Teens make easy target for killer app

Having moved quickly beyond banner ads and buttons, marketers now consider e-mail one of the best ways to reach elusive target audiences....

Having moved quickly beyond banner ads and buttons, marketers now consider e-mail one of the best ways to reach elusive target audiences.

Cheap to produce and requiring a lot less effort than traditional direct marketing tactics, e-mail marketing can be a very effective way to communicate with consumers, on one condition – that the practice is executed with caution.

According to Ipsos-Reid’s Interactive Reid Report, based on quarterly surveys with over 1,000 online users, almost 80% of Canadians with Internet access have registered to receive e-mail newsletters or updates. The average Canadian Internet user has signed up for five e-mail products, which may have even naysayers turning their heads.

For teens, in particular, the novelty of e-mail is not about to wear off any time soon. Originally introduced as a means of exchanging information, the Web has evolved into a virtual shopping mall of socializing opportunities.

According to The Face of the Web: Youth, a 16-country study of young Internet users by Ipsos-Reid, nine in 10 young Internet users have tried e-mail, and seven in 10 have tried chat rooms. Another study by Toronto-based Youth Culture shows Canadian teens spending an average of more than nine hours per week online.

Whether chatting or surfing, it seems teens are inevitably led to their inbox. According to Face of the Web, watching or joining an online discussion is extremely popular among Internet users aged 12 to 24, and close to half of chat room participants in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the U.S. have had an ongoing e-mail exchange with someone they met online.

However, according to the Interactive Reid Report, Canadians continue to be inundated with unsolicited e-mail. This past quarter, 79% of Canadians claimed to have received unwanted e-mail, a percentage that has steadily climbed since 1999. A whopping one in three Canadians receive unsolicited e-mail once a day or more.

Despite the seemingly unlimited access to e-mail users, more marketers need to be cautious about how they manage this relationship.

How? By making sure you have a strong privacy pledge, and sticking with it. By ensuring your e-mail messages are relevant and meaningful, and by offering options to your users beyond simple text messages.

There remains a fine line between conveying a message and invading a user’s privacy, particularly for teens who view the Web as a community, not a commodity. By valuing those users willing to receive e-mail messages, and setting a positive example to attract new ones, marketers can avoid costly mistakes that could otherwise kill this killer app.

Marcie Sayiner (marcie.sayiner @ipsos-reid.com) is the senior manager of research with Ipsos-Reid (formerly the Angus Reid Group), focusing on Internet-related projects within their Western business unit, based in Vancouver. She is also a freelance writer who sits on the Board of Directors for AIMS ( www.aimscanada.com), the BCAMA, and the Professional Marketing Research Society’s (PMRS) Editorial Board.