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Break Through the E-Mail Clutter

January 11, 2001

Retention-based email marketing is built upon forging a qualified and relevant relationship with your customer base in order to remarket your products and services. In its purest and simplest terms, this is accomplished by delivering the right message to the right person, at the right time. My company, New Canoe, and I preach this to our clients, salespeople preach it to me and marketing managers preach it to each other. The concept is simple, however many marketers are missing the mark and cluttering their customers' in-boxes with messages irrelevant to their profiles.

Jupiter predicts commercial email will grow from 3 billion messages sent in 1999 to 268 billion in 2005. Retention email alone is expected to reach 236 billion messages by 2005. If you are in the email marketing profession like me, these predictions can appear encouraging, as well as frightening. Encouraging because the predictions reveal that online advertising is and will continue to be a major marketing focus. Frightening because of the sheer volume of advertisements being delivered to your customers. As a result, you will have to place more emphasis on retention tactics to ensure that your customers will be receptive to the offers. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) techniques and tools exist to increase campaign effectiveness and help your message reach your customer. As an added bonus, the guidelines are basic in concept and execution.

Email marketing tools have retention capabilities that most offline marketing techniques lack. Email marketing is not an exact science; however constant campaign refinement enables you to test numerous offers, content and formats to determine the proper message for each individual. The testing functionality, layered with personalization, affords you a competitive edge. Instead of delivering one message to all your customers, deliver dynamic personalized messages to each of them. My advice is to take advantage of this opportunity. Remember, retention marketing is grounded in nurturing and expanding upon the relationships you have with your customers.

Keeping in tune with the simplistic nature of this argument, think of retention email marketing as a cyclical process that, when done properly, improves itself each time it launches. The process should be administered as follows:

1. Analyze user profiles

2. Segment the user database

3. Construct and continually modify campaign test matrix

4. Launch campaign

5. Capture data

6. Update profiles

7. Repeat steps 1 through 6.

Integrating back-end analytics with a campaign management tool can optimize these steps. Back-end analytics enable you to dissect and understand the likes, dislikes and overall mindset of the user. Providing an illustration of the user allows you to deliver offers and information applicable to the user's profile. Furthermore, analytics enable you to predict what sort of information and offers the user will be interested in. Mining and segmenting this information is invaluable for constructing a campaign with purpose.

Once the data has been analyzed and arranged, a campaign management tool should be utilized to design the test matrix and launch the campaign. Implementing a test matrix establishes the rules of the campaign for each user segment, thus delivering an applicable message based on each user's profile. Once the campaign is delivered and the results have been analyzed, you will be presented with findings to determine the proper optimization tactics for the next email campaign.

With the email clutter increasing in the virtual world, it's imperative for marketers to build relationships with their customers in a relevant and personalized manner. Incorporating the techniques and tools mentioned in this article will solidify and optimize these relationships. The concept, when harnessed and executed properly, is rewarding.

As the Director of Email Marketing for New Canoe, Michael Morrone is responsible for the development, execution and optimization of all direct email campaigns. Prior to New Canoe, Mr. Morrone served as the promotions manager for MSN Sidewalk, San Francisco.

Michael Morrone, Director of Email Marketing, New Canoe


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