Holidays to Restore E-mail Marketing Levels

Around 30 percent more small business advertisers are expected to use e-mail marketing this holiday season compared to last year. According to research conducted by e-mail marketing firm Constant Contact, small and medium-sized businesses will use online marketing channels substantially more than they did during last year’s holiday period, suggesting they are beginning to reinvest in online after a dip in 2008, likely caused by the recession.

The survey — which questioned 1,187 respondents — found 89 percent of SMBs plan to make use of e-mail marketing this year, compared with 60 percent in 2008. In addition, 27 percent say they plan to use display ads or other online marketing, compared with 19 percent doing so last year. Over half are also making use of social media marketing tactics through services such as Twitter and Facebook, the survey says.

At the beginning of the month, Experian predicted similar uplift in e-mail over the holiday period, estimating volumes among all advertisers will increase 30 percent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to last year. The firm’s holiday marketing report also finds that, compared to promotions offered in 2007, 60 percent of merchants reported increasing the frequency of promotional e-mails in 2008. It also found that e-mail was the second most effective means of attracting sales, trailing only paid search listings.

However, rather than representing a period of considerable growth, Constant Contact’s survey seems to suggest smaller businesses are simply returning to the channel after a difficult 2008. For example, 86 percent of respondents were using e-mail marketing when questioned in 2007, and 38 percent said they were already using online marketing or banner ads.

Commenting on the report, Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman acknowledged the period of increased economic difficulties that has faced businesses, but suggested it has helped them “learn to promote themselves through new platforms, and developed habits and practices that will serve them well in any kind of economy.”

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