Direct marketers profit from

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Despite the 20-month-long economic slump, direct marketers are having a great deal of success making money on e-commerce transactions, according to a new Direct Marketing Association survey.

Indeed, direct marketers are not only getting positive returns from their current e-commerce programs but also are planning to increase investments in interactive media initiatives, according to the survey, "The DMA State of the E-Commerce Industry Report 2001."

The survey also showed that while direct marketers are increasingly finding e-mail marketing a good prospecting and sales tool, rich e-mail and Internet technologies are apparently not part of the reason why.

Interactive media boost

Fifty-five percent of the 700 companies polled are earning a profit from their e-commerce operations, according to the survey; 83% said they expect that interactive media will have a positive impact on revenue by 2005.

Fifty-nine percent of companies reported increased sales as a result of e-mail marketing promotions, while 65% said they rely on click-throughs to track the effectiveness of campaigns.

Web sites are also being viewed as good e-commerce sales-lead vehicles, according to the survey. Fifty-seven percent said their sites are used for lead generation. Eighty-five percent of companies said they are using their Web sites for the marketing of information, while 61% are using sites to reach new clients.

David Garfinkel, CEO of San Francisco-based consultancy Overnight Marketing, said the DMA’s figures indicate that marketers’ investments in e-marketing initiatives are beginning to bear fruit. "I think we are turning a
corner," Garfinkel said. A resurgence in e-mail marketing is adding fuel to the positive findings, he said, adding that he doesn’t expect a falloff anytime soon.

While many of the survey’s respondents expressed optimism regarding e-commerce, few were bullish on the role of rich e-mail and Internet technologies. Indeed, 80% of companies said they still rely on regular e-mail, and 73% use plain text messages.

While 62% said they are beginning to adopt HTML technologies for their e-mail marketing, just 12% have actually begun using rich-broadband media, and only 8% have begun using streaming video, according to the survey.

At least one industry expert said that a lack of supporting technology among marketers’ clients is part of the reason for slow adoption. "Browser functionality is just not there," said Bennet Kleinberg, VP of New York-based marketing communications consultancy Magnet Communications.

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