October 21, 2004, 12:00 AM

To improve e-mail marketing, merchants seek to improve segmentation

In a survey by Exmplar Inc. and The e-Tailing Group, more targeted e-mail programs ranked near the top among the initiatives marketers consider most important to improving online performance, with 64% of those polled placing it in the top five tactics.

Merchants already know how much e-mail can contribute to online marketing efforts-and they’re beginning to understand that making it more personally relevant is a top method of making it more effective. Launching more targeted e-mail marketing programs was one of the most-cited ways to improve web site performance in a recent online marketing and e-mail survey conducted by Exmplar Inc. and The e-Tailing Group Inc. Mentioned by 64% of the more than 150 e-retail executives surveyed as a means of improving performance, e-mail targeting was topped only by enhancing site merchandising, cited by 80%.

93% of those polled said driving incremental revenue was among the top five reasons they used e-mail marketing; 60% said they used e-mail primarily for this use. Increasing purchase frequency was cited among the top five by 88%, improving customer loyalty was cited by 58%, reactivating customers was mentioned by 59% and 52% cited using e-mail for reinforcing brand proposition.

Increasing e-mail list size was identified as one of the top three challenges to e-mail marketing by 69% of those surveyed; 39% rate it the number one concern. Rounding out the top challenges list were creating compelling messaging, noted by 47% of respondents, and e-mail conversion rates, cited by 44%.

A total of 69% of the executives surveyed identified better segmentation as a way to improve e-mail campaign performance and said they are taking steps to do that. 57% said they are working to improve campaign creativity; the same number said they are taking steps to improve merchandising in e-mail campaigns.

“We empathize with the current tactical merchant mindset, but we suggest that more targeted marketing approaches may be the panacea,” says e-Tailing Group president Lauren Freedman. “A model that integrates marketing and merchandising with segmentation and personalization will deliver higher conversion, customer retention and reactivation merchants seek,” adds Keith Wardell, president and CEO of Exmplar.

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