Retailers Not Capitalizing on Unsubscribes: EEC

By Jan 30, 2008

And here comes yet another study showing that most merchants are failing to take advantage of the opportunities presented when someone unsubscribes from their e-mail marketing program—this one from the E-mail Experience Council.

“This is where retailers fall down badly,” said the study. “They give subscribers few alternatives when they try to unsubscribe other than actually unsubscribing.”

While 27% of retailers in the study offered unsubscribers an opportunity to change their topic and/or newsletter preferences, and 23% gave them the opportunity to change their e-mail addresses, just 16% gave them the opportunity to receive less e-mail, according to the EEC. Also, 44% didn’t offer any alternatives to opting out, according to the study.

Also, while 73% sent no more e-mail after the opt-out request—federal law requires the e-mail to stop within 10 business days—4% of retailers were in violation of the Can Spam Act by either failing to honor opt outs or taking longer than 10 business days to do so, according to the EEC.

The EEC’s study comes on the heels of a study by e-mail service provider Lyris that also concluded most marketers fail to turn unsubscribes into opportunities.

According to Lyris, while 96% of e-mail marketers include an unsubscribe function in their promotional e-mails as required by federal law, almost two thirds said they use methods to discourage opt outs, such as putting unsubscribe language in tiny type or hiding it.

Hiding opt-out language is unwise for a number of reasons. For one thing, that those who can’t find the unsubscribe button may hit the spam-complaint button raising the chances the mailer’s e-mail will be blocked. Also, just because someone opts out of a merchant’s e-mail list doesn’t mean they’ve stopped being a customer, so it’s important to make sure the opt-out process is as painless as possible.

The EEC is a subsidiary of the Direct Marketing Association.