Relevancy More Important Than Ever, E-mail Vets Warn

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NEW YORK -- Leaders in the e-mail marketing industry warned that one of the largest threats to e-mail marketing is irrelevant messages.

Speaking yesterday on a Direct Marketing Club of New York panel moderated by industry veteran Reggie Brady, Bigfoot Interactive CEO Al DiGuido said inbox clutter from spam meant that the bar for e-mail marketers has been raised.

"If you're not relevant to your customer, you are a spammer," DiGuido said.

DiGuido pointed out that AOL blocks 3 billion e-mail messages a day, not all of which come from peddlers of cheap mortgages and herbal Viagra.

"The biggest issue around e-mail marketing is relevancy," he said.

Roy Cumming, general manager of, the online arm of Publisher's Clearing House, echoed DiGuido's thoughts. Cumming said used segmentation in its sweepstakes offers to stay relevant. For example, for a sports audience, it might give away a trip to the Super Bowl. He stressed that the low cost of e-mail could be a double-edged sword, since it lulls some marketers into a cannon-shot mindset.

"Don't just send because you can," he said. "You need to learn how to segment and target your e-mail."

Likewise, Michelle Rutkowski, marketing director at, said she constantly tested different e-mails. For its monthly newsletter, it sends different versions to subscribers and non-subscribers, with an eye on converting non-subscribers.

"However people want their content is our approach," she said.

DiGuido advised that too often marketers do not use the breadth of information they have to tailor their e-mail campaigns, with the result of sending offers that only alienate consumers.

"Use all that information about a consumer to build a better dialogue," he said.

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