Email Marketing Driving Offline Purchases

    September 29, 2009

Consumers worldwide are using online communication tools and responding to permission-based email (PBE) in varying ways based on their country of origin, according to a recent study by Epsilon.

The study found North American (87%) and European (74%) respondent are more likely than their peers in Asia Pacific (APAC) (58%) to use email as their main online communications tool.

As the primary channel for communication, instant messaging is considerably high in APAC with 28 percent while text/SMS and social networking remain consistently low across all regions.

Email is also replacing other channels of communication. Over one-third of respondents have replaced traditional channels in favor of email communications from banks (40%), promotional postal mail (38%) and telemarketing (34%).

Tools for Online Communications

Permission-based emails are more likely get actions from APAC respondents including clicking on a website, signing up for more information, watching a video clip, clicking on an advertised link or purchasing online or offline. APAC also leads in usage of a PDA or Smartphone for email with 32 percent, significantly more than North America (9%) and Europe (7%).

Consumers also take a variety of offline actions including visiting a store (49%) and purchasing by phone (25%) or catalog (25%) which reinforces the need for marketers to use a multi-channel strategy. More than half (59%) of APAC consumers report making an offline purchase as a result of email communications, followed by North America (53%) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (37%).

Another interesting difference by region is what leads consumers to open a permission-based email. Over half of APAC respondents feel that "subject" lines are the most compelling feature, over two-thirds of North American and European respondents select the "from" line. Discount offers, free product offers, familiar brand names and personalization of subject lines increase the likelihood of opening among all respondents.

"In order to reach consumers at the right time with the most appropriate message, it is critical that multichannel marketers understand consumer behavior and properly adjust their message, timing, and overall strategy to ensure success," according to Andrew Frawley, President, Email and Digital Solutions at Epsilon.

"This research also clearly demonstrates that the email channel does not exist in isolation from other online and offline channels. Organizations must integrate these email best practices with communications in other channels to deliver the highest ROI programs."

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Respondents cite security and lack of attractive offers/promotions as the primary reasons why they do not interact with the emails they receive;
  • North American respondents are the most likely to unsubscribe; Irrelevant content and frequency are cited as the two most likely reasons for un-subscription;
  • About eight in ten North American respondents have added PBE addresses to safe sender lists; overall, more than half of respondents have added PBE addresses to safe sender lists;
  • Respondents are most concerned about viruses, identity theft, phishing, and scams; Concerns about phishing and pharming have increased significantly from 2005 to 2009 for US respondents;