Today, integrating e-mail across channels has become the No. 1 priority for many marketers, and they are wrestling with how best to carry off an integrated marketing strategy.
On the convergence of search and e-mail, for example, Brian Ellefritz, senior manager-global direct marketing at Cisco Systems, said that putting search and e-mail together can be effective, but it still entails a learning curve.
“We're trying to revisit [our customers'] buying processes and figure out which channels are being used at which point in the process,” he said.
Integrating such media as search, direct mail and e-mail can potentially captivate a customer's or prospect's attention and move them along in a buying cycle, which could then result in a sale.
Wacom Technology Corp. extended its e-mail campaign with a blog element. In its “PowerofthePens.com” campaign, created by eROI, an e-mail marketing agency, it incorporates e-mail with a robust social community, which included a blog.
“This is a brand new concept for our company,” said Diane Moore, marketing manager at Wacom. “Not only do they love our products and want to buy our products, but they want to talk to each other.” Moore said the campaign was so successful that the company more than doubled its revenue.
Rosanne Saccone, CMO of BEA Systems, said in a recent podcast on marketing to IT buyers that tailoring messages that line up across channels is a must. In fact, she said it is where she is “placing a pretty big bet.” E-mail marketing and events are the two main areas of marketing focus for BEA this year, she said.
“[It is] highly targeted, almost one-to-one marketing, looking at the behavior within our prospects or within the people we target—what are they looking at on our Web site, what kinds of events are they attending—and then sending to them the kind of content we think is pretty well focused on their area of interest,” Saccone said.
She said it is easy to “blast out lots of content to lots of different audiences all the time” because it is so inexpensive, but she advocates focusing on just a couple of strategies instead.
“What I tell my team is, "What are the couple things that really get above the noise level that matter where we can put a lot of energy, and focus, and creativity and sophistication around that one or two or three key bets?' “ Saccone said. “Find the audience that matters most to you, and "get it right' with that audience and then expand as you start to see the fruits and the return on investment from that. I'm not a big believer in the big bang approach.”
Spencer Kollas, director, delivery services for Strongmail Systems, agreed that a targeted approach is ideal, and said many companies are taking the e-mail marketing platform more seriously.
“E-mail has been the stepchild of the marketing industry, and now when you look at it, it has the highest ROI [among media channels] and it is the one mechanism that can be personalized and timely,” Kollas said. “The relevancy of e-mail is so important. Marketers are no longer doing "batch and blast.' “
Barry Abel, VP-field operations for Message Systems said less is more.
“Sending more mail to more people does not translate to better revenue,” he said. “Most marketers' charter is to build relationships, so tools that address bounces and list hygiene and doing analysis on quality vs. quantity in e-mailing that capitalizes on demographic information are all going to be important.”
The biggest challenge to incorporating e-mail into the multichannel marketing strategy is that, typically, customer databases are siloed. Usually, the larger the organization, the harder it will be to integrate customer information.
Cisco faces that challenge. “We are a big company, and we're a complex marketing organization,” Ellefritz said. “We've got legacies [legacy databases] like you wouldn't believe.”
He said it is difficult to combine data from e-mail, search and other media channels with, for example, behavioral data.
This channel integration also requires a change that extends companywide and involves breaking down departmental silos to allow people from different parts of the company to work together, said Andy Goldman, senior partner-senior director, North America, e-mail and digital dialogue services at OgilvyOne Worldwide.
Jim Champlin, director of e-mail at Allstate Insurance Co., said integration is becoming a requirement because customers expect marketers to understand their preferences and communicate accordingly.
“I don't want to send mail to anyone who doesn't want it or won't respond to it,” he said. “The way to do that effectively is to give customers rich preference capabilities” so they can tell you through which channels they prefer to receive your messages and how often.
Determining preference management can only be accomplished by analyzing those multiple marketing channels.
Ellefritz said in addition to preference management, the media channel he communicates through can also vary depending on the kind of product he is promoting or the community of people he is trying to reach. For example, he said, “If we have a strong, mature list [of customers], we'll use e-mail. If it's a new product or service, we'll rely on search.”
Enterprise marketing management systems offered by companies—such as Aprimo; Eloqua Corp.; Vtrenz, a division of Silverpop; and smaller companies such as Bronto Software—are becoming more popular as the demand for sophisticated cross-channel campaigns and measurement and analysis of those campaigns on the back end grows. The EMM systems provide the technology backbone to tie marketing efforts together into one central system.
“It's a timeless challenge,” said Joe Colopy, CEO of Bronto Software. “You have these different systems that do different things. It's a lot of work to get multiple systems to talk to each other.”
In the end, it all has to gel.
“Measurement metrics must connect to the big picture of consumer behavior,” said Aaron Kahlow, managing partner of BusinessOnLine.
“If we don't have these things aligned with a consistent message, you miss [the] boat of reaching these customers,” he added. M