Email Address Turnover Costly

Email has easily been the largest boon to CRM in the past 10 years, but companies are finding many of their electronic messages falling on deaf cyberears. Research marketing firm NFO WorldGroup may have the answer to why, with its study revealing that 31 percent of email addresses get changed every year and that more than half the changers have lost touch with Web sites because of it. ISP switching was mentioned as the top reason (50 percent) for the change. Spam (16 percent), change of residence (12 percent), and a more attractive email address (8 percent) were also cited as factors. In addition the average changer only notified six Web sites of the move, and 22 percent of changers didn't bother to tell any Web site. Reasons for lack of notification varied from apathy to people not remembering all the Web sites they had registered with, according to NFO WorldGroup's marketing manager Margaret Bustell. "It's a lot easier to change your email address than your home address," Bustell says. "Look at how may problems direct mailers have when home-owners move and you get an idea of how big this email problem really is." Henry Harteveldt, senior Internet analyst for Forrester Research, says this problem not only hurts in terms of the registered client, but also in terms of referrals. "If you look at Internet travel," Harteveldt says, "forty-six percent of people use their email addresses as their main source of receiving info on travel fares, and thirty-two percent of them push that information on others. Therefore, losing email addresses has a huge residual effect." The key is to keep contact with the user's primary consumer email address, which comprises 76 percent of addresses that register with Web sites, according to survey. Harteveldt suggests having a "change of email address" form show up many times on both the companies' outgoing emails and on their Web sites. "But if your business emails start bouncing back unread," Harteveldt says, "the best thing you can do is call the consumer and ask if their address has changed. Many companies make the mistake of just giving up." The survey wasn't all bad news. The average consumer now registers with 12 Web sites, according to the survey, up 50 percent from 2000. And with people now having 3.1 e-mail addresses, up from 2.6, there's more chance to make contact with them than ever before. How you maintain contact with them, however, will truly tell the tale.
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