FREMONT CA – Do they want it? Will they value it? Does it annoy them? Those are three questions real estate agents must ask themselves about e-mail newsletters sent to clients or prospects, following the release Wednesday (Feb. 18, 2004) of a lengthy study published by an Internet marketing consultant.

Nielsen Norman Group, a California-based firm that focuses on Web selling strategies, finds consumers complain most about e-mail newsletters that are unsolicited (they didn’t ask for them), contain untargeted content (the articles don’t interest them), or connect them to web pages containing pop-up advertising (they pester them).

“Newsletters need to be smooth and easy: they must be seen to reduce the burdens of modern life,” the company says. “Even if free, the cost in e-mail clutter must be paid for by being helpful and relevant to users, and by communicating these benefits in a few characters in the subject line.”

The 293-page study, titled Email Newsletter Usability, follows up on a similar study Nielsen Norman conducted in 2001. It concludes that recipients do a good job separating wheat from chaff in their inboxes: they readily know what’s spam, and what’s not. And when they get e-mails they didn’t request, they are prone to blocking future dispatches with a one-button click on their spam-filtering software.

The study was based on 101 e-mail newsletters sent to recipients in 12 states and five other countries. It is available for purchase ($298) direct from the authors, and also was the subject of reports in MediaPost, Publish, ClickZ News, and DMnews.

This article was originally published at Joe Zlomek’s Docket