News Focus: e-marketing - Firms go green with online

A Grant Thornton survey has revealed that 70 per cent of large UK companies plan to increase spend on e-marketing over the next three years - mainly because of environmental pressures and cost-cutting moves.

The management consultant's survey on the future of the print industry revealed that companies boosting spend would increase their online budgets by an average of about 35 per cent, while around one-third of businesses surveyed reported that they intend to slash print spending by 20 per cent in 2007.

"The public is getting more and more used to reading online," said Daniel Smith, a print industry expert from Grant Thornton. "Corporates are taking the view that some of their marketing materials can be delivered just as effectively online as in print - in some instances, even more effectively given the real-time benefits."

The report showed that 62 per cent of the respondents' expansion of e-marketing activity was motivated by cost cutting while 53 per cent cited environmental pressures as a reason. Only 35 per cent said they were making the move because of confidence in the effectiveness of new media.

The survey's findings come hot on the heels of Royal Mail's news that direct mail volumes had fallen 2.1 per cent in 2006, with expenditure in the UK dropping to £2.32 billion in 2006, from £2.37bn the previous year.

Richard Gibson, chair of the Direct Marketing Association's Email Benchmarking Hub, said Grant Thornton's main findings on the rise of e-marketing were generally in line with recent results from DMA surveys.

But he went on to say he did not necessarily see the rise in email marketing coming at the expense of direct mail, despite the recent drop in postal volumes. "Email marketing in isolation can be very effective but the trend, I'd suggest, is towards integrated campaigns," he said.

Gibson also observed that, although some customers prefer electronic communications, some would always prefer print despite pressures over the environmental impact. "Organisations are becoming more environmentally aware - which the DMA is very actively encouraging - but this doesn't necessarily mean swapping one medium for another. The priority should be to use both print and email in a responsible way."

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