September 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT: E-Mail Marketing: Sailing High in Troubled Waters

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Having in-house control makes it more likely that the important things will get done, Adams says. For one thing, Adams says, many customers believe they can deal more effectively with ISPs to stay on their white lists. For another, he says, many marketers fear being on a server with other marketers, some of whom may be blocked by an ISP. "That is why so many of our customers want to do this in-house," Adams says.

But just as important, Adams notes, are the cost savings that come from an in-house operation. "You no longer have to pay per batch, per e-mail or per month," he says. He estimates that a marketer sending 100,000 e-mails a month can experience a 50% reduction in cost, even taking into account the IT staff and licensing fees for a database. "That means you can communicate more frequently with your customers because you are not constrained by the costs," he says.

To get response, you`ve got to send

Arial`s software includes an e-mail composing engine, a segmentation function, as well as the sending engine. It also incorporates a tracking function, a reporting mechanism that can tell how many e-mails failed in delivery, an unsubscribe manager and reports on click-throughs. Entry level cost is $495 to purchase, although the cost for an enterprise system ranges from $1,495 to $17,000, depending on the number of users. A 25% annual maintenance fee is optional.

Many marketers and their software and service providers have been intensely focused on deliverability and spam issues the last few years and that has created a market for products such as those sold by DoubleClick and Arial Software. But a recent survey by Arial was an eye-opener as to the state of e-mail marketing. Adams signed up for e-mail newsletters at 1,057 retail, manufacturer, publishing and financial services sites to test how much spam would result. He was shocked when 36% never sent a single piece of e-mail. "E-mail marketing today is way under-utilized," Adams says.

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