Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Easy Fix Could Cure Email Marketers' Impotence - MarketingVOX

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One Easy Fix Could Cure Email Marketers' Impotence

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As wallets slacken and consumers grow more conscious of where their money is going, online retailers have become more aggressive about using email to promote discounts.

A recent report found online shopping is more appealing as gas prices increase. Armed with this and other optimistic forecasts, nearly three-fourths of internet retailers are prepared to survive the economic climate — and a full 35% expect to profit.

Email is cheap, and in some ways is the perfect vehicle to precipitate online profit growth. Forrester analyst Julie M. Katz says it costs about $2 to send a thousand emails. Better yet, marketers get an average $45.06 ROI for every dollar spent on email campaigns, says the Direct Marketers Association (DMA).

And while intentions may be noble, consumers are wary. Cory Porter, a web shopper from Washington DC, confessed, 'I find them annoying.' He receives about seven email offers per day — nearly twice as many as two months ago, reports the Associated Press.

Given "all the economic uncertainty," Porter slashed discretionary spend from $500 per month to $200. Half of his buying now occurs online. Overzealous email marketers, however, are increasingly relegated to the spam bin.

In a survey of 174 online retailers, Internet Retailer found nearly half increased the number of monthly emails sent, compared to last year. The DMA reports an 8% increase in the number of emails that stores sent for the week ending October 17, compared to the same week a year earlier.

All told, Forrester forecasts over 158 billion marketing emails will be sent this year — expected to increase 63%, to 258 billion in 2013. As volume rises, consumers seek new ways to evade the wave of what they consider to be spam.

The problem, in part, is relevance. "I am a 32-year-old guy who lives in an urban area with no kids," Porter said. "In other words, I don't need blouses, high heels, or kid's juice boxes."

Less than 20% of retailer emails are tailored to consumers' individual needs, even though targeted messages are easier to produce than they were a handful of years ago, says VP Stephanie Miller of market development at Return Path.

But Miller also believes this lazy attitude will evolve, because merely increasing email frequency won't work in an environment this noisy.

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