An exciting time for one-to-one marketing to shine

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Marketers today face great challenges in generating results, what with ever-shrinking budgets, rising expenses and limited resources. But it's also an exciting time for targeted, direct marketing to really shine.

For years, a marketer's only option consisted of launching a campaign with print communication, blanketing an entire recipient list and depleting a large portion of a campaign's budget. But times have changed, due to electronic media. A recent InfoTrends survey found that 79.6% of marketers use e-mail for direct marketing, followed by the Web and direct mail.

Also, the DMA states that commercial e-mail's ROI for this year will hit $49.65 per dollar spent, so the future of direct marketing is clear. E-mail is appealing for a number of reasons. It's cost-effective, environmentally friendly and, when used strategically, increases the overall effectiveness of one-to-one marketing. Using e-mail for the first and second campaign waves, then following up in print with those who didn't respond initially reduces costs while reaching an entire targeted audience. It allows response channels, incorporated through Web-based response URLs, to gather relevant recipient information. So when a marketer invests in a printed piece, it can be effectively targeted to become of greater value to the recipient.

The immediacy of e-mail also allows for quick response to customer actions. A customer who visits a personalized Web site and updates their individual information would appreciate a prompt confirmation. What's better than making this e-mail personalized, with more targeted offers and information?

E-mail marketing's popularity grows because companies can give consumers options in receiving communication. Marketers can no longer confine recipients to a strict scheme. Marketers must become media-agnostic, supporting every possible communication mix to maximize effectiveness.

Implementation tools also play a role in effective e-mail marketing. A unified, variable-data, cross-media software platform provides everything needed to complete a one-to-one campaign spanning e-mail, Web and print, although this solution should feature a robust e-mail delivery system, allowing messages to break through spam filters while fully complying with e-mail regulations. It should also have a marketing analytics dashboard to track, analyze and adjust every aspect of a live campaign “on-the-fly” for maximum effectiveness and ROI.

The technology behind e-mail marketing has come very far in a brief time and, it appears, we will continue to see it evolve.

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