ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44
Financial Times  

New trend or ahead of the times for Sri Lanka?

By Natasha Gunaratne

Luxury apartments, bathroom fittings, timber floor tiles, and desktop computers are just a sample of what is advertised through email these days. This is just a sampling of what email and Internet offers can get you. Inotrend International is an IT company that tapped into this growing trend and the increasing popularity of the Internet in Sri Lanka by starting e-advertising a year back. "There is so much potential in it and we want to give some benefits to the customers," said Abdul Careem, Business Development Consultant at Inotrend.

This is how it all works. Companies can sign up with Inotrend to advertise their products through email which will then be sent out to a database of clients comprising of the corporate and business database, government institutions and embassies. On average, Careem says that their customers have been happy with the response although there have been a few instances where some have gotten no inquiries. "This is because of the way the content or product is presented," said Careem.

Not all clients are interested in all types of products and the way in which it is presented is extremely important. "Some people will do a design for a newspaper and send the same thing for an email but the layout should be different in email than other media. The design should be more focused." The entire advertisement will not be visible on email because only the top section will be visible. If it does not catch the interest of customers, they will not scroll down to see what the rest of the advertisement is. Companies design their own email advertisements but Inotrend goes through all the designs and content to make it 'email friendly.' Careem says that all the emails go through a strict vetting process to ensure that very large attachments are not included since people with slow dial up connections will encounter....
downloading difficulties. Emails are only sent out once. "We don't repeat advertisements unless there are changes in content."

On average, Inotrend sends about two to three advertisements daily. Careem says training programmes, real estate related advertisements and job sites are the most popular when it comes to e-advertising. Inotrend closely monitors the mail delivery status of their clients. They use special technology that sends the email so that it will not be identified as bulk mail. "We monitor the delivery status to see if they are deleting our services. We take off those addresses and accounts of people who don't check their mail regularly or delete it without opening it," said Careem. Moreover, he also says that anyone not interested in receiving these emails can permanently unsubscribe from their services.

Neth Engineering Supplies and Services (Pvt) Ltd located in Thalawathugoda is advertising their line of products which include bathroom fittings, shower cubicles, furniture, glass and mirrors through email using the services provided by Inotrend. Business Development Manager, Ranjan Seneviratne told The Sunday Times FT that the company started advertising recently but is unable to say if sales have improved specifically due to this trend. "I cannot say that we have improved much but we get inquiries," he said. Seneviratne, who has been in marketing for close to 18 years says that the appeal of e-advertising for his company over campaigns in the print media is the cost difference. "In the print media, we have to spend more and I don't see that we are getting a real effect through it." Now that the country has developed, he sees more businesses gravitating towards the Internet.

Managing Director of M3Force (Pvt) Ltd, Mario Perumal said there was no serious increase in the number of inquiries. M3Force specializes in remotely monitored alarm systems as a way so safeguard homes from intruders. Perumal said the company used Inotrend's services twice but had a few inquiries.

However, he said that the cost factor when it comes to e-advertising which is dramatically less as opposed to print media advertising is certainly a consideration. Perumal said it is worth the cost even if ‘you get one sale or a couple of people get to know about it.' (NG)

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.