E-mail marketing practices are widely diversified: DMA study

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E-mail marketing practices, metrics and performance among marketers is more varied than expected, says a new DMA study.

The study, "Actionable Insights into E-Mail Marketing," was conducted in November 2006 and attributes much of the variation among different practices, metrics and results to marketers' level of self-reported competence or expertise level. Responding companies were categorized as advanced, intermediate or beginner, as well as, marketer or service provider, business-to-consumer, business-to-business, or both and by company size.

"We were surprised to see so much variance in a channel like e-mail that has been around for so long," said Eugenia Steingold, senior research manager at the DMA.

The study found that although three in four e-mail campaigns aim at customer retention and one in four are used to acquire customers. It also found that frequency is greater in 2007 than in 2006, which was greater than in 2005.

Especially popular acquisition practices include company announcements, which 68 percent of respondents mail, company newsletters, which 65 percent mail, and special discounts and one-time offers, which 63 percent of respondents send of both respectively.

In assessing challenges, service providers and client-side marketers have a disconnect.

"Agencies, Internet service providers and e-mail services providers rate deliverability as the biggest challenge, while marketers rate integration of e-mail into a bigger marketing campaign as the biggest challenge," said Peter Johnson, vice president of research and marketing intelligence at the DMA.

When marketers do use e-mail in concert with other marketing channels, two out of three use special offer codes to integrate the channels.

Business-to-business companies trail business-to-consumer counterparts in the use of e-mail marketing. Business-to-consumer marketers forecast that they will allocate 11 percent of total marketing budget to e-mail marketing in 2007, while business-to-business allocate only 6.5 percent.

The DMA hopes that marketers will be able to look at the study and take away the different tactics used by each level on marketers on the continuum.

"We hope that marketers will not just see what the top level is doing different, but also see how to get there themselves," Mr. Johnson said.

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