Brands missing loyal connection with e-mail
Many brands are failing to optimise their existing customer relationships by not conducting any form of e-mail marketing, despite the fact that 69% of consumers are willing to provide their e-mail address if asked, according to research from e-mail marketing services provider e-Dialog.
In a poll of consumers on the circumstances in which they would be most willing to supply a company with their e-mail address, more than half (57%) of British consumers said they would be prepared to include their e-mail address when placing an order through a catalogue, along with 43% when placing an order in response to direct mail.
Despite this willingness, however, only 10% of consumers said that a retailer had asked them for their e-mail address on a catalogue order form, and only 6% had ever been asked via direct mail.
The 2009 Acquitention Survey highlighted the growing importance of what e-Dialog calls "acquitention" (the idea that acquiring the e-mail addresses of existing customers is more cost-effective than purchasing new lists). This approach is based on the idea that the more channels through which a customer can be contacted, the higher the lifetime value of that customer. In fact, 27% of consumers claim to have been motivated to make a purchase in a bricks-and-mortar store after being alerted to a product by a marketing e-mail.
According to Simone Barratt, managing director for e-Dialog in the UK, the success of this approach has been observed by many of e-Dialog's clients: "One of our clients collects e-mail addresses for customers who use the call centre to make reservations, and then sends them confirmation messages containing opt-in links for other promotional mailings. Through this technique, the company has increased its customer reach as well as its ability to build loyalty without having to spend extra money on lists, or taking on the challenge of acquiring customers from unsolicited e-mail messages."
The survey also found that one of the most important factors in a customer's willingness to share their e-mail details was brand recognition. When asked in which circumstances they would be prepared to provide their e-mail address, 34% said that they would be prepared to share their details only with an established brand, while 69% said they would share their e-mail address with a brand if they were an existing customer.
"This is a huge opportunity that brands are missing out on. This research shows that customers are generally willing to trust their contact details to established brands and companies with which they already have an existing relationship," explained Barratt.
However, while there is a clear willingness to share contact details under the right circumstances, when asked what reasons they would cite for not sharing their details, 76% expressed concern that they would receive irrelevant marketing messages, and 37% said they would be reluctant to share their e-mail address with brands when they can't see what they stand to gain by doing so. This attitude was most obvious in the computer literate and internet-savvy age groups (18-24 and 25-34, at 46% and 47% respectively).
The company therefore suggests that, in order to acquire consumers' e-mail addresses, brands must communicate the benefits (such as personalised offers, exclusive previews of products, or extra loyalty points) that will be received as a result of sharing their e-mail addresses.
The research also noted a need to clearly identify the incentives that are most effective for each segment of the prospect database. The incentives that would be most likely to persuade consumers to share their e-mail addresses were cited as:
- The prospect of receiving information and offers that were of specific interest to them (50%);
- Access to credits or vouchers for a future purchase (45%);
- If it increased their loyalty points (40%).
An understanding of which segments respond best to these different incentives is vital to successfully acquiring each customer's e-mail address. For example, the study found that free gifts are a big incentive for 32% of 18-34 year olds, but that they interest only 27% of 45-55 year olds.
The fact that half of the consumers surveyed would provide their e-mail address if they believed they would receive relevant information, while 76% would be put off giving their e-mail address because they're worried it will lead to irrelevant messages shows the extent of the disconnect between the perceived and actual consumer benefits of e-mail marketing.
Barratt concluded: "Acquitention ensures that marketers make the most of their over-stretched budgets whilst at the same time strengthening existing customer relationships. But marketers need to make it clear at the point of sign-up what the incentives are, and how the customer will benefit."