Karipides: Understanding customer, keeping data current key to e-mail success

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Applied Information Group, a database and e-mail marketing company, announced Wednesday that Larry Karipides has been named director of new business development. He was previously VP-interactive media at American List Counsel. Karipides was hired to rev up AIG’s interactive media initiatives and take the company into new markets. He spoke with BtoB about leveraging the power of e-mail marketing to retain and cross-sell customers, the need to establish a dialogue with clients and the best way to deploy e-mail.

BtoB: What is the best way for direct mail marketers to leverage e-mail in their campaigns?

Karipides: You need to have your hands in both. You need direct mail campaigns to drive traffic. Once that’s done, how do you communicate with customers? Ask them for their information, their e-mail, and once you do you can start building a picture of that customer in the database. You want customers to walk through your door and you want to keep them there. What are you going to do to keep them there?

Rent lists, build site traffic, get eyeballs to your site. Ask them, “What else can we do for you?” The more you ask, the more you can build databases.

Then you have all these data segments and you can target them through direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing.

It has to be cost-effective. There is no set practice [for] which you first do direct mail or e-mail. Do a little bit of both. Testing is key.

BtoB: How are companies using the power of e-mail marketing?

Karipides: They are using it for retention. There’s a bucket of gold there. You are constantly acquiring additional data points. The key is to be able to target and segment those data points through e-mail. It’s an incremental revenue stream.

[For example,] customer X spent $1,000 with you this year. What do we know about customer X? How can we understand them better? How can we get a better picture of them? Then you can derive additional revenue from them. Modeling and analyzing are key to being able to up-sell and cross-sell those customers.

BtoB: What can marketers do to improve e-mail marketing programs?

Karipides: They definitely need to look at the data. Keeping the database up to date … is key. You have the postal database and the e-mail database. If you have e-mail names attached to the postal records, you can begin to develop a strategy when it comes to e-mail.

Talk to your clients. They might need to pull back on frequency. A lot of marketers try to get customers to come in (by using registration forms that have) pre-checked boxes and negative options (pre-checked registration boxes that indicate users will receive marketing messages unless they un-check a box).

I advise against a negative option. I’ve worked with clients who want to build their database, and the best way to do that is with a negative option. But what does that do? What are those names worth?

The reason I came here is the company has gone back to the one-to-one relationship with the client. We’re asking the client what they need instead of telling them what we have.

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