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The Average American Knows How to Deal with Spam

According to a survey conducted by the Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC), email recipients are brutal in-box editors when it comes to deleting potential spam. They're also willing to take a greater role in stopping spam and fraudulent messages than some may have thought.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by marketing research firm Ipsos for the ESPC, found that 73 percent of respondents have used email for six or more years and over 80 percent check their e-mail at least once per day. Those surveyed also showed a familiarity and affinity for using Report Spam and Unsubscribe features, with over 80 percent of respondents using each of them to manage their inboxes.

Additionally, the results indicate a clear desire by consumers for greater support from ISPs, email providers, and marketers so that they can more easily control their mail experience. Most would like to see tools like "Unsubscribe" and "Report Fraud" buttons (90 percent and 80 percent respectively) added to their email programs. 53 percent of respondents claimed they would be more likely to open and read email if the sending company was certified with an icon displayed in the email inbox.

The message to senders and ISPs/mail program providers is clear. For senders, building trust and confidence are a priority, and these best practices should be followed:

  • Give careful attention to the "FROM" address and "SUBJECT" line of emails.
  • Make it easier to "unsubscribe" than to "report as spam."
  • Use the information provided by recipients who report spam to understand WHY they are dissatisfied with your email program.
  • Examine third-party options for certifying your practices.

Both senders and receivers can walk away with important lessons from these survey results:

Reporting Spam:

The survey results indicate a high awareness and knowledge of the "Report spam" function and its purpose.

  • Approximately 83 percent of respondents indicate that they have used a "Report Spam" button.
  • 80 percent decide whether to click on the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button without opening the actual message;
    • 73% base the decision on "FROM"
    • 69% base the decision on "SUBJECT"
  • 79 percent of panelists indicate they use the "Report Spam" button when they don't know who the sender is.
  • Just 20 percent admit to using the "Report Spam" button as a quick way to unsubscribe.
  • 66 percent were willing to provide additional information on why they were reporting something as spam

Unsubscribing: Similarly, consumer responses indicate a familiarity and understanding of the unsubscribe process.

  • 82 percent of panelists use the unsubscribe features provided when they want to stop receiving email from a company from which they had previously requested to receive email.
  • Trust in unsubscribe is high with 71 percent of panelists indicating that they believe unsubscribe links work, and 48 percent of respondents reporting that they use unsubscribe links even when they don't recognize the sender.

Consumer views about their email programs: Consumers clearly want more tools with which to fight spam and phishing threats.

  • 90 percent of panelists indicate that they would appreciate having an "Unsubscribe" button built directly into their email program and indicated they would use such a feature if it were added to their email program
  • 80 percent of panelists believe there should be a "Report Fraud" button in their email program.
  • Nearly 70 percent believe that information gained from a "Report Fraud" button should be shared across North America; and further nearly 70 percent believe such information should be shared worldwide.

Consumer views about their Junk Folder: Overall, panelists report that the mail they request to receive is not getting lost in their junk folders.

  • 64 percent of panelists report that they rarely or never see messages that they've requested in their bulk boxes
  • 80 percent of panelists report that 5 percent or less of their messages that they requested or wanted to receive land in the bulk folder.

Consumer views about certification of email: Overall, consumers are looking for help in determining which senders they can trust.

  • Generally, respondents would support senders having their practices and policies certified by 3rd parties.
  • Respondents are considerably more likely to open and read email from senders whose practices are certified by a 3rd party and identified in the inbox with an icon. While 53 percent would be more likely to open and read such identified email, just 18 percent would not be more likely to open and read the message.

Source: ESPC

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