Study Finds That E-Mail Address Changes Undermine Marketing Efforts

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When consumers change their e-mail addresses, only 10 percent to 20 percent of them tell marketers and update their e-mail subscriptions to online newsletters, Web sites and discussion lists, according to a study released today.

The study found that consumers are using e-mail more than ever and are changing their addresses frequently. It found that 74 percent of the respondents own two or more e-mail addresses and that they tend to have a specific address for work, school, home and Web-based promotions, and another constant address in case they change jobs or leave school.

The annual rate of e-mail address changes, or e-mail churn, is about 32 percent, the study found. About 41 percent of consumers have changed their e-mail addresses at least once in the past two years, with 15 percent changing their addresses two or more times in that period.

"Clearly, there is no standard process for changing an e-mail address that resembles the U.S. Postal Service's system for changing mailing addresses," said Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path. "With e-mail churn rates of over 30 percent, businesses who rely on e-mail to communicate with their customers and drive advertising and commerce are experiencing millions of dollars in lost revenue opportunities and wasted marketing money."

The study was conducted by NFO Research and commissioned by Return Path Inc., New York. The survey was based on the responses of 1,912 consumers age 18 and older who own a PC and have access to the Internet.

Return Path operates an e-mail management and change of address service.

The rate of adoption of permission-based commercial e-mail continues to grow, according to the Return Path study. It noted that 96 percent of consumers have requested e-mail from businesses, primarily from online newsletters, Web sites and discussion groups. The average consumer receives permission-based e-mail from seven businesses.

The study found that only 20 percent of consumers notified any regularly visited Web site of a changed e-mail address and 17 percent notified businesses that regularly send them e-mail. Only 13 percent of consumers notified Web sites where they make regular purchases of their new e-mail addresses and 9 percent notified discussion lists of the change.

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