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Consumers Say: E-Mail Ad Relevance Up in Last Year

  |  March 9, 2005   |  Comments

Consumers want more indicators of message legitimacy.

Almost 60 percent of consumers say email they receive from businesses are more targeted and relevant than messages received from the same companies one year ago, according to a study Bigfoot Interactive/RoperRSW study.

Responding to a related question, slightly over half of survey participants (53 percent) strongly or somewhat agreed email they receive is "usually targeted to my needs and interests."

The survey results indicate the progress at least some email marketers have made crafting and targeting messaging to meet consumer preferences, said Al DiGuido, chief executive of Bigfoot Interactive.

The nationally representative study polled American adults 18 years or older with home Internet access. Between February 18-20, 537 phone interviews were conducted with 260 women and 277 men.

Despite positive marks for relevancy, consumers appear to want more robust attention placed on email authentication by ISPs and email providers. Approximately 89 percent of strongly or somewhat agreed they would like their email service to include an icon that indicates email messages are authenticated as coming from a legitimate or trusted sender.

The study also found an overwhelming majority of Internet users are looking for help in unsubscribing from email lists. Over 85 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed their email provider should provide an unsubscribe option that would safely remove them from unwanted lists.

Respondents were divided about whether the last four digits of their credit card number should be included in email messages as way of validating the message came from their credit card provider. Approximately 54 percent of respondents disagreed the technique would be a desirable way to ensure legitimacy. On the flip side, 42 percent were in favor of the idea.

DiGuido stressed continued improvement in meeting consumer needs isn't a technology issue alone, but also an education task.

"While we emphasize the need for continued momentum on the technological front -- including authentication, accreditation, and reputation solutions, the importance of education can not be understated," DiGuido said. "We must focus even more energy and resources on teaching consumers about how to identify and distinguish between legitimate email and fraud in concert with other industry efforts."

With the array of obstacles that make it more difficult for email marketers to deliver messages into addressees' inboxes, and get them open and read, speculation about using RSS feeds as a supplement or alternative to email has percolated.

Yet a recent JupiterResearch study found implementation of RSS as a marketing tool remains more a concept than a widespread practice. Only 20 percent of marketers plan to deploy an RSS marketing campaign over the next 12 months.

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