Consumers reporting legitimate e-mail as spam: Q Interactive

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Fifty-six percent of consumers consider marketing messages from known senders to be spam if the message is "just not interesting to me" and 50% consider "too frequent e-mails from companies I know" to be spam, according to a new study by Q Interactive conducted in conjunction with marketing research firm MarketingSherpa.

The study, called Spam Complainers Survey, investigated consumer perceptions of what they consider to be spam, why they report e-mails as spam and what they think happens when the "report spam" button is clicked.

According to the report, 31% of respondents said that they consider "e-mails that were once useful but aren't relevant anymore,” to be spam.

Interestingly, respondents said that they hit the “report spam” button for various reasons. Forty-one percent report spam if "the e-mail was not of interest to me,” 25% if "I receive too much e-mail from the sender" and 20% if "I receive too much e-mail from all senders.”

But consumers do not always understand the meaning of hitting this button. More than half of respondents — 56% — think that clicking the button will "filter all e-mail from that sender" while 21% believe it will notify the sender that the recipient did not find that specific e-mail useful so the sender will "do a better job of mailing me" in the future.

Surprisingly, 47% of respondents believe by hitting the “report spam” button, they will be unsubscribed from the list.

The survey also found that 43% of respondents do not use unsubscribe links in e-mail and simply use the ISP's "report spam" button to unsubscribe from an advertiser's list.

To address this miscommunication among consumers, Q Interactive is calling on the industry to better educate consumers and for ISPs to better process this data.

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