A new report released today by Jupiter Communications, a worldwide authority on Internet commerce, reveals that the commercial e-mail market will soar to an estimated $7.3 billion in 2005, cannibalizing direct mail revenues by 13 percent.Jupiter’s prediction does NOT run counter to my earlier comments on the strength of direct marketing. In fact, eMail is simply another direct marketing medium that together with mail will further cannibalize mass marketing.
With research indicating that US consumers will see an estimated forty-fold increase in e-mail volume, Jupiter advises that businesses improve their outreach immmediately - integrating messages across media channels, growing house lists, and incorporating feedback for improved targeting - or risk increasing opt-out rates.
E-mail is a cost-effective and high-response rate vehicle by which to acquire and retain consumers, sell and promote products, drive loyalty, and reinforce branding efforts. In fact, many Internet commerce and content ventures have made e-mail the must-have communications vehicle. Because of the swift time-to-market and the strong return on investment (ROI) of e-mail, Jupiter estimates that commercial e-mail spending will grow from $164 million in 1999 to $7.3 billion in 2005.
However, the expected increase in the volume of e-mail will strain consumers' attention span. The average number of commercial e-mail messages that US online consumers receive per year will increase from 40 in 1999 to over 1,600 in 2005; non-marketing and personal correspondence will more than double from approximately 1,750 in 1999 to almost 4,000 in 2005. As competition for consumers' attention rises, companies face two challenges: maintaining a high response rate and maintaining a high quality dialogue with consumers.
As a result, the volume of opt-in commercial e-mails continues to rise at a furious pace. However, consumers will not have the resources or tolerance to maintain the high response rates that are driving businesses to e-mail in the first place. Businesses must focus on delivering value from the first e-mail contact, because opt-out is just a click away. This is precisely where contextual marketing communications principles will become mandatory … value of the email is determined on an individual basis … is it relevant to my interests and pains? If not, it will be ignored.
Jupiter's research shows that businesses can increase the value of their e-mail marketing to consumers by integration: across media, channels and data.Marketers must maintain message consistency across all media.
The tone and message of E-mail should reflect the look and feel of print, banner, and broadcast campaigns. One of the biggest challenges that businesses face in e-mail marketing is growing their internal e-mail contact database effectively. Companies must realize that they have to leverage all available channels - Web, phone, and retail - to capture e-mail addresses from consumers. Marketers must integrate e-mail collection efforts into all points of contact with consumers aggressively - online and off-line.
To provide valuable communications to consumers and maintain a high response rates, businesses must capitalize on the closed-loop environment that e-mail provides by integrating all available data. And to maximize marketing intelligence and improve content messaging to targeted audiences, businesses must leverage and feedback into e-mail efforts as much consumer data as possible, including response rates, purchasing behavior, and demographic data.