6 Tips on How to Use E-mail for Market Research
In its short lifetime, e-mail has proven itself as an incredibly effective sales tool. According to the Direct Marketing Association, every dollar invested in e-mail marketing returns $45.65, more than twice as much as other online media and nearly three times as much as direct mail. With these heady numbers, marketers might be excused from thinking about other uses for e-mail.
However, marketers who fail to look beyond sales do so at a great potential loss. In particular, these marketers will overlook a hidden capability of e-mail: market research. While using e-mail for market research has its limitations, it brings substantial advantages in cost and speed to answer.
First, let us recognize that just about any e-mail with a call to action offers a rudimentary form of market research. Imagine a retailer with 10 items in its e-mail. By seeing which item gets the most clicks, the retailer can not only determine which item has the greatest popularity overall, but it can also determine much more by analyzing the results based on who clicked on what. By measuring clicks across any member data (past purchases, demographic information, etc.), the retailer could determine what kinds of people liked which kinds of merchandise. The principle applies to more than just retailers, of course. A business services marketer could use this kind of research to determine what kinds of customers have interests in different service offerings.
Second, let us recognize what e-mail-driven market research cannot do. E-mail-based research cannot take the place of a traditional, blind survey with a balanced sample. Your customers will know who sent them an invitation to a survey (you) and your sample will depend on what kinds of customers you have in your list. The lack of anonymity means that customers' perceptions of your brand may color their answers, good or bad. The discrepancy between your customers and a national sample means that you may not realistically project the results to the nation at large.