U.S. Firms Using More Mail, E-Mail Around Globe, Speaker Says

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NEW YORK -- U.S. companies are sending more postal mail and e-mail to customers and prospects abroad, the Direct Marketing Association said at yesterday's International Day 2005.

"From 2003 to 2004, nearly 72 percent of respondents said sales dependent on mail to foreign destinations increased," said Ramesh Ratan, senior vice president of membership and market development at the DMA.

Ratan presented data from an updated version of the DMA's International Postage Usage Survey, which was last published in 2002. The DMA expects the full survey, which tracks trends and provides benchmarks for postal usage patterns of companies that market across borders, to be available in August.

Regarding e-mail, the numbers are even more impressive, Ratan said.

"Eighty-seven percent of the respondents said they had increased sales [because of] e-mail that had been sent to international customers and prospects between 2003 and 2004," he said.

Ratan said e-mail is rising in popularity for international direct marketing.

"When asked how much e-mail and online promotions had replaced conventional postal mail to international customers and prospects, we found that nearly one-third said electronic communications had very much replaced traditional mail," he said.

Ratan said 28 percent of respondents to the DMA's 2005 Multichannel Marketing Report are doing business abroad.

Ratan also said the DMA is working to meet the needs of both its U.S. and non-U.S.-based members regarding their international marketing endeavors. Both member groups told the DMA they want five things from the DMA: research, education, networking, political and media advocacy and brand building. However, U.S. members put more emphasis on political advocacy than their international colleagues, who were considerably more focused on education and research, he said.

Also speaking at the meeting was Lisa Watson, former senior director of Oracle Corp. and current head of Wunderman Asia. She spoke about the importance of using time-centric CRM programs, such as those using birthday data or dynamic data that show a change in behavior at a certain time when marketing to consumers in Southeast Asia.

Though China is still considered a challenging area to enter because of data issues, Watson said the country has a great deal of potential.

"Everyone does business where the money is, and China is definitely one of the places where there is a lot of money," she said, though she added that many companies have not been successful there.

However, companies are building consumer and lifestyle databases," she said, and there is a growing level of Internet access, "so people have reasonable access to information."

DMA president/CEO John A. Greco Jr. was supposed to speak at the event, but he "had to attend to some pressing Commerce Department business" on the DMA's behalf, Ratan said.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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