October 16, 2002, 12:00 AM

E-mail address churn doesn’t let up, says a new study

A new study says the average consumer now has 3.1 e-mail addresses, up from 2.6 two years ago, and 31% change their e-mail addresses in a year. 22% of consumers do not notify businesses when their e-mail addresses change.

Even as e-mail marketing becomes a more widely used medium, the complexity of managing e-mail marketing continues to grow. A new study from Return Path Inc., which provides e-mail change of address services, and Global Name Registry says the average consumer now has 3.1 e-mail addresses, up from 2.6 two years ago, and 31% change their e-mail addresses in a year.

“The rate of e-mail address turnover continues unabated from the pace we first identified in September 2000,” said Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, “In addition to the impact on consumer relationships identified, there is a real and significant subsequent financial impact on reputable businesses that rely on e-mail to communicate with their customers.”

The changes in personal e-mail addresses are driven by consumers’ changing their Internet service providers (50%), efforts to avoid floods of unwanted e-mail (16%) and the desire for a more attractive e-mail address (8%). The change in business e-mail addresses came from new jobs (41%), workplace ISP change (18%) and a name change (6%). The survey was conducted by research firm NFO WorldGroup.

Consumers also say they are not likely to notify business of their new e-mail addresses. While the average consumer registers an e-mail address with more than 12 web sites, e-mail address changers notified only six web sites of the change, in addition to personal or professional contacts. And 22% of those who changed an e-mail address did not notify any website about the change.

“The volume and frequency of e-mail address changes over the past two years suggests that consumers have simply come to accept the hassles that accompany such action,” said Earl Quenzel, vice president sales and marketing, Global Name Registry, which offers a lifetime e-mail address that redirects incoming mail to a current e-mail account.

The study is to be released next week at the Direct Marketing Association’s annual conference in San Francisco.


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