The search giant today launched an app called Inbox that could force retailers to change their e-mail marketing strategies.
Some 700 e-retailers use Webpower to send billions of e-mails annually.
Since Netherlands-based Webpower entered China in 2005, more than 1,000 Chinese clients have used its “dmdelivery” platform to send billions of e-mails annually to consumers. The company says its business has increased 50% annually in the past several years and 60% of its clients are e-retailers, such as Alibaba, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Asia 500 guide; Yixun (formerly known as 51buy.com), No. 5; Newegg.com.cn, No.28; Yintai.com, No.49; and the China unit of Asos, No. 32 in the Europe 500 guide. Webpower China declined to provide its revenue in China.
Chinese e-retail sales reached 1.3 trillion yuan ($212.4 billion) in the first three quarters of this year, 35% more than a year ago, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. Strong demand from online consumers attracts more brands and retailers to sell online, and that’s driving up the costs of search marketing and other methods of marketing online, Webpower says. That’s making e-mail more attractive.
“With increasing CRM (customer relationship management) and business intelligence systems installed by Chinese companies, many of them realize e-mail marketing is an effective way to interactive with their registered users. In general, Chinese clients pay us around a half of a U.S. cent for each e-mail,” says Jay Xie, general manger of Webpower China. “Before 2009, we had zero clients in the e-retailer category. Now the demands from e-retailers are increasing 100% per year for Webpower China.”
“Social media and mobile devices are playing a growing role in e-mail marketing in China,” he says. “30% of the e-mails we’re sending were opened by users via their mobile devices, and e-retailers are embracing more of a social and mobile mix into their e-mail marketing campaigns,” Xie adds.
The China unit of U.K. retail chain Marks & Spencer used Webpower in a recent promotion aimed at attracting new customers, says Dean Ding, digital marketing manager for China.
“We sent e-mails to our old members and encouraged them to repost our promotional message via their networks in social media,” he says. “The Webpower system can automatically record their activities, and we will reward old members through freebies if they can bring in at least three new members. During a 20-days campaign, 50% of recipients opened the mail and we increased our membership by 5%.”
Marks & Spencer ranks No. 18 in the Internet Retailer Europe 500 and has opened 14 stores in China in the past two years, including one e-commerce store on Tmall, a major online marketplace operated by China’s Alibaba Group, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Asia 500.
Webpower started its business in the Netherlands in 1999. Besides its China office, the company has opened offices in Germany, Britain, Spain and Sweden.