The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) revealed recently results of its second annual OTA Email Unsubscribe Audit. OTA reported that 75% of the top 200 online retailers (according to the Internet Retailer Top 500 list) have moved beyond basic compliance, demonstrating a commitment to user empowerment and control of their inboxes. These companies have been named to the 2015 Unsubscribe Honor Roll, recognizing excellence in marketing practices. Companies achieved this distinction by scoring 80% or higher on a weighted blend of 12 best practice criteria related to the unsubscribe process and results. Merchants also improved significantly in their honoring of unsubscribe requests.

OTA Email Unsubscribe Audit Report Result

“We are encouraged by the improvement we’ve seen since last year, especially in honoring of opt-out requests,” said Jeff Wilbur, Chairman of OTA. “Now more than ever companies need to provide consumers choice and control and honor those choices. This increases trust and engagement while enhancing the vitality of the online experience.”

Industry Leaders Embrace Unsubscribe Best Practices

OTA named retailers whose email marketing programs achieved a score of at least 80%, and highlighted those who achieved a perfect score on all 12 best practices, as shown below. Only nine companies repeated with perfect scores in both 2014 and 2015 (shown in bold).

report_OTA

Evaluation Criteria

The OTA unsubscribe best practices were based on the 2014 criteria and public comments received over the past 12 months. For 2015, weighting was applied to the criteria and definitions were tightened for some best practices, effectively “raising the bar” for Unsubscribe Honor Roll achievement. OTA researchers signed up for and subsequently opted out of the top 200 online retailers’ mailing lists in late July of 2015, evaluating retailers on both regulatory compliance and adoption of these best practices.

Unsubscribe best practices criteria included using a clear and conspicuous opt-out link with clear language; having unsubscribe text that is easy to read and visible; using an unsubscribe header; presenting a branded confirmation page for the opt out; providing users the option to unsubscribe, opt-down or make other changes to marketing emails; soliciting feedback when a consumer opts out; and immediately removing consumers from a subscription list once they opt out.

You can download the full report here.