E-mail marketing versus postal lists

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List-based marketing used to simply mean postal lists. But while postal lists are still prominent, e-mail lists are starting to pick up the pace, according to the Direct Marketing Association's 2007 Postal and E-mail List Report.

In January, the DMA conducted its comprehensive online survey of both business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies that use direct marketing.

Potential participants were identified from DMA's database and recruited via e-mail. About 230 people participated in the survey.

"There is more evidence than ever before that list-based e-mail marketing is increasingly rivaling postal marketing in the place it holds within marketers' overall circulation and contact strategies," the report points out. "The core of any list-based contact or circulation strategy involves decisions about the volume and frequency of contact by media by intended audience."

List-based postal marketing remains the more prominent channel, with a weighted average 6.8 million postal pieces distributed in 2006, compared with an average 1.9 million pieces circulated through e-mail.

However, the report found that e-mail marketing may not remain far behind for long.

More than half of the respondents report increasing their postal circulation. A greater percentage of respondents report growing their e-mail volumes and at a higher rate.

On average, survey respondents allocate mailings equally (almost 50 percent each) to customers versus prospects.

Respondents directed a slightly higher proportion (58 percent) of their e-mail campaigns to current customers.

From 2005 to 2006, 73 percent of the companies surveyed increased their e-mail volume. While the majority of companies reported planning to continue increasing volumes into 2007, increases this year in both media are expected to be slightly less common (64.9 percent for e-mail and 51.2 percent for postal mail.)

"Incidents of volume changes tell only part of the story of the growing trend to list-based e-mail marketing over these two years," the report says. "Magnifying the higher percentage of companies increasing their e-mail volumes than postal volumes, is the higher average percentage increase for e-mail these companies report, compared with the average increases they report for postal mail."

Average decreases in e-mail marketing are both smaller and are found among a much smaller percentage of survey respondents.

There appear to be fewer firms making their e-mail lists available for rental as compared to postal lists. However, more marketers appear to be turning to e-mail and e-mail lists in greater numbers than in the past to acquire new customers.

Volume increases were much more frequently reported among both high volume mailers and e-mailers (67.7 percent of mailers and 89.3 percent of e-mailers reporting increases) than among smaller mailers or e-mailers.

When considering frequency, increases were most often seen among medium and low volume e-mail mailers, whereas in postal mail increased frequency was again found, as with volume, among the larger mailers.

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