If statistics and the past holiday season are any indication, electronic commerce is growing by leaps and bounds. This holds true for both business-to-business transactions and consumers' online purchases.
Regarding the latter, for example, industry projections call for online purchases by home Internet subscribers to increase to 50 percent by 2002 when some 102 million homes will be online. One of the key categories for e-commerce is high technology, the fastest growing consumer market for the past several years. There are many reasons, one is effective e-mail marketing campaigns directed at the receptive, opt-in hi-tech purchaser.
Fast, flexible and economical. Using the Internet and an opt-in mailing list — a list consisting of names of individuals who have given their consent to receive future offers from a marketer — hi-tech product marketers can achieve several important benefits. First, the marketing can be virtually instantaneous thereby accommodating the lightning quick speed of new developments and features in hi-tech products. There are no delays waiting for creative designs, production or printing to be completed. Second, e-mail marketing affords high selectability along with giving the marketer the opportunity to test many different market segments and demographics against multiple marketing variables. This can be accomplished with minimum costs; only those associated with developing different offers and writing the respective e-mail messages and distributing the e-mail campaign.
Small universe, large opportunity. Since the direct marketing industry is still in the infancy stage of developing opt-in mailing lists, the universe of names is still minimal when compared with traditional mailing lists. However, besides being much less saturated with mailing offers, those names are highly qualified, especially for the hi-tech category. You have a potential customer who, at minimum: has opted in, has Internet service and has made online purchases. The names on the list can be further qualified by such selections as type of purchase, computer platform, software applications and recency and price point of last purchase. This selectivity feature, when applied against an expanding backdrop of database marketing wherein hi-tech marketers use databasing to enhance their selections and predictions as to what names on a given list will respond best to specific offers, is extremely powerful in maximizing the e-mail marketing campaign.
Fast e-mail marketing boosted by Interactive, Web-based ad tools. Finally, e-mail marketing enables hi-tech product marketers to take advantage of state-of-the-art interactive media elements that lure potential buyers to their Web sites. The well-conceived and written e-mail marketing message will drive the recipient to a Web site that has been enhanced by targeted banner placements and other strategic Web links that further educate and/or persuade the prospect toward a buying decision. Today's most sophisticated interactive media tools also offer hi-tech marketers a mechanism by which to quantify and qualify the results of their e-mail marketing and subsequently, Web site traffic and e-commerce activity. An experienced direct marketing media firm, with a proven track record in the hi-tech market and interactive media services, can develop an integrated e-mail and Web marketing program to maximize results.
Fast, enhanced customer relations and increased sales. The effectiveness of e-mail marketing, especially when integrated with other Web marketing strategies, can not be overstated. Less obvious, but nonetheless another important advantage of this form of direct marketing, is its role in facilitating positive customer relations. Using e-mail marketing, hi-tech marketers can survey their customers to determine their needs, likes and dislikes, etc. Data from this market research can then be applied in product development, advertising, packaging, product literature, etc. If this information is enhanced with additional data captured at the time of a sale via e-commerce, software and hardware manufacturers can further improve their target marketing. On another level, hi-tech product marketers who demonstrate an interest in knowing what their customers want and respond to it, foster brand loyalty and future sales.
Janine Vosseler is executive vice president of 21st Century Marketing Inc., Farmingdale, NY.