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E-Mail Leads as Online Marketing Tool

A recent poll of 352 marketing professionals revealed that e-mail is the most commonly used online marketing tool.

Fifty-one percent of the survey respondents said they were currently using e-mail to market to customers and prospects. And among the other 49 percent, almost three-fourths of them said they planned to implement e-mail marketing campaigns in the future.

The study, conducted Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 by Millward Brown IntelliQuest, asked marketers who work for companies that have an online presence a range of questions covering online vs. traditional marketing, e-mail, return on investment, privacy and other topics. E-mail marketing services firm Responsys.com, Palo Alto, CA, sponsored the poll.

Somewhat surprisingly, the survey found that small businesses, at 50 percent, and medium-sized businesses, at 54 percent, are more likely to use e-mail marketing than larger firms, at 47 percent. For companies with e-commerce Web sites, 61 percent use e-mail marketing.

Forty-three percent of the respondents use personalized e-mail to target customers, with the larger companies leading the way. Only 37 percent of small companies and 43 percent of medium-sized businesses send out personalized e-mail, while 62 percent of large firms said they do so. The criteria most frequently cited as the information marketers use to target customers were purchase behavior, 43 percent; geography, 31 percent; and income, 18 percent.

Meanwhile, just 30 percent of the marketers said their companies were collecting customer data needed to personalize marketing messages. Concern about a consumer backlash caused marketers to tread this ground very carefully.

Nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they believed that consumers are less likely to visit Web sites if they are informed that the site will be collecting personal information. Accordingly, 90 percent of marketers who collect online data said they do not share the information with third parties or outside vendors.

More than half of the respondents said their companies have a privacy policy and that they have updated it within the last year. Almost two-thirds of that segment said the update occurred “in response to changing industry standards.”

Despite privacy concerns, survey participants are still enthusiastic about the online marketing space. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed marketers said they conduct online campaigns through e-mail, banner ads, loyalty programs or other forms. Considerably fewer companies said they use online marketing exclusively, at 6.5 percent, or traditional direct marketing exclusively, at 23 percent.

The 23 percent of respondents who are not marketing online said their reasons for avoiding the medium include a belief that their target audience was best reached with traditional techniques, that the traditional methods were working fine or that they were unsure of the possible ROI for online campaigns.

Of the 70 percent of marketers who are using a combination of offline and online campaigns, their average budget breakdown is 75 percent offline and 25 percent online. More than two-thirds of these firms said they expect to increase their online budget over the next 12 months, while one-quarter said they anticipate their online budget to remain the same.

With the holiday season arriving the survey paid special attention to how marketers are allocating their holiday spending dollars. Marketers said they forecast an average holiday breakdown of 68 percent offline and 32 percent online. The number of firms reporting plans to undertake an online holiday campaign this year as compared to 1999 increased dramatically. More than 75 percent of respondents said they plan to market online for the 2000 holidays. Last year, only 25 percent said they conducted an online holiday campaign.

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