Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Personal Information In E-mail Marketing Can Backfire, Study Indicates

Date:
July 1, 2008
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Businesses risk chasing away prospective customers when they send chummy E-mails that bandy around people's names, hobbies and other personal information to pitch sales, according to a new study of the popular marketing tool. "People bristle at personalization just for the sake of personalization," says lead author of the new study.

Tiffany Barnett White led a study of e-mail marketing. "People bristle at personalization just for the sake of personalization," she said.
Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

Businesses risk chasing away prospective customers when they send chummy e-mails that bandy around people’s names, hobbies and other personal information to pitch sales, according to a new study of the popular marketing tool.

“People bristle at personalization just for the sake of personalization,” said Tiffany Barnett White, a University of Illinois marketing professor who headed the research. “It comes across as too pushy. They want personalization that is relevant to them.”

To click, personalized e-mails need to offer value and also quickly explain how personal information such as buying tastes and leisure interests relates to the sales pitch, according to the study, which appears in Marketing Letters, a peer-reviewed journal.

“When messages are highly personalized, but lack value and justification, they have unintended effects,” White said. “They can actually have a boomerang effect and cast the firm in a negative light, sending customers running to the competition.”

The study surveyed undergraduate students to gauge response to marketing e-mails with varying amounts of personal data, ranging from just names and hometowns to more detailed information such as reading or cooking preferences.

In the end, the degree of personalization was less important than whether the pitch had value, and whether it told customers how the deal and their personal information intertwined, according to the study, co-written by marketing professors Sharon Shavitt of the U. of I., Helge Thorbjorsen of the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration and Debra Zahay of Northern Illinois University.

“If the offer was valuable and justified, the level of personal information didn’t matter,” White said. “Firms were no better off for throwing all of your personal information at you.”

She says the findings are surprising because the research is based on personal data provided voluntarily, rather than from credit-card companies and other third-party sources.

“Even when someone has volunteered their personal information, they still have preferences about how firms use it. They don’t want to be bombarded with a mountain of facts about themselves unless they perceive a very good benefit,” White said.

The study only looked at responses to messages with varying degrees of personalization, and White says more research is needed to gauge whether marketers should consider abandoning personalization completely and just focus on offering value.

“I can’t make any statements now about whether firms should just not spend money on personalization. But I think the big takeaway from this research is that personalization might not matter and it may actually hurt,” White said.

In the meantime, she says marketing firms should use personalized e-mails to convey value, rather than just trying to “wow” prospective buyers with detail about them.

“Don’t just use a tool because you have it,” White said. “Use it with the consumer’s perspective in mind. Think about the psychology, not just the technology. There needs to be a perceived value to personalized messages.”

Without value, personalized e-mails can backfire, making consumers feel threatened by sales pitches they consider over the top, she said.

“That can really give smaller businesses an advantage,” White said. “At the extreme, it could make consumers go searching for competitors that they might not otherwise have gone searching for. Those smaller firms probably don’t even have the technology to do that, and consumers find that somehow refreshing.”

“Nowadays, consumers are so much more savvy,” she said. “They’re so bombarded with tricks of this nature that they start to seem like tricks. So the onus in on marketers to convince consumers that this isn’t a trick, that it has some value.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Personal Information In E-mail Marketing Can Backfire, Study Indicates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701145102.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2008, July 1). Personal Information In E-mail Marketing Can Backfire, Study Indicates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701145102.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Personal Information In E-mail Marketing Can Backfire, Study Indicates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701145102.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins