Centralization starts by combining industry best practices with input from the various departments to set some companywide policies. For example, set an e-mail frequency standard to place a limit on the total number of e-mails a customer can get. Next, categorize the types of e-mail going out—for example, newsletters, relationship messages, promotional campaigns and transactional (service-based) e-mail. This allows you to set standards covering which e-mails take precedence and how frequently any promotional or relationship campaign should go out. Typically, transactional e-mails should always maintain the most critical position on your list, followed by newsletters, relationship messages and, finally, promotional campaigns.
Centralization and categorization also allow you to set conditional rules, so you don’t send the wrong message at the wrong time. If customers are receiving transactional e-mails related to a service ticket, they shouldn’t receive any promotional e-mails, which would show a lack of concern about their current situation and could permanently damage the relationship. This level of personalization is especially important in b-to-b e-mail marketing because many departments—support, sales, account management, etc.—can be involved in resolving an issue.
Whatever policies you finally set up, ensuring they are followed is the next big challenge. Attempting to manage this in an ad hoc way may be doomed to fail. Instead, centralize all customer e-mail on a single technology platform capable of categorization and managing frequency automatically.
Tricia Robinson-Pridemore is VP-market and product strategy for StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.