E-Mail Should Be Part of Overall Mix, Panel Says

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NEW YORK -- E-mail marketing should be an integral part of a marketer's overall strategy, and it should be targeted and relevant. That was the message from a panel of experts at the fifth annual @d:Tech New York conference yesterday.


With many marketers concerned about highly targeting their messages, it is more important than ever that customer data be up to date and comprehensive, the panelists said.


"The establishment of a long-term relationship is incredibly important," said Al DiGuido, CEO of Bigfoot Interactive, a e-mail marketing firm. "The new focus is on being more selective as to how you reach your customers. But a lot of marketers don't have a clear understanding of what they're trying to do."


Consumers want relevant, personalized marketing, and customer data should be collected at every opportunity to accommodate them, he said.


"Understand your customer and deliver to them the information they need," he said. "Use every customer touch point to gather information about the customer and create a profile."


The panelists also noted that measuring return on investment no longer is about click-through rates but about conversion to sales. While direct mail response rates run between 1 percent and 2 percent, they said e-mail click-through responses can run from 5 percent to 15 percent. They did note, however, a recent study reporting that while 20 percent of respondents said they immediately click through a link in an e-mail message to a Web site, 39 percent said they did not click through and 41 percent said they click through at a later date.


"You want to measure conversions, not clicks," said Court Cunningham, vice president and general manager of DoubleClick Inc.'s DARTmail Technology Solutions division. "More than 40 percent of people don't respond directly to an e-mail, they go to the Web site or the store."


Cunningham also noted that this means it's important for marketers to analyze purchasing patterns across multiple channels.


"E-mail works for customer retention marketing," he said. "For maintaining relationships, e-mail is two times more effective than banners and 11 times more effective than magazines and television combined."


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