October 21, 2004, 12:00 AM

Making transactional e-mail to customers do double duty

DoubleClick’s DARTmail platform adds Real Time Messaging. The feature lets retailers add marketing messages to transactional e-mails such as order confirmations – in HTML, to improve on the appearance of text – and track performance metrics.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

DoubleClick Inc. has launched a new feature to its DARTmail e-mail platform that allows marketers to centralize their contact strategy and leverage for marketing use transactional e-mail to customers that’s been largely untapped for that purpose. Real Time Messaging automatically deploys and delivers e-mail messages in response to consumer actions, such as order confirmations and shipping notifications, and gives marketers the reporting on the e-mail performance metrics, such as click-through and open rate, that they track for marketing e-mail. “For the first time, it gives marketers the ability to measure and enhance the performance of their transactional and operational e-mail," notes Adam Benjamin, vice president and general manager of DoubleClick’s e-mail solutions.

Traditionally, such e-mail communication has been managed by the IT services or fulfillment team, not the marketing department, according to DoubleClick. But with the addition of the feature to DoubleClick`s e-mail platform, all outbound e-mail communication can be centralized within marketing. That lets operational and transactional messages do double duty by incorporating marketing messages.

Centralizing the administration of transactional; and operational e-mails within the marketing department also will improve the management of customer contact frequency. The new feature also can help ensure that brand consistency is reinforced on all messages, according to DoubleClick, as it allows marketers to use HTML rather than text in transactional e-mails.

DoubleClick’s 2004 consumer e-mail study, released this week, shows that the majority of e-mail recipients expect to receive transactional e-mail, and that many would accept marketing messages within these e-mails. 95% of the survey respondents expect to receive e-mail from merchants for order confirmation, while 90% expect shipping information e-mails and 79% expect to receive billing information by email. Of these, 52% say they would find it useful if these e-mails contained related offers.

Account statements represent another opportunity as a marketing vehicle, according to the study, with 54% of respondents currently receiving account statements by e-mail, according to the study.

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