E-Mail's Main Benefits Come From House Files

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NEW YORK -- Most of the key benefits of e-mail marketing come once the marketer gets the address, according to speakers at a Direct Marketing Club of New York luncheon held here yesterday.

"We're not touting e-mail for its response rates," Michelle Feit, president of e-Post Direct, list firm Edith Roman Associates' e-mail services division, said during the panel discussion at the Yale Club in midtown Manhattan.

"Response rates in e-mail [generally] mirror those in direct marketing. The difference is your back-end costs are much lower," she said. "Overall, it's faster, cheaper and easier [than postal direct mail]."

Also on the panel, dubbed "The Latest Trends in Internet Marketing," was Stevan Roberts, president of Edith Roman Associates, Pearl River, NY.

Robert Bly, an author of books about business, moderated. The three are also co-authors of the recently published "Internet Direct Mail, The Complete Guide to Successful E-Mail Marketing Campaigns."

Feit said typical business-to-business e-mailings are getting 2 percent to 4 percent click throughs and conversion rates of 0.04 percent. She defined conversion rate as the percentage of people on the entire list who performed the desired action.

Typical business-to-consumer click-through rates are 3 percent to 5 percent, and a typical BTC conversion rate is 1 percent, she said.

One business category seeing significant benefits from e-mail marketing is controlled-circulation publishing, Roberts said. "They're getting response rates of from 5 [percent] to 47 percent while postal rates are dropping," he said. "They're really bucking the trend."

Subscription renewal rates are higher via e-mail and also cheaper, he said. A key area where publishers save with e-mail renewals is in data entry, because subscribers key in their own information, Roberts added.

On the topic of rich media e-mail, versus HTML e-mail, versus text, Roberts recommended that marketers send rich media e-mail -- e-mail with sound, three-dimensional graphics and interactive capabilities -- only to their customer files.

Rich media files can be big and tie people's systems up, he said. "People can get very angry at you," he said.

HTML e-mail, or e-mail with one-dimensional graphics, usually generates a significant lift over text, according to Roberts. But he recommended text e-mail for campaigns aimed at technical people. "They don't like graphics," he said.

On the subject of long copy versus short copy, Bly said the Internet poses a unique dilemma.

"We know long copy works for offers," he said. "We know the culture of the Internet is 'keep it short.' "

The question that no one has answered yet is: How do those two pieces of information translate into a selling tactic online?


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