Retailers work on e-mail subscriptions: EEC study

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Retailers are getting savvy about e-mail sign ups, according to the third annual  Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study, put out by The Email Experience Council (EEC), the e-mail marketing arm of the Direct Marketing Association.

The new study found that retailers are putting more focus on list hygiene with 38% of retailers surveyed asking subscribers to confirm their e-mail address by re-entering it when opting in. This is up from 27% last year.  In addition, 5% of retailers are now using a confirmed (double) opt-in process, up from 3% last year, which improves list quality and assures that consumers know for what they are opting in.

“I think it's a very good sign that retailers are paying more attention to list hygiene,” said Chad White, director of retail insights/editor-at-large at the EEC.

The new study examined the opt-in practices of 120 of the top online retailers tracked via the Retail Email Blog also found that using incentives to entice consumers is more popular again. While 27% of retailers used this tactic in 2006, only 8% did last year when the idea that these consumers may not be as loyal was more accepted. Perhaps this is not true, as 13% of retailers are back to using this kind of tactic.

“Incentives are not known to attract the highest quality of names, but I think that with this new rise retailers are being more careful about their offers,” White added.

The study also found that retailers are less likely to put privacy policies upfront during the subscription process, probably do to speculation that this scares consumers away.  This year only 36% of retailers mentioned their privacy policy, down from 45% last year.

Interestingly, despite quicker subscription fulfillments across the board, 29% of retailers took 15 days or longer to honor opt-ins or failed to honor them all together, which is the same percentage as last year.

“Retailers often have a lot of channels to sign up and I'm wondering if they are not auditing their subscription process via all of these channels,” said White.

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