Sales E-Mail Gets Thumbs Down

According to research by Cognitiative Inc., one-third of consumers dislike sales-oriented email so much they avoid the vendors that send it. Only telemarketing rated as more intrusive than email, Cognitiative found.

The findings were included in research conducted by Cognitiative on personalization, privacy, and targeted marketing on the Web.

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Personalization of Web sites works best when customers feel they are the ones controlling it and making decisions about how it is used, the research found. Customers like to control what information is presented to them, request information based on specification, and link to sites that interest them.

Customers do not like the perception that their personal information is being abused. When personalization goes awry, consumers perceive it as intrusive. When personalization works, consumers say it saves them time and broadens their exposure.

It’s all an issue of control,” said Cognitiative CEO Laurie Windham. “Online users feel very strongly about intrusive marketing practices, and are choosing via their keyboards with whom they do business.”

In addition to sales-oriented email, customer service also got a thumbs down in Cognitiative’s research. Customers prefer responses within a few hours, but one day is acceptable. Good customer service pays off on a World Wide Web that often fails miserably when it comes to responding to customers.

“To date, online customer service has been so dismal for many customers that when vendors are actually responsive, the customer is surprised, delighted, and loyal for life,” Windham said.

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