“There didn't seem to be an organization that addressed an end-to-end view of what an in-box owner is and what he or she sees,” Beck said. “[There are] organizations out there that address specific issues, but none is comprehensive setting standards, distributing best practices, outlining new strategies and identifying new technologies.”
Beck and Mullen introduced EEC to do all that and more, including providing a networking forum and getting teams of industry experts together to solve specific issues. Later this month, the organization will launch 10 international chapters, in, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the U.K.
BtoB spoke to Beck and Mullen about why marketers need the EEC, what they can get out of it and how they can get involved.
BtoB: Who is the typical EEC member?
Beck: We have three different constituency groups: subscribers, members and sponsors. Subscribers are marketers who come and subscribe to our communications—newsletters, best practices, surveys. This is a free service, and we have about 5,000 people in this group. Members are the people who participate rather than just receiving information. It's a cross section of companies—Cisco, IBM, American Express, Unilever. They belong to roundtables we have. We give them big problems to solve and, once they do, we release a white paper on it. The last group is sponsors, which are clients or agencies that support our work.
BtoB: What kinds of problems are you looking to solve?
Mullen: One recent roundtable looked at how people are tracking and reporting metrics—specifically, bounces. E-mail doesn't have any established standards outside of very minimal guidelines. A great example: DoubleClick puts average click-through rates at about 40%, but our b-to-b subscribers don't see rates anywhere near that. By working through standards and guidelines, we will help people compare metrics and problems on an apples-to-apples basis.
BtoB: Is there one lesson with which marketers can start?
Mullen: On the b-to-b side, people are creating programs on a campaign-by-campaign basis. It's all one-off, and you may have five different people creating five different e-mail messages, all of which touch your customers. Without cohesiveness, you're not providing a unified feeling of brand or capitalizing on the lifetime value of that brand. This is one of the things we're hoping to help solve.
Beck: Another thing we'd like people to talk about is deliverability and rendering. It's not new or sexy, but it's an important fact that when messages are not showing up properly they can be damaging the brand. Our deliverability roundtable is addressing this, and a full report will released in early December.
Really, the challenge for everyone in the e-mail world is putting themselves in the mind of the person receiving their e-mail. We want people to realize that e-mail marketing is everyone's job.