Study Finds Nearly One-Third of Email Addresses Change Each Year

By Dan Orzech

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Seeing a lot of email from "postmaster" with the word "undeliverable" in the subject line? Don't take it personally: According to a new study, 31% of email addresses change annually. As a result, more than half of the owners of those addresses lose touch with personal and professional contacts, as well as preferred Web sites.

E-mail address turnover is driven by ISP switching, job changes and consumer efforts to avoid SPAM, according to the survey, which also found that young people are significantly more likely to lose email contacts than older individuals. Fifty-three percent of young adults lost email contacts, compared to 42% of older people.

The study, conducted by research firm NFO WorldGroup, found that half of all Web site relationships are lost due to e-mail address changes. While consumers, on average, registered their e-mail address with more than twelve Web sites, according to the study, e-mail address changers only notified about six Web sites of the change. And 22% of those who changed an e-mail address did not notify any Web site about the change.

The study was commissioned by Global Name Registry, license operator of the .name top-level domain, and by Return Path Inc., which provides an e mail change of address service. Return Path processes more than one million consumer-registered e-mail address changes each month, according to the company. It is the e-mail change of address service for the United States Postal Service's online moving portal.