Study: Many e-mail campaigns alienate customers

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New York—A large proportion of e-commerce companies employ faulty e-mail marketing practices that have the potential to alienate their customers and sabotage possible targeting opportunities, according to a new study by commercial e-mail solutions company Return Path.

The Return Path study, “Increasing Revenues by Optimizing E-mailing Practices With Online Buyers,” found that 31% of e-commerce companies added customers to their e-mail lists following a purchase without first asking them if that was OK.

Return Path said being scrupulous in asking such permission improves e-mail relevance and reduces both customer complaints and spam-blocking actions that can impair future e-mail campaigns.

The study also found that 58% of e-commerce sites sent an identical first promotional e-mail to buyers as to nonbuyers, missing opportunities to personalize or adapt e-mails to current customers. Even worse, only 15% of online companies used data they received during the purchase process to target subsequent promotional messages to buyers.

Return Path conducted the study by purchasing products on e-commerce sites, as well as by registering but not making a purchase. The company monitored the transactional and promotional message streams, and how they differed depending on whether or not a purchase was made.

—Christopher Hosford

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