DoubleClick: Transactional E-Mail Offers Marketing Opportunities

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NEW ORLEANS -- More than half of consumers say they are willing to see marketing pitches with e-mail messages such as billing statements, a new consumer e-mail survey found.

DoubleClick's annual consumer e-mail study, released yesterday at the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference here, found that 52 percent of consumers receiving so-called transactional e-mails from businesses would be interested in messages that include offers for related services. About 47 percent said they would like rewards program notices, and 41 percent expressed interest in sweepstakes information.

With 54 percent of consumers saying they receive bills and statements through e-mail, DoubleClick said marketers should integrate these communications with relevant marketing messages.

Most companies are not equipped to do so, however. DoubleClick notes that traditionally, information technology departments generate e-mails like order confirmations while the marketing department or an e-mail service provider handles marketing messages.

"The old adage 'it's easier to sell something to an existing customer than make a new one' absolutely applies to the maturing marketing tactic of permission-based e-mail," the report stated.

Mixing transactional messages with promotions puts requirements on e-mail marketers under the CAN-SPAM Act. Transactional e-mails are not required to contain a physical address, as is the case with marketing messages. The Federal Trade Commission is formulating rules for what qualifies messages as commercial e-mail.

DoubleClick compiled the consumer e-mail study with ROI Research and TNS NFO Access Panel. About 1,000 consumers were polled via e-mail in July and August.

The study found consumers weary of spam. Respondents estimated, on average, nearly two-thirds of the e-mail they receive is spam despite aggressive filtering efforts by Internet service providers. Yet DoubleClick found consumers are increasing their e-mail use, as 81 percent said they checked e-mail daily and 33 percent reported "constant" use.

In-box clutter has increased, DoubleClick found, with the average consumer receiving 308 e-mails per week, up 18 percent from last year's report. Permission-based e-mail represents about 8 percent of e-mails received.

E-mail effectiveness also has risen, the study found. Thirty-two percent of consumers reported making an online purchase in response to an e-mail, up from 28 percent in last year's survey.

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