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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

  • March 23, 2010

Retail Email Unsubscribe Benchmark Study 2010: Executive Summary

One of the most important benchmarks for your unsubscribe process is the single click of the “report spam” button. Consumers have increasingly shown that they have no qualms about using it to rid their inboxes of opt-out email from brands they know and even permission emails they signed up for but no longer want.

When you’re competing against the ruthless efficiency and trustworthiness of the “report spam” button, your opt-out process needs to be friction-free and provide options ISPs can’t give their users. But an examination of the unsubscribe processes of the largest online retailers shows plenty of room for improvement on both those points.

For instance, 39% of major online retailers require three or more clicks to opt-out, up from 7% in 2008. It’s a worrisome trend since anything beyond two clicks simply represents poor process design. Also, 30% of retailers send one or more emails following an unsubscribe request, up from 26% in 2008.

“Savvy marketers respect their email subscribers and provide relevant content to drive engagement—and they also let subscribers go when they’re not engaged,” said Ed Henrich, Vice President of Professional Services at Responsys. “Marketers need to make it easy to unsubscribe and to re-subscribe when the time is right. One of my favorite ratios is the number of buyers divided by the number of unsubscribers: How many people today thought you hit the mark versus totally missed the mark?”

This 24-page study takes you through the current state of retailers’ opt-out processes by drawing on data collected while unsubscribing from the email marketing programs of 100 top online retailers. It examines the opt-out process chronologically—looking at everything from unsubscribe instructions in emails, to opt-out page components and confirmations, to the honoring of unsubscribe requests—so you can easily map yours to the current general practice and where it’s trending.

Other key findings in the study include:

● In order to keep subscribers, marketers are giving subscribers more control over email frequency, with 35% of retailers allowing subscriber to reduce the number of emails they receive, up from 16% in 2008.

● Marketers remain icy and indifferent toward subscribers who opt out, as evidenced by the fact that only 16% of retailers say, “Goodbye” or “Thank you” to departing subscribers. That’s down from 18% in 2008.

● Marketers have been slow to present alternative channels like RSS and Facebook pages to departing subscribers. Only 7% of retailers do this currently, despite the fact that more than 30% of them include community links in their emails.

● Due to failures to honor opt-outs, 4% of retailers are not in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. That’s on par with 2008 levels.

Get the Full Report
>>Download the “Retail Email Unsubscribe Benchmark Study” from the Responsys Downloads page for free.

Other reports available from Responsys:
Majority of Retailers Fail Hotmail-Firefox Rendering Test
Retail Email Year-End Trends for 2009
Retail Email Guide to Multichannel Engagement
Many Retailers Not Optimizing Preheader Text
FTAF vs. SWYN
Email Navigation Differs Radically from Website Navigation
Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study
…and you can find even more reports on Responsys' Downloads page.
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