Consumers Get Spam Savvy

  |  October 13, 2003   |  Comments

Consumers have become adept at sorting wanted e-mail from unwanted spam.

Consumers are dealing with the deluge of spam by using bulk-mail folders and deleting email from unknown senders, according to a study.

The DoubleClick consumer survey found consumers are taking a number of preventative steps. One of the most popular steps is setting up a bulk-mail folder. More than 52 percent reported using such folders, up from 49 percent last year. They are also deleting more email, with 65 percent saying they delete spam, a 5 percent increase from a year ago. Just 4 percent said they read suspected spam to see if it might interest them.

The findings square with other research that's found consumers manage the spam problem as an everyday nuisance. Nearly 9-out-of-10 respondents to the DoubleClick survey tagged spam as the No. 1 problem with their email experience. However, their enthusiasm for commercial email has not waned. Over 90 percent reported receiving some kind of permission-based email, with over half saying they received offers from online or traditional retailers via email.

How do the following elements in a
permission-based email affect your likelihood
to respond?
Increase No Effect Decreases
Contains your name or address 16% 71% 13%
Contains relevant information 67% 28% 5%
Contains information based on interests
you've specified to that company
73% 23% 4%
Makes purchasing recommendations
based on your past purchaser likeliness
28% 57% 15%
Source: DoubleClick

The importance attached to email has led consumers to take a mostly low-tech approach to dealing with spam. Just 16 percent said they downloaded spam filters and 36 percent said they used spam-reporting buttons provided by Internet service providers and email programs.

Instead of relying on technological fixes, consumers are using common sense. Over 63 percent said they scrutinize the "from" line in emails to determine if it is legitimate email. The method squares with consumer definitions of spam: 95.5 percent said spam is email that uses deception and 93 percent said it was email from unknown senders.

Beyond Interactive conducted the DoubleClick survey, using the NFO//net source panel to poll 1,000 consumers who use email at least once a week.

What Compels You to Take Action on Emails
Special offer/Discount 35.0%
Product I needed at the time 37.8%
Appealing product 13.8%
Interesting message 6.6%
Unsubscribed from the mailing list 6.1%
Other 0.7%
Source: DoubleClick

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