive offers that give them a substantial discount on a business’ products and services.

So, how can you ensure your emails are wanted in customer inboxes? Start by experimenting with your email frequency to find your “sending sweet spot,” or how often your customers want to hear from you before engagement drops off. If you don’t have one already, consider introducing an email preference center, where recipients can opt in and out of specific communications from your brand—like newsletters, the latest deals, product updates, and more—so they can decide how frequently they hear from your brand. 

Lastly, ensure it’s clear who your emails are coming from and what they’re about. Having a clear sender (either your company or an employee’s name) and concise subject line lets your customers easily and quickly determine who an email is from and if they’ll find it relevant or interesting. This can help reduce any frustration and ensure your customers enjoy seeing your brand’s emails hit their inboxes. 

In our messaging engagement reports in other countries, we found that the majority of messaging recipients enjoy receiving SMS/MMS messages from their favorite brands. However, our surveys and interviews in Germany told a different story. Germans of all ages seem less open to receiving branded texts than their global counterparts. 

For the most part, Germans view their text messaging inboxes as a private space and don’t want to give their number away for marketing purposes. The majority of respondents also said they found branded text messaging to be outdated and old-fashioned, instead preferring to interact with their favorite brands via email or social media. One millennial even told our team, “SMS messages are like dinosaurs. WhatsApp or Messenger are much more modern.”

Keep that in mind if you plan to text your German prospects and customers. Your texts might not be welcome at all and your efforts might be better spent exploring other channels your audiences prefer. Just remember, every audience is different and no one knows yours quite like you do. If your subscribers do want to hear from you over text, use these insights and best practices to create engaging SMS/MMS content

How often do customers want texts? 

While the majority of consumers (33%) preferred to receive branded SMS/MMS messages once a day, 24% only want one message a month—that’s a fairly steep disparity. Interestingly enough, baby boomers were the only generation less likely to want to receive daily text messages from their favorite brands. On the other hand, only 16% of baby boomers were open to once-a-day SMS/MMS messages, while 26% of Gen Zers and 24% of millennials and Gen Xers were interested in more frequent messaging.  

What makes a good text message?

If you’re looking for the secrets to creating engaging texts time and time again, our respondents shared the factors that are most likely to influence them to open or click a text message (or not). 

Here’s what they said strongly influenced their likelihood to engage with a message: 

  1. Content (30%) 
  2. Offer/discount (29%)
  3. Critical information (26%) and relevant products (26%)
  4. Brand (24%)

Overall, the results were fairly close, which could suggest that consumers expect all of these factors to be present in order to engage with a branded SMS. As we’ve established, Germans are less open to receiving marketing text messages than other global consumers, so it makes sense that they would have higher expectations and require brands to go above and beyond in order for them to consider engaging with a message.

We also asked respondents to share how frequently they interact with branded SMS/MMS content when they do receive it. Overall, only 23% of consumers said they very frequently or frequently interact with SMS messaging, while the highest percentage of people said they can only sometimes can be found reading or clicking a link in a text. Of all the generations, millennials were the most likely to frequently or very frequently interact with SMS messages (30%), while baby boomers were the least likely at 18%. Baby boomers and Gen Z were the most likely to ignore the messages they receive, with 13% of each generation admitting they never interact with promotional texts. 

Why don’t customers like branded SMS? 

When we asked our respondents why they don’t like to receive branded texts, they had strong opinions, like: texting is personal and brands should stick to marketing via social media and email. 

But, whether your business is sending messages on SMS, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, you’re probably wondering how you can send messages that don’t turn your customers away. Here are the top factors our recipients say turn them off from branded text messaging:

  1. Messages with grammatical/spelling errors or from an unknown sender
  2. Irrelevant content
  3. Receiving messages too frequently from the same brand 

German consumers didn’t find pushy or unpersonalized content as egregious of errors, on the other hand, with only 32% of consumers reporting those factors turn them off. Both Gen Z and millennials were more sensitive to spelling errors, with 69% of each generation listing it as a top turn-off. Millennials were the most likely of any age group to be upset by pushy messaging (22%), while almost half of all baby boomers were strongly irked by it

When we asked our interviewees what the perfect branded text message would look like, they wanted to see concise messages, exceptional deals, and content relevant to their interests. Only then, did they say they would they find receiving marketing text messages valuable and worth their time. 

Still, most consumers echoed they’d like brands to stay out of their SMS inboxes, saying they prefer interacting with their favorite companies via email and on social media. If you are looking for new ways to market to German consumers, you might want to step back and see if your audience even wants to hear from you via SMS. Every audience is unique, so experiment and use data to understand where and how your customers want to engage with your brand.

Looking to introduce SMS/MMS to your communications strategy?

Talk to a member of the Twilio team and find the right SMS solution for your business!

Chapter 6: Conclusion

We hope this report has given you new insight into how German consumers prefer to interact with branded communications. Just remember, age group is only one way to segment your users. Segmenting your data using other demographic or behavioral information can help you conduct your own messaging engagement report and determine where and how your prospects and consumers want to engage with your brand. 

We hope this report inspires you to think more critically about your email and SMS/MMS marketing campaigns and kickoff your own analysis of your company’s audience. 

Interested in learning how you can scale your email and SMS marketing strategies? Talk to a member of The Twilio SendGrid team, or check out our 2020 Global Messaging Engagement Report for a more detailed look at how other consumers in other countries engage with email and SMS.

Get Started with SendGrid

SendGrid helps you focus on your business without the cost and complexity of owning and maintaining an email infrastructure. And with a full-featured marketing email service that offers a flexible workflow, powerful list segmentation, and actionable analytics, all of your email needs are met in one simple platform.