Study: Companies Ignore E-Mail Queries

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More than 75 percent of companies fail to respond to customer e-mail inquiries, according to a study conducted by WizardMail Marketing Systems, an online promotions marketing company in Henderson, KY.

The company sent four e-mails to 1,000 e-commerce sites between April 1, 1999, and April 28 of this year. The e-mails were specific to the site's product. For example, if the site was for a printing company, WizardMail sent an e-mail requesting information about purchasing 5,000 business cards. The goal was to receive a confirmation of availability and the price of a specific product or service. Only 24 percent responded.

Worse, only 71 companies responded to more than one request for information, and 14 responded three times.

"It shocked me. These companies are spending $800,000, $1 million on a Web site, and they won't even answer an e-mail. All that money spent and no one's doing basic follow-up," said James Kemp, director at WizardMail Marketing Systems. "They get them there and then they don't kiss them."

The results were fairly consistent throughout the study. When the first e-mail was sent in April 1999, 752 companies did not respond, 168 responded but did not provide an answer and 80 provided a specific response.

By the time the fourth e-mail was sent this April, 791 failed to respond, 176 gave a nonspecific response and 33 gave a specific response.

"Some of the responses we would get were so unresponsive, there was no reason to even send an e-mail," Kemp said.

The bigger the company, the better the response, according to Kemp. "The bigger sites would not hesitate to give you a price, but with the small sites you had to take a ball peen hammer and hit them on the toe to get them to give you a price," he said. "The smaller the company, the more evasive."

Finally, as a last-ditch effort, phone calls were placed to 100 of the companies that failed to respond to any of the e-mails. "Probably 60 percent of the people answering the phone did not have a clue as to what their company did," Kemp said. "One even asked me if I knew anyone who was hiring."

The companies contacted included 400 industry-specific Web sites such as custom printers, booksellers and software companies; 300 random e-commerce sites; 200 Fortune 1000 companies; and 100 home business and multilevel marketing companies in the United States and Canada.

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