What E-Mail Marketing Really Needs

  |  July 26, 2007   |  Comments

E-mail isn't about best practices - it's about making money.

It's July, and hotter than heck here in New York City. It could be all this heat and humidity is taking its toll on my sense of humor. Earlier this month, comes breaking news from the Direct Marketing Association that the organization will assume legal ownership of The Email Experience Council (EEC) and merge it into their Email Marketing Council committee to again develop best practices and guidelines in and around e-mail marketing.

Seems the EEC is working on guidelines around e-mail list growth, deliverability, rendering and enhancing user experiences. I would have hoped by now -- fully 7 years since I got started in the e-mail communications business -- the conversation and insights we'd be discussing would have gone well beyond guidelines on around issues such as e-mail list growth.

That's why today I'm announcing the formation of the EROI Council. No press releases, committee meetings, chairs or co-chairs. Most of the "direct marketers" I encounter are more concerned about driving incremental sales and profits for their companies. They continue to watch the interactive channel's explosive growth and are in desperate need of real insight, case studies, and organizations that can provide them hands-on assistance to transform strategies and executions into winning efforts.

While issues surrounding e-mail list growth and deliverability may be the fodder of committee meetings, I believe most DMA members are struggling to figure out how to craft strategies that provide them with a competitive edge in acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, and building profitable lifetime customer relationships.

We marketing professionals continue to sit on the edge of these discussions, all th e whie issuing guidelines and best practices. What we really need are workshops where professionals who are knowledgeable and have track records of leveraging new media can examine marketers' specific issues and provide specific, tactical advice and direction about how to improve. Deliverability? It's been debated for the last six years.

Isn't it time we move the discussion to helping marketers make the most of the mail that actually does get delivered, and show them tactical ways to build better relationships?

Surely some DMA marketers would be interested in providing insight into ways in which they transformed an existing strategy into one that leveraged data, segmentation, and personalization capabilities available in the marketplace today and were highly successful in ringing the cash register. In my former position, I met client after client who was brimming with excitement over the incredible ROI they generated. Shouldn't the DMA and its member committees be focused on sharing success stories and the specific tactics used to generate such a results? In an age when in which we don't have a heck of a lot of time, this would essential information would connect us to associations and organizations whose purpose is to provide business-building information.

I've waited too long for the DMA to embrace the integrated marketing strategy discussion and provide all of us with tactics and case studies that demonstrate how utilizing both off- and online media in an integrated manner can actually generate incredible ROI, rather than using these media channels in isolation. Each passing year, we see more and more of the consumer audience turn away from print media to embrace the Web as their preferred medium for gaining insight, building community, and transacting.

While I don't think direct mail and print publications will ever go away (though they might -- just consider the number of magazines that have ceased operation in the last 12 months), it's reckless for knowledgeable marketing professionals not focusing attention directly on the key issue: how do I build integrated off- and online customer acquisition and retention strategies?

We need workshops that dissect winning campaigns and dialogues with customers that move the needle. We need relevant and personal insight, directions, and tactics marketers can use the very next day to transform their business. I'd venture to say marketers would be very willing to ante up extra dollars to support such programs and efforts if attending these sessions truly provided specific business building ideas that generate positive ROI.

We need less keynotes and panels and more expert one-on-ones that provide greater value.

Then there's the "Googleization" of marketing. We're watching one company set guidelines and best practices around customer acquisition, reducing marketing to a sale strategy based on key words while draining huge amounts of dollars from advertising and communications budgets around the world. And we're silent.

In the next committee meeting let's start showing marketers more cost-effective methods to build lifetime value and retention strategies to counter their addiction to just-in-time transactions. If the current trend continues, more money will be spent in search marketing than any other channel in years to come. It's time that those of us who love marketing and believe in its vital role in building a profitable business stand up and wage an all-out effort to regain control of the strategies and tactics that guide successful businesses. Google is a very good tools company. There are many other tools in the marketplace.

If we don't get serious about focusing on customers' essential need, making money, and if we don't address leveraging data, media and messaging cost effectively and efficiently, the machines will win.

If you'd like to join me in forming the EROI Council, drop me a line.

Until next time,
Al D.

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Al DiGuido

Long recognized as one of the direct response industry's premier innovators and a pioneer in e-mail communications, Al DiGuido brings over 20 years of marketing, sales, management, and operations expertise to his role as CEO of full-service digital marketing company Zeta Interactive. Formerly Epsilon Interactive's CEO, DiGuido also served as CEO of Bigfoot Interactive, CEO of Expression Engines, EVP at Ziff Davis, and publisher of Computer Shopper, where he launched ComputerShopper.com, a groundbreaking direct-to-consumer e-commerce engine. Prior to Ziff Davis, he was VP/advertising director for Sports Inc. DiGuido also serves on the Direct Marketing Association's Ethics Policy Committee.

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