September 28, 2005, 12:00 AM

SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT: Making the most of the email marketing tool

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With the holes in tracking ability, Adams cautions that ROI calculations are difficult when it comes to e-mail. Its haphazard, at best, he says. There are no magic tracking solutions that work. Marketers need to combine tracking with other solutions. Use statistical regression analysis, look at how your marketing campaigns perform over time, isolate the variables, he says. Theres no magic bullet.

On top of all the concerns about how to execute and track e-mail programs, are concerns about how e-mail marketing fits into the bigger organization. While many e-mail marketing managers focus on the execution of programs, organizations must ensure that their infrastructures are ready to meet the new demands of the e-mail marketing world, Harrison says. That readiness starts with a plan, he says. If youre going to be successful in e-mail marketing, you need a clear understanding of your goals and objectives, he says. If youre driven by sales, you need a plan around that. If youre a manufacturer, you might want a plan around purchasing and education. But you have to understand that a purchase program is very different from a purchase-and-education program.

Furthermore, the technological infrastructure has to be in place. It all comes down to the data infrastructure, Harrison says. Can you flag people as they move from one state of relationship with you to the next-as they move from a first-time buyer to a regular buyer to a lapsed customer

Cross-platform integration

Once a retailer achieves that, the ability to create a customer relationship management program grows even stronger, Harrison says. Then I can talk about how a customer relates to me in more than the e-mail channel, he says. For instance, someone may be a good customer, but a new customer in the e-mail channel. I should know that and treat them differently than I would someone whos a totally new customer where the primary relationship is through e-mail. My Welcome message to one will be different from my Welcome message to the other.

Achieving that level of sophisticated insight leads back to the requirement that e-mail marketing databases tie into customer databases. Yesmail offers the ability to link those. We have a number of clients that tell us, Ive got the raw transaction data, but I dont have the technology to do anything with it, Harrison says. We are very good at utilizing the data infrastructure of a company to help support their e-mail marketing.

What the latest movements in the e-mail marketing arena all boil down to is taking a powerful marketing medium to the next level. E-mail marketers have been dong the same thing for a number of years and many have reached the point where theyre not seeing enough value, Harrison says. Now theyre interested in what they need to do to catapult their programs to the next level.

Once that happens, it will be clear that the spam, deliverability and frequency concerns that have characterized the first few years of e-mail marketing will have been just the birth pangs of a powerful new industry.

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