D&B uses Flash e-mail to promote data product

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Starting in September 2003, D&B, the risk management product and services company formerly known as Dun & Bradstreet, began distributing a Flash e-mail to help demonstrate and promote its Enterprise Risk Assessment Manager tool.

ERAM is a credit portfolio management tool that combines customer, third-party and proprietary D&B data, allowing users to make decisions about which accounts to earmark for review and collection. D&B promotes the tool as an aid to manage cash flow and risk exposure while increasing revenue and improving overall corporate governance.

The Guild Group, an ad agency in New York, created the Flash demo for D&B salespeople to e-mail to clients and prospects as a way to introduce and reinforce ERAM’s advantages. In addition to the 30-minute Flash animation, the piece contains voice-over narration.

The first section of the demo explores the challenges of making wise business credit decisions, as well as the drawbacks of faulty judgments. Much of the remaining portion of the animation is a tour of various screens and settings, and how each of the program’s applications fulfills a particular credit-related financial management goal. The demo ends with a call to action, including a toll-free number that the recipient can call for more information.

When a recipient opens the e-mail, the demo launches automatically in a separate window.

Salespeople called potential clients to introduce ERAM and then e-mailed the demo to them, said David Brooks, VP of new-media services at the Guild Group. Salespeople then followed up with another call to discuss the product and the demo with clients.

Guild worked with D&B to create a piece that could be used with or without a salesperson and could be broken up into modules so each could run in a stand-alone segment should the sender choose to view them that way.

Guild Group reported that one key benefit of the e-mail demo is that it helps D&B salespeople get appointments with potential clients. D&B said the rich-media e-mail program’s return on investment is already more than 200%.

The Guild Group’s Brooks looked at the now 4-month-old, ongoing program from the lessons-learned standpoint: "Do use rich e-mail to sell," he said. "Do use simple navigation and design to simplify large products. Do modularize large products so different segmented messages can be sent."

Though he says he is an ardent believer in b-to-b rich e-mail, Brooks does not view the technique as a magic wand for sales.

"Don’t treat the demo as a stand-alone piece in planning communications; rather, plan for how it weaves into a larger campaign so that [the rich-media e-mail] only has to do one or two things well," he said.

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