March 2005

Industry survey provides
e-marketing report card

The news remains optimistic for e-marketers who play by the rules. Three best practices continue to emerge as being key to successful e-marketing:

  • Follow opt-in protocol and get permission before sending out e-mail materials.
  • Use a house list as opposed to a rented or third-party list.
  • Stay away from promotional, hard-sell content. Keep content informative and objective.

MarketingSherpa survey results
MarketingSherpa's third annual e-mail marketing metrics survey, published in October, reported that 82% of respondents described their house list e-mail campaigns as "very effective" and "effective," second only in marketing effectiveness to their Web sites.

MarketingSherpa is a media company for marketers (

Conversion rates reported in its survey were 1-4 percentage points above average for those who used house lists. The highest percentage of respondents using house lists experienced conversion rates of approximately 23%.

The use of best practices in general is up as well, the survey results suggest. In 2003, 35% of respondents were sending e-mail without permission. But that figure dropped 11% for 2004.

Similarly, the number of "spam" complaints from recipients fell from 15% of respondents in 2003 to 9% in 2004.

While the exact number of e-marketers using their own house list was not indicated, 48% of respondents intend to increase the use of their house list for e-marketing campaigns.

Click-throughs (CTRs) to house lists have held their ground as well. Half the respondents reported "not a big change" in CTRs, 16% said they "increased significantly," and 5% reported a significant decrease in CTRs from 2003 to 2004. (The remaining respondents did not track clicks.)

The most improvement on CTRs came from newsletters sent to house lists; their CTRs were up 6% to 10%.

ClickZ Network report
ClickZ Network, an online resource for interactive marketing news and information (, generated a report last summer that specifically addressed the financial services industry. Here's an excerpt:

"Business publishers are among the leaders in delivery rates, with an average of 91.6%. That means more than nine out of 10 of their messages reach targeted readers' e-mail queues without being 'bounced.'"

The ClickZ report was particularly encouraging for financial services companies, which saw their average click-through rate rise to 11.8% for the first quarter of 2004 compared to 7.8% for first quarter 2003.

Controlling content, subject lines
We have reported on several occasions the difference in open rates for informative vs. promotional content. Now the Federal Trade Commission has further defined what is acceptable in this regard. The use of customer-centric content is now no longer just a good practice; it's become a vital component to compliance with CAN-SPAM regulations.

In December, the Direct Marketing Association issued a summation of the new FTC regulations. Both the subject line and body content will be scrutinized to assure they are either "transactional or relationship" in nature. Promotional or sales-oriented subject lines and/or content will have increasing difficulty in getting past spam filters. To read the full report, click here.

Looking ahead
The MarketingSherpa survey also asked respondents about their e-marketing plans for 2005. Here are some of their responses:

  • 48% will increase e-mail alerts to their house list.
  • 53% plan to spend more on their newsletters.
  • 32% will place more ads in third-party newsletters.
  • 48% will increase automated, action or event-triggered campaigns. (These may include e-mail notifications about seminars, special offers, webinars and other time sensitive topics that require notification and response).

FPS regularly works with financial services companies to maximize the impact of their client communications, including e-mail and online communications. If you would like to discuss marketing communications strategies with FPS President Vince DiPaolo, please contact him at 847-501-4120 or [email protected]. You can also write him at the following address:

Financial Publishing Services Co.
464 Central Avenue
Suite 8
Northfield, IL 60093

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MarketScope is a free service of Financial Publishing Services Co. that offers business-banking marketers ideas on how to communicate more effectively with clients. We welcome your comments and suggestions for future story ideas. Please direct them to:

Vince DiPaolo
Financial Publishing Services Co.
464 Central Ave., Suite 8
Northfield, IL 60093
847-501-4120 Voice
847-501-4122 Fax
[email protected]