BTB E-Mail Lists Mirror Postal Ones, Town Hall Participants Say

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STAMFORD, CT -- Business-to-business e-mail lists and e-mail prospecting are becoming more like their postal counterparts, said panelists at an e-commerce town hall here yesterday at the third annual MeritDirect Business Mailers Co-op and E-Mail Marketing Conference.

"The most positive development over the past 6-12 months has been the merging of e-mail and direct mail as one list category," said panelist Ruth Stevens, president of e-Marketing Strategy, New York, and a DM News columnist.

Mailers need to focus on how to reach the right customer regardless of the medium, Stevens said, adding that has been pleased to see postal and e-mail files side by side on list broker recommendations to mailers.

The panelist were in agreement that e-mail is an evolving channel.

The industry will see more targeted and branded e-mail lists entering the market soon, said panelist Rob Sanchez, vice president of interactive services at MeritDirect. BTB e-mail lists are generally better than many of the consumer files on the market because of the availability of RFM data, he said. For that reason, the prices on the BTB e-mail lists hold better.

Some key questions Sanchez suggested asking about e-mail files before testing them include: what other offers the people of the file are getting and how often they get third-party e-mails. Even if a mailer's postal file is high quality, it doesn't guarantee that its e-mail counterpart is.

Other panelists shared anecdotes about what has surprised them in the e-mail arena.

"Text works," said Torry Burdick, director of marketing at Element K Journals, Rochester, NY.

Despite opinions that HTML is a must, she said text is effective but the most important thing is recipient preference.

Another surprise to Burdick was that long e-mails work for her company.

Other participants included Josh Mailman of M4Internet and Fred Meyers of The Queensboro Shirt Co.

Meyers predicted that eventually all mailers would put their e-mail lists on the market similarly to what happened with postal files many years ago and urged the attendees to do so soon so that the true potential of e-mail prospecting could be realized.

DM News editor Ken Magill moderated the discussion.

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