Special Report: E-Mail Marketing Solutions to Delivery, SPAM, List and Frequency Problems
Vertical marketing efforts, the right frequency and new technology and services offered by vendors can help ensure your e-mail is opened and read.
By Linda Zebian
Long gone are the days of e-mail blasts as the central component to a marketing campaign. Stand-alone e-mail marketing platforms have taken a back seat in the past few years and are now a complementary aspect to larger marketing programs that can include events, microsites, mobile promotions, print campaigns, special offers online and the like.
"E-mail marketing is not something we think is useless but it has definitely taken a secondary role," says Maxim marketing director Mike Yeon. "It works in a 360-degree capacity. You would never base an entire campaign on an e-mail blast."
As a result of the high volume and excessive frequency of commercial e-mails, Web users are hitting the spam and delete keys, and some even set up junk e-mail accounts, a secondary fake account created solely for promotional e-mails that never gets checked. "We know from reader research that people have an e-mail account for when they sign up for something, so we’re thinking some of our messages end up there," says Yeon.
In the past few years e-mail marketing has become highly-targeted and highly-content based. E-mails not sent using vertical marketing to specific recipients for relevant promotions and from trusted sources often remain unopened. "We live in a fragmented and highly-cluttered media world where consumers are time-starved," says Chris Schraft, president of Time Inc. Content Solutions, a division of Time Inc. that builds customized relationship marketing programs for clients. "Direct marketers are going to have to place a greater emphasis and put a premium on the notion of engagement and the ability to interact with the consumer in a very meaningful and powerful way."
Whether marketing to readers or advertisers, the key to sending e-mails is relevancy and frequency. Understanding what kind of content your recipients want and will be inclined to engage in is the first step. This requires vertical targeting and spending some time with your lists to ensure the right people are receiving the appropriate messages,
So how often is too often? There’s no right answer to frequency, says Schraft, it depends on the campaign and the recipient. But oftentimes because e-mail is so much cheaper than direct mail, marketers can get carried away without even realizing it. "In most cases recipients setting filters, or using spam or block features is a result of abuse of frequency," says Schraft. "It’s a violation by marketers of that permission consumers believe they are granting for contact."
As e-mail becomes a less central and more peripheral ingredient of marketing campaigns, new technologies are emerging. The goal now for many publishers is to better integrate e-mail into other messaging campaigns, and new software and services are available, making the integration easier.
E-mail is still a valuable marketing tool, especially for events, surveys, subscriptions and re-qualification purposes, but list quality is crucial to success. Online and e-mail marketing specialists now offer a variety of resources and services that assist in tracking and maintaining e-mail. "Technology is becoming more important as ISPs are tightening up their restrictions," says Richard Hoffmann, president of online marketing company Synergy-Interactive.
Hanley Wood uses a new service from a company called Bamboo Cricket, which essentially closes the loop between e-mail and customer service. When a response to an e-mail (whether feedback or a question from the recipient, out of the office responses, spam-claimed complaints or server responses) is made, Bamboo Cricket provides customer service and processes requests within 24 hours. Various responses flow into different "buckets" so that no reply goes unread. Then, appropriate messages are directed to the appropriate person at the company. "A lot of complaints from recipients are ﾑI had a question and no one responded,’" says Hoffmann, who works directly with Hanley Wood’s circulation department. "This system is the solution to that problem."
For more on e-mail marketing solutions, and a round-up of new technology offers from e-marketing providers, see the whole story in Folio:’s March issue