links for 2007-10-22
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Lack of Trust in Email Continues to Pose a Significant Problem to Businesses and Consumers

As a holiday swell of online shopping and personal email traffic approaches, a new report released today reveals that consumers are suffering from an "Email Insecurity Factor" that could undermine the effectiveness of email communications and transactions.

The study, published by Habeas, found that while the US population is more dependent on email communications than ever before, the growing inconvenience of spam, a variety of online security threats and a lack of confidence in traditional solutions to counter these annoyances has led to significant levels of consumer insecurity around email communications. Habeas will discuss these findings in detail during a November 13, 2007 webinar entitled "Multichannel Revolution: How Web 2.0 and Online Reputation Changes Strategy and Results."

While 73 percent of study participants use email seven days a week and 61 percent do not believe they can do without email, 62 percent of respondents acknowledged concerns about becoming victims of fraud or other kinds of cyber crimes and nearly 60 percent agree that spam is becoming worse.

"This email insecurity factor has serious implications for how both consumers and businesses trust email for their respective communications," said Des Cahill, CEO, Habeas. "Despite the popularity, ubiquity, cost-effectiveness and targeted nature of email, online relationships and the interactions that enable them are very fragile. If individuals, marketers, businesses and Web 2.0 communities cannot place their trust in email, the Internet's premier 'killer app' will not reach its full potential as these groups could refrain from using it for higher value interactions."

More than half of participants indicated that they have responded to this email insecurity factor by using at least two or more personal email addresses on a regular basis. The study suggests this multiple identity phenomenon is a result of a lack of confidence in the measures in place to address consumer concerns.

Around 83 percent of people reported that their email user interface has a spam button and 23 percent were aware of a fraud mechanism built in to their email service. Yet, 12 percent were unaware of any security measures and 64 percent reported that legitimate emails regularly end up in their spam folders or do not arrive at all.

According to the study, individuals take their protection into their own hands with multiple email accounts registered to receive emails based on relationship trust levels. Over 80 percent refuse to unify the flow of emails to central addresses, suggesting the sentiment that these compartments of trust must be kept separate to accommodate consumer comfort levels when communicating online and via mobile email clients.

"Given the ease with which individuals can open email accounts, sending and receiving emails has become an issue of navigating a landscape of inboxes set up on the basis of trust," Cahill continued. "Despite email's advantages of high ROI versus other marketing channels, organizations must implement best practices in order to maintain a dialog with increasingly mistrustful and resourceful individuals. Consumers still want opt-in email offerings from their favorite brands. Businesses need to reach critical customer, partner, investor and other audiences. Online communities must maintain information flows which are the lifeblood of their Web 2.0 value propositions. The right email compliance and reputation standards can minimize consumer insecurity and strengthen online interactions and the commerce they enable."

Market research firm Ipsos, which conducted the study in September 2007, examined a variety of consumer perceptions on email and email programs, including the use of work email for personal activities, security features, use of multiple email accounts, redirecting email, spam and phishing concerns, unreliable email and the environmental benefits of email usage.

Habeas will discuss the Email Insecurity Factor, and provide a detailed report available for download, during the webinar entitled "Multichannel Revolution, How Web 2.0 and Online Reputation Changes Strategy and Results;" November 13, 2007 at 11:00 AM PST and 2:00 PM EST.  

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