Report: Direct E-Mail Promotions Best at Attracting Buyers

While e-tailers have dropped billions this year on traditional advertising, a report released Wednesday by market research firm E-BuyersGuide.com says direct email promotions have been the most effective at driving buyers to e-commerce sites.

In a survey of 657 online consumers E-BuyersGuide.com conducted between December 10 and December 22, 63 percent said they found their e-retailers by replying to email promotions.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed said coupons drew them to sites, and 38 percent cited banner advertising as an influence. Surprisingly, only 29 percent said traditional advertising had motivated their decision.

“This survey legitimizes the value of opt-in email promotions — they are not viewed by everyone as spam,” says Irwin Barkan, chairman of E-BuyersGuide.com.

“In fact, e-retailers who relied too heavily on expensive traditional advertising may have a lot of explaining to do in January when investors want to know where their money went.”

Shopping bots, according to the survey, are becoming a bigger influence. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they had found e-tailers through bots that search for specific products, and 15 percent said they’d used price bots to find a site.

Once people logged onto a site, the survey shows, 72 percent of those surveyed used special discount promotions. Sixty-three percent used free shipping; 58 percent used coupons; and 49 used reward or points programs.

“This data also suggests that e-retailers were correct in spending heavily on targeted promotional discounting and personalization this holiday season,” says Barkan.

“We will see in the first half of 2000 how this translates to repeat business. The jury is out on the financial impact to the e-retailers of ‘buying’ the sales with heavy discounting. Traditional retailers know that periods of discount must be followed by profitability to avoid disaster.”

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