Merging Acquisition and Retention E-Mail

Has the line between acquisition and retention email marketing disappeared? A continued increase in spam, wide use of rented email lists, and an epidemic of companies over-mailing consumers have changed email reader behavior to a point where recipients may not notice the difference between an acquisition and a retention email.

E-mail marketing has evolved. It can no longer be broken out by siloed tactics for rented and in-house lists. Retention-based mailers can no longer ignore the email media buys taking place within their organizations. The offers these buys include, the branding they portray, and the type of response they illicit are key. A comprehensive strategy for speaking to the customer using email must be designed.

There are five critical facts that led to my decision.

List Type Isn’t As Important

Based on a recent JupiterResearch report, 89 percent of people who receive an email will look to the subject or the product’s or service’s specific name to determine if they’ll open the email.

Why it’s important: This means most email recipients don’t initially look to see who a message is from before they look to the brand and offer. Readers will most likely not realize the fifth email they received this month featuring your product was really from a list vendor, not the newsletter they opted in for.

Companies Send Multiple E-Mail Messages

Most companies send more than one type of email communication (the average Fortune 500 company executes 35-plus marketing email messages per year). Very few of these companies develop a fully integrated delivery cadence, making the possibility of scattered messaging a reality.

Why it’s important: The average email recipient can never be sure whether a message he received is something he asked for, an added value, or a cross-sell attempt from a different group. A recent communication analysis for one client found in a 60-day period, it sent 64 email messages to one person. Over 60 percent of them came from third-party list rentals. From the company’s initial analysis, communications to house lists stayed within those guidelines and sent him only the type of messages he asked for. In the customer’s mind, he was bombarded with message from the company, some of which he deemed irrelevant.

E-Mail Marketing Usage Continues to Grow

According to a “CMO” magazine report in April 2005, 70 percent of U.S. marketing executives planned for email marketing in 2005.

Why it’s important: This is a clear reminder that email continues to be relied on as a cost-effective, responsive channel. Ignoring the reality of the number and type of messages your customers receive from your organization (and your competitors) is no longer acceptable. Understanding exactly which third-party newsletter contest is being sponsored by your company, which third-party lists are frequently being rented by your organization, how the volume of these two elements impacts your retention-based messages, and messaging timing is key.

E-Mail Generates Revenue

JupiterResearch finds targeted email marketing campaigns can generate nine times more revenue than broadcast mailings.

Why it’s important: Knowing facts like this makes an even more compelling argument to understanding how every email message your customer receives will affect response rate. Could your organization be missing out on revenues it deserves?

E-Mail Content Is Shared Frequently

A recently released Sharpe Partners report indicates 89 percent of Internet users share content via email on a frequent basis. Seventy-five percent of these people send the content to more than one associate. Of the shared content, 56 percent is news related and 24 percent business and personal finance related.

Why it’s important: This means messaging often contained in newsletter sponsorships and third-party lists is frequently shared with others, showing the effect of the message and content over the delivery vehicle. Third-party email content can have a significant impact on results and brand.

What does all of this really mean in terms of responsiveness, customer loyalty, and attrition? I’m not suggesting house list messaging or opt-in efforts managed by an organization are less effective, or that third-party lists will drive the same level of response rate as an in-house list. What I am suggesting is that, in recipients’ eyes, any message they receive that contains your company’s logo, offer, or content will be perceived as part of the messaging stream they have opted in for.

It’s too early to make any definitive statements about the impact this has, but it’s time that we, as responsible email marketers, embrace this merger of media types and leverage it to drive stronger relationships.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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