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More Retailers Send Emails after Unsubscribe Request

While the percentage of online retailers failing to honor unsubscribe requests has held steady, more retailers are sending a higher number of emails following those requests.

According to a new report from Responsys, 4% of retail email unsubscribe requests failed in 2010. This percentage remained flat from 2008. Online retailers did make progress in the amount of time it took to honor opt-outs, with all retailers in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 honoring opt-out requests within seven days.

More Consumers Get Emails after Unsubscribing

Of more concern to the online retail industry than the low unsubscribe failure rate are increases in the frequency and amount of emails being sent out to consumers after they have made unsubscribe requests, writes Retailer Daily.

Because retail email volume is up 12% year-over-year as reported by Responsys, more retailers sent emails after an unsubscribe request was submitted in 2010 than in 2008. 30% of online retailers sent subscribers at least one email following an opt-out request in 2010, compared to 26% in 2008.

While 17% of online retailers sent one email after an opt-out request was place in 2010, 5% sent two emails afterward and 8% sent three or more afterward. In 2008, slightly more online retailers sent one email after an opt-out request (18%), but the percentages sending two (2%) or three or more emails (6%) following a request were appreciably lower.

Responsys advises that every email which goes out after an unsubscribe request is likely to shake the ex-subscriber’s faith that the opt-out was successful, increasing the chance they will report a retailer’s communication as spam in order to cease receiving emails from them.

Opt-out Confirmations Provide Opportunity

In addition to helping eliminate the problem of sending emails after an unsubscribe request, a well-designed opt-out confirmation process can provide online retailers with other opportunities as well, according to other findings from the Responsys survey.

In 2010, 20% of online retailers include a survey to understand a customer’s reasons for unsubscribing and gather improvement suggestions. This is almost double the percentage of online retailers (11%) who did so in 2008.

16% of online retailers include a goodbye/thank you message this year, which is slightly less than the 18% who did so in 2008. The only other opt-out confirmation activities which are less popular now than in 2008 are a link to provide feedback, ask questions or take a survey (dropped 5% to 4%) and an opportunity/reminder to subscribe from other address (dropped 4% to 3%).

The percentage of online retailers who provide customers notification they will still receive transactional emails also doubled, from 7% to 14%. The frequency with which online retailers offer a feedback form for customer comments increased nine-fold, from 1% to 9%. Providing an overt reminder of other messaging channels increased from usage by 2% to 7% of online retailers.

The statistics and charts in this report are based on data collected from November 2009 through January 2010 while unsubscribing from the email marketing programs of 100 major U.S. online retailers tracked by the Responsys Retail Email Blog.

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