The Magnificent U.K. Seven: Part 5

  |  April 24, 2001   |  Comments

Look before you leap -- especially if what you're leaping is a big, big pond and you're not quite sure what's on the other side. The founder of one of the U.K.'s leading digital marketing agencies is here to help ensure a soft landing.

If you've been following this series, you know that we've been getting do's and don'ts for U.S. companies looking to launch an email marketing campaign in the U.K.

Who's been dispensing the tips and tactics? I call them the Magnificent U.K. Seven. So far we've heard from four of them: John Cornett, account manager at Xpedite; Duncan Parry, directory editor for Lycos U.K.; Antony Dyson, sales and marketing manager for Metis Training & Development Ltd.; and Jeffrey Baumgartner, AKA Dr. Ecommerce.

Now it's time to get the lowdown from Rob Walk, who heads up DP&A Digital, which he founded in 1999 as the digital division of ten-year-old DP&A, one of the U.K's leading independent direct marketing agencies. DP&A Digital designs, develops, and manages marketing campaigns making use of the Web, email, interactive TV, and mobile phones. DP&A Digital also participates in the design and development of third-generation mobile phones.

Pitfalls Along the Email-Campaign Trail

I asked Rob what sorts of problems he has encountered while implementing email campaigns for U.S.-based distributors. "We are working with several blue-chip organizations," he said, "and through this have been exposed to the different requirements for U.S.- and U.K.-based campaigns simply because our blue-chip clients utilized U.S.-based email distributors. At the time, there were limited U.K. email distributors." He added, "The U.K. distributor market has greatly changed since then as have the data-protection laws."

According to Rob, these are the main problem areas:

  1. Time difference. This is an issue especially with the support and supplying of data to U.S. distributors.

  2. New data-protection laws in the U.K. and Europe. These laws mean that data should not be sent outside the E.U. unless it is to a country that has strong data-protection laws. Unfortunately, the U.S. doesn't fall into this category.

  3. Different infrastructures in the U.K. and U.S. A large proportion of email users use offline email browsers and are not hooked up to the Net when they read their email. Hence, many who receive an HTML email requiring images to be downloaded from the Net will not see those images. A couple of U.K. distributors provide "bag and tag" functionality, which means that emails are sent with the images embedded in them.

  4. Platform compatibility. Interactive TV in the U.K. is getting bigger; emails that are going to use this platform must be formatted for TV and must include different fulfillment instructions since HTML format and even hyperlinking don't work on most of the current platforms.

Special Considerations for Small Businesses

So can DP&A Digital launch an email marketing campaign for a small business? "We can launch email campaigns for U.S.-based businesses but haven't as yet. Expect that this will become a greater requirement in the coming year. Naturally, cost becomes an issue," Rob said.

What about supplying targeted opt-in lists? "We don't provide targeted opt-in lists, though there are increasing resources that provide U.K.-specific lists," he stated.

If Rob's firm doesn't supply opt-in lists, just how does his firm work with clients? Rob explained: "Essentially we coordinate the campaigns and ensure that the email is aimed and purposed correctly for the target audience and that the distributor utilized is the right one for the job. We also structure the email and the links and supporting information to ensure the data we get out of the email is effective in showing us the user's behavior patterns and motivations."

To wrap up this series, we'll talk in two weeks to a former PR manager who's now a red-blooded U.K. entrepreneur and hear from a writer who specializes in copywriting and Web site content.

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Laurel Delaney

Laurel Delaney runs Global TradeSource Ltd., a Chicago-based global marketing, consulting, and Web-content-provider company aimed at entrepreneurs and small businesses. She is the author of "Start and Run a Profitable Exporting Business" and teaches an M.B.A. export entrepreneurship course at Loyola University Chicago. In addition, she serves as Director of International Development for Inc., a global funding community that facilitates education and interaction between entrepreneurs and investors.

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