Customers defect as e-mail 'junk' definition widens

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on December 6, 2003

New research shows that 70.6% of consumers are ready to take their business elsewhere because of untargeted opt-in communications, and that 51.8% of opt-in e-mail messages are considered irrelevant or inappropriate, now being classed by consumers as '2nd Degree' junk e-mail, according to customer profiling firm, NCorp.

They firm's survey questioned 500 consumers about their attitudes toward opt-in marketing e-mail communications. It found 70% of consumers would give their business to another company if they were consistently sent '2nd Degree' junk e-mail, and that only 20.2% of marketing e-mails contain content tailored to an individual's preferences and interests.

However, 76.5% of consumers say they would respond more positively to personalised communications, with 40% feeling that untargeted and irrelevant opt-in e-mail is just as annoying, if not more so, than double-glazing sales people.

The vast majority (96.5%) of consumers feel that companies should have a duty of care to send out only marketing information and offers by e-mail that are likely to be relevant - and of interest - to each recipient.

Issues of trust
The survey also showed that trust is a major issue for consumers, with 71.8% of respondents saying they would be prepared to give companies additional private information if it was to be used only for personalising e-mails. But 63.5% would only do this if they trusted a company to protect their data adequately. Some 21.2% said they would not be prepared to give any details as they are not confident that current data protection legislation is enough to stop businesses misusing their personal information.

"The survey results are a wake up call for the marketing community," said Martin Blackburn, managing director of NCorp. "Clearly, urgent action needs to be taken to win back consumer confidence and prevent all e-mail marketing communications from becoming thought of as 'junk mail'."

The consumer response
But despite the proliferation of e-mail filtering products and services, the results of a survey by Bigfoot Interactive indicate a continued strong preference for individual or self-initiated filtering techniques. The use of the 'Delete' key, and simply ignoring unwanted e-mails, continue to be the overwhelmingly preferred methods for dealing with unwanted, unsolicited pornographic messages (74%) and unwanted commercial messages from unknown senders (83%).

Other results of Bigfoot's survey may explain why consumers are demonstrating such negative responses to poorly targeted and otherwise unwanted e-mails: there seems to be a long way to go before anti-junk mail services are as effective as consumers would like.

Consumer backlash
Survey respondents said they are most dissatisfied with the speed (19%) of the service they use to read their email, and its junk-fighting features (17%). They also acknowledged the continued problem with 'false positives', as more than 28% said that e-mail they requested from a trusted source was delivered to a junk mail folder, and 24% said they had recently lost or did not receive an e-mail that they expected from a trusted source.

"The identification and separation of wanted and unwanted email is a serious challenge to the industry and to consumers," explained Al DiGuido, CEO for Bigfoot Interactive.

For additional information:
·  Visit NCorp at
·  Visit Bigfoot at