It's time to invest in e-mail marketing communications

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It's time to invest in skills, processes and technologies to boost e-mail marketing communications. A February Forrester Research report stated that 77% of retailers see e-mail becoming a more important marketing vehicle over the next year, outranking other marketing tactics. Pair that with well-publicized facts about e-mail-fatigued consumers, dropping e-mail response rates and increasing opt-out rates, and it's clear that marketing organizations must improve the relevance of their e-mail programs.

Corporate e-mail marketing managers, concerned about opt-outs, unsubscribes and long-term engagement, use multi-layer targeting, segmentation and event triggers to increase relevance. Unfortunately, they also run into challenges, including the availability of timely, high-quality data; the knowledge needed to convert data into actionable information and the operational know-how to automate their data-driven processes.
Sound familiar? This mimics the issues that drove direct mail marketers in the 1990s to invest in skills, processes and technologies around database marketing, relationship marketing and CRM.

For online marketers, though, the similarities stop there. Why? Due to the perceived low cost of e-mail, online marketers struggle to justify the investment in database development, analytic skills and tools, and campaign management technologies — all of which help to effectively target and automate e-mail communications — and come at a cost.

Analytics data mart
A “data sandbox” to explore data, profile subscribers, analyze behavior and identify key data pieces that can be leveraged to increase e-mail program success. Analytics team People who can develop or validate business hypotheses and predict results must play in this sandbox.

Marketing database
This database offers a simplified data structure, which incorporates only the data required to define, execute, manage and measure current e-mail programs.

Campaign management and automation tools

These define, automate and execute campaigns. These vary dramatically in cost and scope and can be achieved in different ways, either with an e-mail service provider or with a multichannel database marketing service provider. Marketing software can help interpret your customer data, support data slicing and dicing, enable segmentation and targeting, and generally manage, automate and measure your programs. Proceeding depends on various factors. But if you don't proceed, you can't improve the relevance of your e-mail programs.

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