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THE DMA TELLS HOUSE: E-mail marketing is boon to small businesses
NEW YORK, October 30, 2003 – E-mail marketing plays a vital role in enabling small businesses to break into and effectively compete in the marketplace, Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale today told a House panel.
In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Oversight, Cerasale said, "the Internet has dramatically reduced the cost of contacting consumers through legitimate commercial e-mail." "Where sending prospecting letters via postal mail or hiring a sales force may cost thousands – even millions – of dollars, e-mail may be sent for a fraction of the cost – increasing competition and decreasing costs for consumers," he said.
Cerasale cited a survey commissioned by The DMA earlier this year that found that 45.8 million Americans had made at least one purchase in the previous 12 months in response to a legitimate e-mail advertisement for bedrock goods and services such as books, travel, and clothing. Those purchases generated at least $7.1 billion in sales, he said.
The same DMA survey, Cerasale continued, found that nearly a quarter of these e-mail consumers, or about 11 million adult Americans, had made a purchase in response to a legitimate unsolicited commercial e-mail. Moreover, he noted, fully 72 percent of surveyed respondents indicated that their purchase in response to an unsolicited commercial e-mail had represented cost-savings.
"Clearly, opportunities abound for small entrepreneurs seeking to win customers via e-mail by making competitive offers," Cerasale said. "The low barriers to customer acquisition made possible by e-mail directly results in newer or improved products, lower prices, and increased savings to customers who are willing to open up legitimate e-mail from new firms of which they may have never heard."
"Of course, one barrier to this is spam," Cerasale told the House members, "and we support measures like the RID Spam Act to purge the Internet of spammers."
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"DMA research shows that some 28 percent of small businesses do not have in-house e-mail lists of customers," said Cerasale. "This means that they are much more dependent than are large businesses on being able to e-mail in order to obtain customers, if they are to grow their enterprises. Therefore, proposals such as those calling for a legally required ‘opt-in’ e-mail regime or a national do-not-e-mail registry would disproportionately affect small businesses."
The DMA is the leading trade association for businesses interested in interactive and database marketing, with nearly 4,700 member companies from the United States and 53 other nations. Founded in 1917, its members include direct marketers from every business segment as well as the nonprofit and electronic marketing sectors. Included are catalogers, Internet retailers and service providers, financial services providers, book and magazine publishers, book and music clubs, retail stores, industrial manufacturers and a host of other vertical segments, including the service industries that support them. According to a DMA-commissioned economic-impact study, direct and interactive marketing sales in the United States are projected to have surpassed $1.7 trillion in 2003, including $133 billion in catalog sales and $41 billion in sales generated by the Internet. The DMA's Web site iswww.the-dma.org, and its consumer Web site is www.shopthenet.org.
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