Quris: E-Mailers Don't Send What Consumers Want

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A gap exists between the information consumers ask for via e-mail and what they get, according to a new e-mail marketing survey provided exclusively to DM News.

Though 77 percent of consumers want to receive "unscheduled offers" from marketers, only 8 percent reported getting them, integrated e-mail agency Quris said. Seventy-five percent of consumers sign up for scheduled discount alerts and circulars but only 19 percent find them worth reading. In addition, 69 percent want e-mail product catalogs, regular updates on products and sales specials, but only 19 percent said that is what they receive.

As part of a series of white papers on permission e-mail marketing that will be released later this year, Quris compiled responses from more than 2,500 consumers on a Harris Interactive panel.

"There is a gap between consumers' expectations and what companies push out," said Katie Cole, vice president of analytics and research at Quris, Denver.

But the gap is narrowing in some categories, including transaction receipts and account statements. Sixty-six percent said purchase, shipping and transaction confirmation messages are what permission e-mail does best, up from 58 percent in 2004. Also, 48 percent said permission e-mail is best for providing electronic statements or other account information, up 9 percentage points from 2004, and 43 percent said the medium is best for promoting special discounts and other limited-time offers.

Moreover, 51 percent are open to receiving relevant marketing messages within those service e-mails.

"Combining service and marketing messages is a great opportunity for marketers, only if done correctly," according to Quris, Denver. "The key is to provide the valued service first and then target receptive consumers with relevant content or offers within those messages."

Though marketers are switching from direct mail to e-mail for more of their customer communication, consumers want e-mail to replace more of the direct mail pieces they get from businesses.

Seventy-seven percent called e-mail the best medium for transaction confirmations, 60 percent said it is best for customer service inquiries, 52 percent said newsletters should be sent by e-mail and 50 percent said electronic coupons should be available via e-mail.

While many publishers have switched to e-newsletters, many professional organizations still mail print versions, Cole said. In addition, most consumers still want their magazines and newspapers sent via direct mail.

The survey also found that marketers need to explain to consumers better why they collect their e-mail addresses, because of misperceptions about spam. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed think the main source of spam is companies sharing their addresses without permission, and 46 percent attribute spam to partnership marketing.

The growth of search engines means more companies obtain e-mail addresses from search marketing campaigns. E-mail addresses from search engine marketing rose 14 points from 2004 to 43 percent in 2005. In addition, more companies asked for consumers' e-mail addresses in the store, up 8 points to 26 percent.

"The key is to grow your list slowly," Cole said. "One of the ways to do that is point of sale: those addresses give you a better return ... and stay with you longer."

Still, companies obtain e-mail addresses mainly via online registration requirements. Eighty-one percent said they gave their address as part of account registration or to fulfill an online transaction or access online content. Also, 70 percent said they voluntarily gave their address to receive information from companies via e-mail.

The survey also found that most consumers are unaware of multichannel marketing campaigns. Only 5 percent have seen multichannel campaigns with any regularity, down 1 point from 2004. Marketers devise separate campaigns for e-mail marketing and mass media channels, Cole said.

"The advantage of e-mail is that it is timely and personalized, and mass media is frequency and reach," she said.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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