The One Email Stat You Should Question
By Ken Magill
There is one email statistic that is casually thrown around as if everyone agrees it’s true and yet I can’t find it definitively sourced—I suspect because it’s not true.
The stat is that 30 percent of people change their email addresses annually.
The 30-percent-change stat is used as an argument for email list hygiene and there is certainly nothing wrong with recommending good list hygiene. But, just as with the age-old debate on email engagement, I suspect this bit of conventional wisdom is being used to push for more aggressive list trimming than is necessary.
Sure, business email addresses change as people change employers, but 30 percent of U.S. employees certainly are not switching employers on a yearly basis.
U.S. workers had an average job tenure of 4.6 years in 2012, the last year for which figures are available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It’s difficult to believe any country with an Internet-connected labor force is so fluid, business email addresses change at a rate of even close to thirty percent annually.
So what about consumers who move and change Internet service providers and their email addresses as a result? It’s safe to assume a significant percentage of movers have web-based email accounts that don’t change as a result of a move.
Moreover, after peaking at 15 percent in 2002, the percentage of Americans that move annually dipped and is now at about 12 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
Also, switching primary email addresses is a pain. Password-protected sites often—if not always—require email addresses. If a user forgets their password, the site sends it to the email address associated with the account.
Online retail and social-media accounts are associated with people’s email addresses, as well.
Does it make sense that 30 percent of people are taking the time to switch primary email addresses annually, re-subscribe to every sender from whom they want to get email and update all their corresponding accounts? Does it make sense that 30 percent of Amazon.com’s email file goes bad every year? Not to me, it doesn’t.
Common sense says email addresses used in online financial transactions don’t go bad at even close to 30 percent per year.
And if anyone can show otherwise—particularly, where that 30-percent-email-churn stat originally came from—I’m all ears.