change email addres

Don’t Let Your Subscribers Change Their Email Addresses

No, you read that correctly. Have you tried to change your email address lately so that your credit card companies, utilities, magazines, stores and your other accounts can reach you? It’s almost impossible.

Companies spend millions of dollars building their subscriptions lists and then most give subscribers one choice: Unsubscribe. But I don’t want to unsubscribe. I have a new email address. I had to go through contortions to find out where to change it on almost every account I have.

Are you one of those companies that makes it so difficult for customers to change their email addresses that they simply unsubscribe?

This is no laughing matter.

Consumers Prefer Email

According to a recent study, email is the most preferred communication method for U.S. consumers. The researchers found that “the large majority of U.S. adults (72%) prefer communication with companies to happen through email.” Social media came in at a distant 20%.

The study went on, “Nine out of 10 (91%) of U.S. adults said they like to receive promotional emails from companies they already do business with.”

I hope the companies I’m about to highlight mend their ways. It’s pathetic when I have to Google “How do I change my email on AT&T?” Even that didn’t work so I called the company because I need to receive their messages.

For companies less important to me I did what they suggested: I unsubscribed. That is the ONLY immediate option you are given by many, many organizations. All that money invested in my subscription, only to lose me because they make is so difficult to change my profile.

Just Take a Look

Macy’s. I shop a lot at Macy’s. I think I’m getting lucky when underneath a recent email I read “My Account – My Profile.” I go to the page and see all my contact information. But I can’t click on my email to change it. I look around to figure out why I can’t but don’t find anything. In despair, I turn to Google: “How do I change my email address at Macy’s?”  I click on a link and this is the message I see:

Change email address

Are they kidding? I can change my home address, phone number and password, but not my email?

Con Edison. Con Ed is my local utility. I certainly can’t live without the electricity and gas they supply. How about including another bullet point, “Change your email address.”

change email address

Travelocity

I often use Travelocity to book airplane tickets and car rentals. Again, the only option is to unsubscribe.

Email Travelocity

JetBlue. I fly JetBlue almost exclusively to travel up and down the east coast. I dislike making such an example of JetBlue, but here is what I had to go through on their website. I guessed that Preference Center was the place where I could change my email address.

Change email address

Ooops. This is what I saw when I clicked on the link:

Change email address

Undeterred, I clicked on “Get Answers” and then clicked on a drop down menu – do you see anywhere to change my profile information? Nada.

Email Jet Blue 3

Finally, I Googled “How do I change my email address at Jet Blue?” and found a link that took me to:

Change email address

Sounds complicated.

Is this the dashboard? Is this a term that most flyers would understand? To be fair, after looking over the rest page, I did find a box that said “Dashboard.”But why put me through hoops with all those extra steps?

Change email address

Delta. To give credit where it’s due, Delta did it right and first asked me to update my email preferences. Personally, I would have dropped the unsubscribe option on this page. The unsubscribe could have been included in the email options. Don’t make it so easy for me to unsubscribe.

change email address
If you are selling directly online and conducting email campaigns, do you make it easy for your subscribers to change their email addresses? If you don’t, then you can expect a lot your most valued customers to click on “Unsubscribe.” That’s a lot of lost opportunities for future sales.

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Comments

  1. Jeannette while it is a hassle I like that online changing of an email address is disappearing. I’ve experienced this with a couple of places. To me, it’s just as uncomplicated to make a telephone call, prove somehow I am ME, and then a rep at the other end takes my changes. Or the other way it is happening is, I email directly. They ask for emails from each account – the one I want to delete and the one I want to add – that is also for me acceptable.

    These days with so much hacking into accounts everywhere, someone else MAY be trying to make the change for me. Those companies or organizations who are moving to other ways to change seem to be ahead of this curve.

    • Patricia — I see your point, but even when you call or email a company to change your email, they are inputting the information into the same system as you would be if you changed it directly online. I definitely think they should provide the online option because many people are not going to bother calling or emailing. They’ll just hit unsubscribe if it’s not that important — I know I did.

