Internet Special Report--E-mail Done Right (1,783 words)
Best Practices for this exploding medium
By Edward Fischer
Done right, e-mail marketing can bring you new customers and more revenue at a lower cost than ever before. Done wrong, it can generate virtually no response. Worse, it can alienate, confuse or anger your current customers.
About 536 billion e-mail messages were sent in the United States during 2000, according to New Century Communications. With about 100 million e-mail users in the United States, that comes to more than 5,000 messages per year, per person—or nearly 15 messages per user per day, every day of the year. Even if you're skeptical about the numbers, there can be no doubt that e-mail as a medium is exploding.
Jupiter Communications, the New York-based e-commerce research firm, says 65 percent of companies spend 1 percent to 5 percent of their total marketing budgets on e-mail marketing. An additional 22 percent of companies spend more than 5 percent.
At the 2001 Catalog Tech show held in New York City this year, Geoff Smith of ClickAction, a marketing consultancy specializing in online campaigns, in his presentation "E-Mail Marketing Done Right," highlighted what marketers should view as best practices for this still-developing industry. Smith, ClickAction's director of client programs, says a watershed of sorts recently was reached—there are now more e-mail addresses than phone numbers active in the world. Considering the head start that phones have had, this is quite an achievement—and a clear sign that there are terrific new opportunities for marketers.
What successful e-mail strategies are marketers employing these days? Following are some highlights.
Data mining from all sources
As companies try to get closer to their customers, they're working harder to integrate data from myriad sources, including brick-and-mortar retail locations, call centers, and e-commerce inquiries and transactions. Smith thinks that integration is an important prerequisite for making e-mail campaigns successful. Some e-tailers are investing in specialized software that links disparate databases for even better segmentation and targeting. Some CRM (customer relationship management) software vendors now include e-mail and Web channel management tools in their offerings.