E-Mail Study: Be Relevant, Predictable

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As e-mail inboxes swell with commercial messages, predictability and relevance are becoming more crucial for marketers, according to a study expected to be released today.

Fifty-two percent of 1,256 regular e-mail users surveyed by e-mail solutions provider Quris Inc. said they delete messages from unrecognized senders unopened. Another 21 percent said they may open them but are annoyed when they do.

What's more, these users said on average that commercial e-mail overall makes up 66 percent of the volume they receive and that spam takes up 35 percent of their inboxes.

And marketers who think that simply getting permission is enough should think again.

The No. 1 complaint about permission programs was too much frequency, according to Quris. Respondents said they delete on average 39 percent of even their permission e-mail unopened.

"Companies have to realize that the way they conduct their programs will have an impact on the way their customers think about them," said Michael Sippey, vice president of corporate development, Quris, Denver.

In other findings, two-thirds of those surveyed said they get "too much" e-mail and 31 percent said they are happy with the amount of e-mail they receive and 3 percent said they'd like to get more.

The top way marketers can improve their permission marketing programs is by sending less frequent e-mails, according to Quris.

"People [marketers] are still treating the channel like another DM list, and you can't treat this channel the same way," said Gina Lambright, vice president of client services at Quris. Marketers still need to understand that not all direct marketing principles apply to e-mail, she said. "There is a divide between what consumers want on this channel and what marketers are providing."

The most popular types of permission communications were predictable ones like scheduled corporate newsletters, account status alerts and transaction confirmations, the study determined.

Sixty six percent of respondents said they felt very or somewhat positively about such services.

"People value communications where they know up front what they are getting," Sippey said.

Also, all forms of personalization got high marks from respondents.

The most commonly cited complaints surrounding poorly executed e-mail marketing programs were suspicions that the company is sharing addresses, an inability to unsubscribe from the list, too frequent messages and nothing of value being sent.

"People are feeling e-mail fatigue and they realize that when they give permission, that this one little step can lead to a flood in their inboxes," Lambright said.

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