Supplement Investor Messages With E-Mail

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One of the Internet's few success stories has been as a medium for an ever-expanding group of financial services marketers and publicly traded companies looking for new ways to gain exposure for their products and services. Traditionally, financial services companies have relied on snail mail, press releases, advertising and Web postings to communicate their investor relations messages to individual and institutional investors.

However, as the Internet continues to help fuel the rise of the global investor, more companies are recognizing the need to complement their existing investor relations efforts with new media distribution methods in order to create an all-encompassing program focused on generating consistent exposure to active retail and institutional investors.

With ease of access, targeting capabilities, reach and proven effectiveness, e-mail marketing has emerged as a new option for the distribution of corporate advertising/investor relations messages. Corporate investor relations e-mails have the distinct advantage of delivering timely, unfiltered messages to current and potential investors. Opening this new line of communications gives companies the chance to present their views in a company preferred context.

Corporate e-mails have the potential to be very effective outside of the United States, as advancements in telecommunications and the exponential growth of the Internet have companies focusing on emerging markets worldwide.

For example, the shareholder population in mainland China has grown from virtually nothing in 1990 to 60 million last year, giving it the world's second-largest shareholder population behind the United States. And in Hong Kong, online trading is expected to make up 40 percent of the market's volume by 2004, up from 1.3 percent in 2000.

As the opt-in volume and worldwide online investment grows, U.S.-based companies have an extraordinary opportunity to capture this investment base.

But there is one caveat before jumping into corporate e-mail programs. It is important for both advertisers and publishers to ensure they are using lists that will be productive. Since the performance of each drop is key to future business, advertisers will want to make sure that e-mail lists have not been "burned," or have been overused.

Site publishers who assemble lists need to maintain product integrity by limiting the amount of drops sent to their list and restrict messages to ones that are potentially viable investment opportunities, or contain content the consumer considers highly credible.

While e-mail will not replace other corporate or investor relations communications programs, it can complement them by delivering timely, uncluttered, messages and by hitting the target consumer in a new media channel.

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