Why Consumers Don’t Give Out Their E-mail Addresses

Almost every multichannel business has seen a reduction in the number of orders flowing through the call center and, conversely, an increase in the amount coming in via the web. The focus of e-mail campaigns and other Internet marketing is quickly shifting in emphasis towards retention. For many firms, convincing an existing customer to buy again may only require a single e-mail.

But not all customers respond to e-mail campaigns. What should you do with those for whom you do not have an e-mail address?

Try this test: Segment your customers by the existence or non-existence of an active e-mail address, and measure the response differentials. If Those who do not provide it are probably not buying from your website – especially since most sites require an e-mail contact address to place an order.

Here are a few major reasons why customers do not provide an e-mail address.

  • Some people are not web savvy. While this group of customers is becoming a smaller portion of your housefile, not everyone is computer literate – not yet, anyway. Certain merchandise categories cater to certain demographics. Be aware of your customers and their online comfort level.
  • Fear of identity theft. In reality, this can occur anywhere, but many individuals still feel more vulnerable making online purchases.
  • Some visitors may be B2B or SOHO shoppers who have never purchased on your site. Many B2B customers place larger orders, purchase orders, or custom orders that cannot operationally be placed online and consequently, require more personal attention.
  • Customers opt out of receiving e-mail promotions. It goes without saying–these folks cannot be marketing to online.

Review your house file. Check to see the percentage of records without e-mail addresses. Be sure to include customers who have provided addresses but have opted out of receiving e-mail promotions.
We have run recent tests have found catalog response rates of older non-e-mail customers to be as much as 20% higher than customers with similar RFM attributes who have given you an e-mail address.

Jim Whitford is marketing manager at San Rafael, CA-based catalog consultancy Lenser.

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