Habeas, Inc. recently released its 2008 study of consumer attitudes towards email and online interaction with businesses. The study, completed in May 2008 by research firm Ipsos, found that consumers prefer email as a primary method of communications in their personal and business capacities; they will continue to prefer email in the future despite the rise of online threats and the emergence of other communication channels and Web 2.0 applications. The report also revealed an interest from consumers in gaining more control over their online interactions with businesses and an increasing level of concern over spam and virus threats reaching consumers through their mobile devices.
This year's research covered subjects as varied as security features and email protection, consumer abilities to identify spam, concerns about fraud, preferred modes of communications, online purchases resulting from email communications, email privacy, email unreliability and online marketing practices and reputation management.
Highlights from the study include:
--Sixty-seven percent of respondents prefer email as a communications channel over other online vehicles and 65 percent believe this will continue to be the case in five years.
--Consumer opinion of the future importance of email registered far above future expectations for video conferencing (19 percent), instant messaging (17 percent), SMS text messages (12 percent) and Web meetings (12 percent).
--Sixty-five percent of the demographic between the ages of 18 to 34, the age demographic most comfortable with IM, SMS and emerging communications methods, will favor email to communicate with businesses in five years.
Consumer Concerns Regarding Online Threats Increasing
--Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed expressed concern about being victimized by email fraud scams, a significant rise from the 62 percent finding in the 2007 Habeas report.
--Forty-three percent of respondents voiced concern over the spam and virus threat to mobile devices, which represents a rise from 2007's 36 percent and a sure reflection of the increasing use of the "mobile inbox" through smartphone and internet-enabled phone devices.
--As many as 35 percent of those surveyed do not know what to look for when trying to sift through emails that might potentially be dangerous.
Online Reputation Management Best Practices to Build Trust
--More than 88 percent of respondents said they would like organizations to give them more choices over the content and frequency of the emails they receive, including options on advertisements, special offers, articles, newsletters, white papers and other specific content options.
--More than 80 percent of participants favor doing business with organizations that use opt-in permission to send them email.
--Monthly emails and content and frequency options positively impacted a company's reputation.
--Three of every four respondents prefer engaging with organizations that exhibit strong privacy practices.
--Only 12 percent of respondents acknowledged making one or more purchases from businesses they did not know.
Online Business Practices to Avoid
--As many as one in four respondents lose some degree of faith in an organization that is unable to deliver email reliably.
--Daily email messages ranked with pop-up advertisements as the most damaging online tactics to a company's online reputation.
--On average, about 80 percent of respondents are not comfortable with businesses sharing their email address.
--Internet users believe that about two thirds of companies are likely to share their email addresses with third parties.
--More than 80 percent feel that a business' reputation is negatively affected if it shares customer email addresses with third parties.
The 2008 Habeas study confirmed the consumer "Email Insecurity Factor" findings uncovered in the 2007 study. This year's report again found that nearly 60 percent of users employ two or more personal email addresses, giving a different address to entities they do not trust while maintaining separate accounts for trustworthy sources.
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