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No 2001-3 Tuesday, February 27, 2001









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  Consumers change their e-mail addresses more and more often - the limits of e-mail marketing  

We suspected it. A survey by NFO Worldgroup just confirmed it: consumers have more and more e-mail addresses (an average of 2.6 per consumer in the US) and they tend to change e-mail addresses more and more often: this is how 41 percent reported they changed an e-mail address at least once in the last two years, including 15 percent that changed e-mail addresses more than twice.

The leading reasons for e-mail address changes are the following: ISP switches, job changes but also more personal reasons.

The reasons why consumers never change e-mail addresses are just as interesting:

  • 36 percent are deterred from changes because they think there would be too many people to update,

  • 17 percent think it would be too time consuming,

  • 10 percent cite too many businesses to update,

  • and 6 percent say… they do not know how to change their e-mail address.

These figures prove that consumers set more value on their e-mail address than on their postal address and it goes without saying that this tendency should intensify as consumers get more mature.


In any case, the people in charge of e-mail lists should take this evolution into account if they want to keep their files up to date.

This survey also proves that consumers do not always bother to notify businesses of a change of e-mail address.

Indeed, only 37 percent of consumers notify any regularly visited web sites of a change in an email address, 31 percent notify businesses that regularly send them e-mails and 24 percent notify Web sites where they make regular purchases.

These figures constitute a new problem for Web marketers.

The quality of subscribers' files will depend more and more on how "fresh" collected information happens to be. This means that the e-mail base must be considered as a perishable asset that needs revising as soon as possible.

In my opinion, this phenomenon should contribute to make the acquisition cost of valid e-mail addresses even more expensive.

And yet, at the same time, e-mailing has become an integral part of everybody's life since 83 percent access email for work purposes at least once a day and 82 percent for personal reasons.

We can draw a double conclusion from all this, conclusion that happens to be very contrasted.

On the one hand, e-mailing is presently becoming THE easiest way to reach present and future customers, and arrives even before the phone and snail mail. On the other hand, the fact that e-mailing is becoming so generalised and trivialized will only result in increasing the acquisition cost of e-mail addresses.

Finally, the positive aspect is that the number of e-mail changes can be considered as a relevant indicator of the interest consumers really have for your site.

It consumers never bother to inform you of their e-mail address changes… this could mean that the relationship you've set up with them is not quite as strong as you thought it might be!

Source : Cyber Atlas

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