Retailers make it easier to sign up for e-mail: EEC study

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About 43 percent of major online retailers allow customers to sign up for e-mail in just one click from their home page, according to the second annual Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study by the Email Experience Council. Although that is down from 50 percent last year, retailers continue to simplify the process of signing up for e-mail.

The study, which examined the e-mail-newsletter subscription practices of 118 of the top online retailers tracked by a retail e-mail blog www.retailemail.blogspot.com, identified a number of best practices and emerging best practices, as well as a former popular practice that appears to be declining.

For instance, fewer retailers required registration to sign up for e-mails, fewer asked for optional information during sign-up and more used JavaScript sign-up forms, which allow customers to complete more complex subscription forms without navigating away from the retailer's home page.

The study, available at www.emailexperience.org/Login-Whitepaper-Room, found that almost half of the retailers surveyed are addressing privacy concerns as a best practice. It also found that providing sample newsletters is an emerging best practice that should help reduce opt-outs, with nearly 12 percent of major online retailers doing that.

The study also shows that 92 percent of retailers have an e-mail sign-up form or link on their home page. Twenty-eight percent of retailers offer more than one content selection. In addition, only 3 percent of major online retailers use a double opt-in subscription process.

Thirty-one percent of the retailers require the subscriber's name and 18 percent require a ZIP code for e-mail registration.

Also, almost 12 percent of retailers offer plain-text versions of their newsletters during the sign-up process.

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