333 Westchester Ave.
White Plains, NY 10604
President, List Management
and Interactive Services
From early on, MeritDirect placed an emphasis on email marketing, says Rob Sanchez, President, List Management and Interactive Serv-ices. As a result, the company considers itself a leader in e-marketing, particularly in the b-to-b space.
"When we started in 2000, email marketing was more the exception than the rule," he says. "List owners questioned whether they should put their email list on the market. Now list owners are in a situation where they're looking to monetize their assets and create added revenue streams. Email is a great way to do that in the b-to-b market. We've had a great year so far on the email front and expect Q4 to be very strong."
Having several blue-chip email products under Merit-Direct's management and seeing much of the activity in that space, Sanchez feels comfortable making assumptions about the industry as a whole. "All indications are that email has settled in rather nicely when used for acquisition purposes," he says. "We're seeing a big upside this year and anticipate 2007 to continue to be strong."
But with email, deliverability and response issues are always a challenge. "We've focused a lot on technology and helping our clients deliver their email," says Sanchez. "We try to be a step ahead by doing response analyses to see what works for what markets and who should be using email for prospects. We're proactive with our list owners on the front end too, by constantly analyzing controls, monitoring the frequency of emails to individual lists and screening offers pretty aggressively." Response rates are producing a high degree of success in the technology category for software, executive education and seminars.
"We're digging deeper into our current services," says Sanchez, "but we've also gotten a little wider. Since a lot of our clients rely on us for e-marketing, we created the Solutions Group to provide Web tools and analytics, build Web sites and landing pages, and offer Web consulting services. We've built tools specifically for online list ordering, campaign management and other Web-based services that take us beyond just selling lists. This has really helped our clients make additional revenue and serve their bigger customers."
In b-to-b, publishers report print ad sales are flat or soft, but online ad sales are growing rapidly. So they're focusing a lot of attention online, he says. "We're looking at how they monetize email databases, coordinate database activity across channels, collect names and what questions they ask when they collect those names. People are collecting more email addresses; they're also going deeper and collecting more data." With a good email list with lots of selects, the mailer's message can be targeted to a very specific audience.
Sanchez recommends that list owners use all their corporate resources to build a robust database. When selling subscriptions on the Web, collect email addresses and capture as much additional information as possible. Then, when sending out an email campaign, pay attention to the results to determine the optimum mailing frequency. "When you look at frequency, response rates, open rates and remove rates, you can really come up with a pretty good picture of audience acceptance," he says. "It's important to keep a calendar and monitor the activity across all your efforts. You need to know how people are responding to your offers and how often they're receiving them."
MeritDirect just completed a study that showed an inverted relationship between the number of emails people received and how likely they were to remove themselves from the mailing list. "The people who unsubscribe from the list usually do it after the first or second email they receive," says Sanchez. "Someone receiving frequent emails wants to get those offers, particularly in the b-to-b world, because the removals are almost nonexistent." All in all, people are using email, they're making it work, and they're continuing to spend their money;"which is how we judge it," says Sanchez.
MeritDirect's clients with email lists on the market include CMP Technology, BusinessWeek, CFO Magazine, Penton Media, Advanstar, and Advertising Age.