      • Just to follow on this string. Even though in theory Patricia is, in my opinion, correct, the hassle factor in calling these companies is huge. Being passed from one rep to the other, placed on hold, hung up on, ugh. It would be a lot easier if we could verify ourselves and do it all online.

        • Tim — I agree and the rep on the phone is inputting your new email address into the same system as you would be doing it online. So I don’t see much difference in the potential for hacking.

  2. Hi Jeannette, wow with all the time and energy, not to mention money, it takes to build that customer mail list you think they’d value it like gold, and certainly not want the only option for people to have is unsubscribe. I’d have to think it just must not have bubbled up to the right persons attention that this problem is going on. Or else not that many people change their email addresses, probably for this very reason. Hopefully your post will get shared and Macy’s etc will make it much easier to make this simple change.

    • Susan — I agree. I think the problem is with the corporate silos. The marketing department develops the promotions and the IT department implements them. But somebody in marketing should be tracking this in my view.

  3. That is really puzzling. Why on earth wouldn’t they make it easy to change our email addresses? Fortunately I maintain my plain jane personal address and don’t expect it to change any time soon. Who knows though, the need can happen because we don’t have control of the ways providers may decide to take a fork in the road.

    • Beth — I wish I could answer your question? I don’t know why they make it so difficult. I use Gmail now for my personal email and never intend to change it again!

  4. IMO, this falls under the general category of poor design of the user experience. Unfortunately, a very large percentage of websites fail miserably in that regard. Many software applications suffer from the same syndrome because programmers don’t tend to be very good at designing interfaces for “normal” people. Having been in the software development field for over 35 years now, I’ve been guilty of designing something that made sense to me at the time, but completely baffled those who were intended to use it! As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that those who design anything should be compelled to use it on a daily basis for at least 6 months.

    It’s not just programmers, it’s also people who write the specifications and leave out things that don’t occur to them such as needing to change the email address. You’d be amazed how often things like that are simply overlooked in the design process.

    • John — I appreciate your comment coming from a technology person. I think it’s because marketing and IT don’t talk to each other. I also think marketing people get caught up in creating “big idea” promotions designed to rope in subscribers but overlook the details that will make for a good customer experience. Companies pay millions to increase their subscribers — often paying customers — and then a mess up a silly little thing like changing an email address, which actually turns out to be a big thing, when a subscriber just gives up and hits “unsubscribe” as instructed.

  5. “I can change my home address, phone number and password, but not my email.” This is an excellent point. It’s just as easy to include an option to update your email preferences.

  6. Ho Jeannette. That is precisely why I’ve kept the same email addy for my entire online life! I do have several more easy to remember e-addy’s, but stick with the original one as it’s already recorded everywhere I deal. Progress, eh?

    • Doreen — you are wise to keep your same email address. I intend to keep my new one — Gmail — forever!

  7. Wow Jeannette, you certainly are getting your share of hassles. First the banks won’t take your money and now businesses are giving you a hard time in changing your email. Business better get on the ball because we are an ‘instant’ society and consumers aren’t going to mess around trying to change their email if it’s not made easy for them. Like you said, they’ll just unsubscribe.

    • Lenie — Agreed. Companies also risk damaging their brands when they don’t provide a good customer experience. I ended up having to call a few companies to change my email address after finally giving up online. But they were only the companies I need to do business with. The no-so-important companies — I just unsubscribed.

  8. I’ve not tried to change me email address very many places so hadn’t considered how difficult it can be. It does seem odd that companies make it so hard, but Patricia also pointed out some valid points about security.

  9. Jeannette I feel your pain! The first time I encountered this was several years ago. It was just one of the many reasons that I decided to purchase my own domain name, even before I had a web page. My reasoning was that I would never ever have to change my email again! Providers, like gmail, have forwarding options so if I have another email address listed with anyone it will be forwarded to my domain email. I was just as astounded as you to find that changing your email address with anyone is a time-consuming process. Not to mention, annoying! Laugh!

