Retailers savvier about e-mail subscriber control in 2009: Responsys

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Retailers are giving consumers more control over e-mail opt-outs, according to a report from Responsys. The Web marketing firm's latest “Retail Email Unsubscribe Benchmark Study” found that 35% of retailers let consumers reduce the number of messages they received during 2009. This number was up from 16% in 2008.

“Retailers, and hopefully other marketers as well, have come around by allowing subscribers to have that kind of control,” said Chad White, research director at Responsys and author of the study. “Sending e-mails too frequently is consistently one of the top reasons that people unsubscribe from them, so letting consumers chose their frequency is a great opportunity to keep them subscribed. There is really nothing to lose by giving them an opportunity to dictate what that cadence would be.”

The report measured the opt-out processes of 100 online retailers' e-mail marketing programs, tracked via the Retail Email Blog. The report also found that 39% of major online retailers require three or more clicks to opt out, up from 7% in 2008. In addition, 30% of retailers sent one or more e-mails following an unsubscribe request in 2009, up from 26% in 2008.

“Retailers have a lot of unnecessary clicks built in to the opt-out process,” said White. “This should be easier, because if it's not easy, then consumers will click that ‘report spam' button.”

White added that many retailers haven't updated their opt-out pages to invite consumers to interact via social networks. Only 7% of retailers did this last year, despite more than 30% including community links in e-mails.

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