August 05, 2008

New Chart: Email Recipients Give New Meaning to ‘Spam’: 3 Takeaways

SUMMARY: Many more email recipients are hitting the ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ button for ‘legitimate’ emails simply because the content does not interest them. As a result, they are giving a new definition to spam without worrying about the consequences to senders with excellent reputations, products and marketing practices.
New Chart: 5 Reasons Recipients Hit 'Spam' or 'Junk' Button

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Late last year, MarketingSherpa fielded a study with Q Interactive to a very interesting population: people who had recently hit the ‘Report SPAM’ or ‘Junk’ buttons in their respective email clients (AOL, MSN or Yahoo!). We explored how these buttons get used, the perceptions of spam and the effect on “legitimate” email marketers. Why the quotation marks around the word legitimate? Because the defining theme of the study is that, in the eyes of more recipients, many opt-in mailers are merciless spammers.

This chart details the reasons why people hit the ‘spam’ or ‘junk’ buttons over a 30-day period. Notably, the second most cited reason – The email I received was not of interest to me – has nothing to do with permission or responsible mailing practices. The content simply wasn’t compelling so the recipient simply wrote off the mailer.

Inbox overload – the #1 challenge as ranked by more than 2,000 respondents to our last survey – is cited by 20% as a reason for hitting the spam button. As filters get better, the competition for eyeballs is going to be less with vendors of romantic pharmacology than with other legitimate emailers.

Key takeaways:

1. Email marketers who cling to mailing practices that emphasize list quantity over quality will face increasing deliverability challenges.

2. Tracking email reputation requires more than an occasional check from a free service. MarketingSherpa and PivotalVeracity conducted a study in late 2007 confirming that those emailers receiving high reputation scores from one or more free services were not immune to being mistakenly blocked or placed in the bulk folder.

3. Recipients define spam by the quality of the email itself – not by the overall reputation of the company emailing them. They’re not worried about how hitting the ‘spam’ button will affect your organization. So, consumers view ‘spammers’ as a much larger group than most marketers do, including many mailers with excellent brands and marketing practices.

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