A report by Responsys, the ‘Retail Email Unsubscribe Benchmark Study’, found top etailers make it difficult to unsubscribe.

The study found for 39% of major online retailers, consumers were required to make three clicks to opt-out from email subscriber lists, up 7% from 2008. Responsys says, “It’s a worrisome trend since anything beyond two clicks simply represents poor process design.” Furthermore, 30% of retailers send one or more emails after an unsubscribe request has been submitted, up 4% from 2008.

“Savvy marketers respect their email subscribers and provide relevant content to drive engagement—and they also let subscribers go when they’re not engaged,” said Ed Henrich, vice president of professional services at Responsys. “Marketers need to make it easy to unsubscribe and to re-subscribe when the time is right. One of my favorite ratios is the number of buyers divided by the number of unsubscribers: how many people today thought you hit the mark versus totally missed the mark?”

The study also found:

  • 35% of retailers allow subscribers to reduce the number of emails received from them, up 16% since 2008,
  • Just 7% of retailers present alternate channels (RSS, Facebook) to departing subscribers. This is in contrast to more than 30% including social media links in eDM, and
  • The number of retailers who don’t honour opt-outs means 4% of retailers are non-compliant with the CAN-SPAM act.

“When you’re competing against the ruthless efficiency and trustworthiness of the ‘report spam’ button, your email opt-out process needs to be friction-free and provide options ISPs can’t give their users,” said Chad White, research director at Responsys and author of the study. “But an examination of the unsubscribe processes of the largest online retailers shows plenty of room for improvement on both those points.”

The report can be read here.