Survey: Careful Marketers Can Benefit from Online Promotions

Consumers are willing to participate in online promotional programs even it means giving up some personal information, according to a survey by PROMO Magazine and NFO Worldwide, which also found that television is not likely to drive Web traffic to online promotions.

The study, “Online and Offline Marketing Strategies: Making Them Work and Making Them Work Together,” was done in association with the Promotion Marketing Association. For the purposes of the survey, a promotion was defined as any special offer that enticed consumers to buy.

According to the study, while 85 percent of online and 78 percent of offline respondents have participated in a promotion in the past six months, the online audience is more attractive for marketers because it contains a greater per-capita proportion of “frequent participators” than the offline audience. More than two-thirds of the online population participates in a promotion at least once a month, compared to half of the offline population. The researchers also found that consumers utilizing the Internet are more likely to participate in both online and offline promotions than the general population.

One reason for online users being a more active promotion may lie in the interactivity of the Internet. As opposed to sitting back and waiting for promotions to come to them, many Internet users actively seek out online promotions, according to Peter Breen, editor of PROMO Magazine.

As for the myth that television drives participation in Internet promotions, the survey found that while 81 percent of respondents have participated in a promotion in the past six months, their main influence to do so was the Internet (60 percent), print ads (57 percent), and email (51 percent). Television failed to crack the top five.

While privacy concerns have been cited as a major reason that online consumers will not take part in promotions that require them to submit personal information, the survey found that’s not usually the case. More than 80 percent of consumers have no problem sharing their name, age, occupation, gender, email, and home address if they feel the potential reward is of sufficient value.

But long forms and security issues will still drive consumers away from online promotions. Eighty-four percent of online respondents have abandoned programs that require too much information. Among the information they will not give out: work or home phone numbers and income levels. More than three-quarters (78 percent) have left a promotion because it required too much effort. Ninety percent of online respondents have abandoned a promotion because of concerns about the security of their data.

When done properly, the results are impressive: two out of three online consumers say they would be extremely or very likely to buy a product associated with a promotion in which they had participated, while a similar percentage said they were extremely or very satisfied with a promotion in which they participated. Only six percent said that participating in a promotion had a negative impact on their feelings about the sponsoring brand.

Marketers who use online promotions still have to very careful, Breen said. The best advice is to ask for simple information, such as a participant’s email address first, and then use it to ask for more information. There is a tendency for consumers to leave when asked for too much information in the early stages. For example, the survey found consumers were unwilling to share information such as purchase histories.

“This research reinforces the tremendous upside potential and the limited downside risk of Internet promotions, while indicating that marketers can most effectively utilize a combined on- and offline communication strategy to reach both groups rather than trying to target each group separately,” said Kerry Smith, group publisher of PROMO Magazine and American Demographics. “However, the research also suggests that marketers may be too eager to grab as much data as they can up front, degrading their opportunity to build more robust databases over time.”

The study was sponsored by Discovery Networks, Valassis Communications, Save.com, Promotions.com, Catalina Marketing Corp., Realtime Media, Frankel Convergence, and StartSampling, Inc..

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