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Retailers Make Big Strides In Offering Clear Unsubscribe Links

Fifth annual Online Trust Alliance survey said retailers get good marks for offering clear unsubscribe links, using tools like SPF and DKIM and honoring unsubscribe requests.

A survey of North America's top 200 retailers released this week by the Internet Society's Online Trust Alliance found they have made great progress in managing emails on their websites.

In fact, 84% of retailers have clear and conspicuous unsubscribe links on their websites, says Jeff Wilbur, the OTA's technical director.

Now in its fifth year, the "2018 Email Marketing & Unsubscribe Audit" also found 100% of the retailers use authentication tools like SPF and DKIM, 71% have DMARC records, and another 35% use DMARC enforcement. All of these tools have become generally accepted in the security industry for tracking and stopping email spoofing.

Another good number, according to Wilbur, is that 89% of retailers said they stop sending messages right after an unsubscribe request was submitted, as opposed to the permitted 10-day period.

"That's really a big one," Wilbur says. "People just want to know if they don't want the site to send them any more messages that they will stop sending them."

Vince Romney, director of information security at cosmetics company Younique Products, says the OTA survey mirrors many of the trends he has been seeing.

For starters, unsubscribe requests from users are being honored right away, he says. Younique has been using SPF and DKIM authentication built into Mimecast to filter emails and prevent spoofing, Romney added, plus the company has a very clear unsubscribe option on its website.

He also pointed out that many other retailer have stepped up their incident response activities. When he came on as security director in March, Younique started using AlienVault, which in effect serves as a SIEM for the company.

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