Merkle Buys E-Mail Marketing Agency Quris

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Database marketing firm Merkle said yesterday that it has acquired Quris Inc., a full-service e-mail marketing agency. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Denver-based Quris was majority-owned by The Charles Schwab Corp. The acquisition follows Merkle's purchase of Seattle-based nonprofit marketing agency The Domain Group in October.

The announcement follows a trend that has become increasingly common over the past year in the database marketing space: database marketing firms buying e-mail marketing and digital marketing firms. In September, Epsilon acquired Bigfoot Interactive and Acxiom Corp. bought Digital Impact in May.

"Marketers want more from database marketing outsourcers than just data management and processing these days, and e-mail expertise is high on many firms' wish list," said Eric Schmitt, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "Given that, it's no surprise that Merkle is investing in e-mail services. The only question was whether they were going to buy or build."

The real challenge for database marketing services companies that have bought e-mail vendors is integration, Schmitt said.

"Most clients don't just want 'a side of e-mail' bolted onto their contracts," he said. "They want e-mail services integrated with their existing customer data management, data processing and operations services. Many will pay a premium for front-end analytical services that can address questions like how to use e-mail to improve program response rates, and decrease direct mail budgets."

Founded in 1999, Quris has developed, designed and delivered comprehensive e-mail marketing solutions that help companies create long-term personal relationships with their customers. Clients include Blockbuster, Charles Schwab & Co., Dex Media, Vail Resorts and Wynn Las Vegas. Based in Denver with offices in Dallas and San Francisco, Quris will continue to serve its clients from its current locations as a wholly owned subsidiary of Merkle.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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