Survey: Email Users Favor Delete Key

At last week's FTC Spam Forum in Washington, DC, much was said about the notion that most people are afraid of clicking the "unsubscribe" link in email they get from sources they're unfamiliar with for fear of validating their own email address as "live" and opening the door to more spam. Here's some actual data to shed some light on the issue.

Bigfoot Interactive, the provider of email solutions, recently conducted what is possibly the first of nationwide survey on email, and found that the majority of email users turned to the delete key as their preferred method of eliminating all types of unwanted email, including both unsolicited and solicited.

The Bigfoot Interactive OmniTel telephone survey, conducted across users with home Internet access by RoperASW, explores consumer perceptions, behaviors and interests in regard to receiving, unsubscribing and using email.

Notably, the survey did uncover a greater percentage of consumers using the block feature, setting a filter or clicking on "Report Spam" or "This is Spam" buttons/links as their preferred way of eliminating unwanted, unsolicited email sent without an existing business relationship in comparison to that of other types of email communications. In addition, email users expressed clear email and inbox preferences to further distinguish critical requested email communications from other types of emails received.

The survey also found that the highest use of new spam reporting tools like the "Report Spam" or "This is Spam" button/link as a preferred method to eliminate unwanted email occurred with unsolicited pornography (4.8%). In addition, women were nearly twice as likely to use the "Report Spam" or "This is Spam" button/link (6.2% women vs. 3.4% men) or set a filter against pornography (6.1% women vs. 3.1% men). The lowest preferred use for such tools was for unwanted marketing or promotional messaging that was originally requested (permission-based) (0.8%).

According to Bigfoot's data, 79% of email users agreed that their ISP or email service provider should treat unsolicited email containing pornography differently than other types of unsolicited email. What's more, 57.7% of respondents agreed that attempting to unsubscribe from unwanted emails has resulted in receiving additional unwanted email, and 89.7% of respondents agreed that they would prefer that their ISP or email service provider include an unsubscribe option that would safely remove them from email lists.

Confirming the sentiments of many panelists at the Spam Forum who said the main problem with ISP technologies that block or filter email currently is that legitimate messages never make it to the intended recepient, 38.2% of the survey respondents agreed that they recently have not received a requested email sent to them by a trusted source (such as a friend, family member or company with which they have a business relationship). Also, 28.6% of respondents agreed that a requested communication from a trusted source was delivered to a junk mail folder

Additionally, 52.3% of respondents agreed that they would prefer to have billing alerts and critical service-oriented emails sent to a separate folder and 50.4% of respondents agreed that they would subscribe to a free service that guaranteed the delivery of critical communications such as billing alerts.

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