    • Jacquie — that was a smart move on your part to your own domain name. I’ve been using my cable company’s email for years, but now that I’m moving to Florida soon I had to change my email address and did it while I still had my old one. As emails came in I went online to change my address and was I in for surprise!

  10. I’m not looking forward to changing my email address once I legally change my hyphenated last name back to my maiden name. Some companies definitely make it easier than others to do so.

    • Jeri — Just remember to keep your old email for a month or so as I did. I was amazed at how many places I had to change my email address. As I received emails at my old address over time I changed my address. But you only hear from some companies monthly.

  11. Hi Jeannette,

    I had to change my email address a few months ago and I found it interesting that some make it difficult as your article showed. That said for a number of accounts, including my bank allowed me to do it simply online. I understand what Patricia said and I didn’t think of the potential hacking.

    Thanks for your article as I have made a note to see how I can make sure my businesses make it simple for customers to safely change their email address.

    • Susan — so glad to hear from you. I’m sorry this malady of companies reaches to Australia, too. Amazing that companies make it so difficult. It surely sours the customer experience.

  12. I once thought it was a good idea to get online emails and messages, now I don’t. I am the 1% that clicks not to receive any promotional material. I get enough junk emails, without asking for them.

    • William — I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of emails that I’ve been getting over the years. Should have done that a long time ago. So changing my email address gave me the opportunity to clear up my email inbox, too!

  13. I have to admit I have mixed feelings about how complicated companies are making it to change things. On the one hand – yes it is a royal pain – but on the other I understand that if it’s a pain for me and I know it’s …well me … then it’s going to be that much harder for a hacker to access my info. And for better or worse, if that’s the price we have to pay to protect ourselves I figure it’s certainly better than the alternative. Great post though, quite an eye-opener!

    • Marquita — Well, it was an eye-opener when I tried to find out where on a site I could change my email. I eventually started Googling, “How can I change my email on (name of company).” That turned out to be quicker. Let Google search the site!

  14. Agree with you completely that it should be easy to change your email address.

    Catch is, as Patricia point out, hackers. Have you ever had your email address hacked? I have by viagra selling Russians. Managed to get rid of them but before I did they sent emails from me to all my contacts offering Viagra. Laughed about it with friends of mine but imagine if it had been a company email address. Would really have given new potential clients that did not know me a fantastic impression of me:-)

    • Catarina — I have had my email hacked and it isn’t fun. Most people don’t realize their email providers are under brute force attack by hackers 24/7 and, unfortunately, their assaults do a lot of damage, regardless of the security walls they have to penetrate.

  15. Hello,
    It really surprised me that you have to face a lot of trouble while changing your email address online.
    As still in South East Asia we do not rely much on email addresses so I did not even think of the problem that can be faced.
    I am just thinking that there must be an easy way for the users to change there email address. As with advancement of technology many companies are improving customer service then why not give to user a friendly way to change the online information at any instant they want.

    • andleeb — it does seem ridiculous that companies make it so difficult to change your email address. I just think it’s because they don’t look at this from the customer’s perspective. It can be made easier, but it’s not high on the list of their priorities.

  16. Why on earth do companies make it so hard?? it seems completely illogical given that people do change their emails from time to time, and don’t want to lose all their history with a company. Thanks for pointing this out.

    • I don’t know why, A.K. It’s really unbelievable. I just cancelled a couple of subscriptions. Just to much bother to figure it out.

  17. This is great Jeannette. Seeing the big name examples here, I actually feel better knowing that I don’t have a change your email option with the subscription plugin that I’m using. Since I’m not happy with the email solution that I’m using now, I’ll remember that this is a must-have feature for me. Thanks!

    • Sherryl — Another issue is that the promotional arms of big companies are working with their own email lists so if you change your email address once it may not be enough. Just yesterday I received an email promotion from JetBlue. I checked and my email is changed where I order my tickets (after phoning in frustration). So I’m just going to leave my old email address and they’ll figure it out when my emails bounce back after I close my old account!