Donnelly Group’s Mallin sounds off on e-mail acquisition

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InfoUSA’s e-mail subsidiary Yesmail last week announced the launch of a new full-service e-mail acquisition unit called Yesmail Acquisition Services.

The new unit will offer clients customized e-mail acquisition programs that include Internet co-registration, e-mail list rental, online banners and e-mail append tactics.

A handful of employees from Walter Karl Interactive, another infoUSA subsidiary, were transferred to Yesmail to run the new direct response division.

Ed Mallin, president of the Donnelly Group, which oversees both Walter Karl and Yesmail, spoke with BtoB about what the changes mean.

BtoB: What was the advantage of launching the acquisition unit under the Yesmail flag?

Mallin: Walter Karl Interactive had both the acquisition, or what we call the “brokerage,” side of the business, and the list management side of the e-mail business.

We decided to move the acquisition team to Yesmail in order to bring together acquisition and retention under our e-mail brand. Every customer we do retention e-mail marketing for at Yesmail also needs e-mail acquisition services. From a sales strategy and an integration standpoint, it seemed like a better fit. If you look at our couple of hundred clients doing retention [e-mail marketing] with us, part of their strategy is acquiring and bringing in new customers. An integrated sales force with expertise in both areas made the most sense.

BtoB: What are some challenges facing b-to-b marketers that would like to do an e-mail acquisition campaign?

Mallin: I think [one challenge] is finding the right data that perform— finding the names, finding the right price points.

On the b-to-b side, there’s less information available than on the consumer side. The biggest challenge is having available content for straight-up acquisition. I think there are still too few names on the b-to-b e-mail side. There isn’t enough buyer information. B-to-b catalog [names] are not on the market [for example].

You need the opportunity to have Web sites available for lead generation, those that generate enough traffic to do co-registration. There are fewer than 100 sites available for lead generation [in b-to-b] versus 1,000 or more on the consumer side.

BtoB: What do you suggest for b-to-b marketers that are doing e-mail retention campaigns but would like to begin an acquisition program?

Mallin: They have to have a budget and a commitment to it. It’s not “put your toe in the water and jump out.” It’s about consistency and committing to a program every month. Making a commitment to acquisition, testing different offers, being willing to test and failing [are all necessary] to ultimately succeed.

It’s not that different from what people do on the direct mail side of the business.

There are more tools out there now to understand success on the e-mail side. You need to analyze results through Web analytics. It’s about making a commitment, establishing a budget, doing a variety of testing and building a program on a monthly basis. That will get you the ROI.

The danger [in not committing for the long term] is that you end up wasting money. You need to use it as a learning platform. The wonderful thing about e-mail is you can learn fairly cost-effectively.

You’re seeing more and more people realize they have to have an e-mail strategy that’s consistent.

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