E-mail: The "Duh" Factor?

Okay, the reality check is: Everyone is talking about e-mail. Lately the talk hasn't been good. Spam, phising, identity theft and the like has infiltrated our digital space. It seems as if every Internet user -- from a business executive to a 13-year-old kid - is leery of such practices.

Our beloved industry lacks e-mail information and needs to have a wake-up call. (What a shocker that is!) Yet the bottom line to agencies and marketers alike is, don't end your e-mail efforts. I was happy to see that market researcher The Radicati Group has released some much-needed stats on hosted e-mail. Also, E-mail company Silverpop has just released the first phase of its multipart study. According to eMarketer, the Radicati study estimates that there are now 856 million hosted e-mail accounts, and projects that number will top 1.4 billion by 2009. Currently, 69% of all e-mail accounts around the world are outsourced. The majority -- 64% -- are ISP/Web mails.



I also wanted to share with you some top findings from Silverpop's 2005 Retail E-mail Marketing Study:
--75% of companies studied don't use customers' names in e-mails responding to requests.
--25% failed to offer any reason to sign up to receive e-mails from the company; of those that did, 45% offered notices of sales and promotions, 14% offered news and 11% offered catalogs.
-- 23% failed to include e-mail registration requests on their home pages.
--78% offered only one choice of communication, such as notices of sales, newsletters or information bulletins.
--37% asked customers only for an e-mail address when they registered to receive information; 24% required a more extensive profile that included phone numbers and demographic information.
--57% didn't send confirmation e-mails following registration; 24% of those that did failed to include the company or brand name in the "subject" field of the e-mail.

And I'll say this about e-mail: most of the creative sucks. Many marketers seem to think e-mail creative should be like that of a postcard or other direct-mail piece. The lack of personalization is a complete shocker to me. How about some dynamic content, folks? Consider the mind-set of the recipients, who are inundated with advertising messages everywhere they look. And on that note, find the appropriate number of times to communicate with a customer or prospects. Do you have a clear call to action? You need one. Do you have a compelling offer? This doesn't even have to be a discount per se. It could be an announcement of a new product.

I'd also like to suggest to the rest of the advertisers/marketers/tool providers in the industry: Release your findings. Share some examples of dos and don'ts. How 'bout some camaraderie here, folks? Meanwhile, I've got to run. It's morning, and I have about 200 e-mails to read.

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