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Is Your Company Missing out on E-mail’s Marketing Advantages?

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RISMEDIA, June 10, 2008-Eighty five percent of companies failed to personalize the first e-mail message sent to new subscribers, Return Path discovered with its new Return Path Subscriber Experiences study. This lack of customization, combined with other missed opportunities, leaves marketers unable to leverage the true power of e-mail marketing.

Return Path, an e-mail performance management company, conducted the study by subscribing and studying the e-mail programs of 61 companies from the retail, consumer goods, travel, and media/entertainment industries.

The problem is not lack of data. Marketers are collecting information at sign-up that could be used to personalize their initial and subsequent e-mails. In fact, seventy percent of the companies studied collected additional information beyond a subscribers’ e-mail at sign up. Yet, 75% of the companies that collected that additional information did not use it to personalize their e-mails.

“As marketers continue expanding their use of e-mail, they need to keep in mind the unique capabilities that e-mail offers. If you’re collecting information in addition to an e-mail address when a person signs up, you should be using that information to create a personalized message. Personalization keeps subscribers involved with your brand and more inclined to purchase,” said Bonnie Malone Fry, director of Strategic Services.

In another surprising discovery, Return Path found that many e-mail marketers are not acknowledging a new e-mail subscriber with a welcome message. Sixty percent of the companies studied never sent a welcome message to new subscribers – missing out on an ideal opportunity to establish great rapport with new subscribers.

“Instead of putting out a welcome mat, marketers’ are telling their subscribers to go away,” said Fry. “This is not how you build a good relationship, either with customers or prospective customers.”

Marketers are also struggling with the immediacy of e-mail. In the age of instant messaging, Twitter, and constant updates from social networks, Return Path discovered that the companies studied sent their first regular e-mail an average of nine days after a subscriber joined. In addition, 65% of those first regular e-mail messages did not contain any special offer for the new subscriber.

“Combined with a lack of welcome message, this lag in sending e-mail has implications for sender reputation and deliverability, too,” said Fry. “Many people sign up for e-mail, but quickly forget about the company if they don’t get e-mail quickly. When marketers finally do send something the risk is high that recipients will complain because they don’t remember they opted in for the message.”

While many marketers need to examine their e-mail campaigns for personalization and quick engagement, the Return Path Subscriber Experiences study did find that companies across the board are intent on capturing customers’ e-mails for future e-mail marketing. Seventy seven percent of the companies studied made it easy to find their e-mail registration box on their home page.

“The great news is that many companies are focused on growing their lists and ceding valuable website real estate to a subscribe function,” said Fry. “Now they just need to close the loop by making the actual inbox experience really great for subscribers.”

For more information, please visit www.returnpath.net.

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