CheetahMail's Event Mailer Fights Abandonment

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CheetahMail Inc. launched a real-time, event-triggered e-mail service to address issues like the abandonment of shopping carts.


Called Event Mailer, the service is part of a suite of messaging tools to extend touch points throughout the customer life cycle.


"Our research has shown 20 percent click-through rates when we send a triggered e-mail to those who abandoned their shopping carts," said Ashley Johnston, director of marketing at CheetahMail, New York. "This is compared with an average 6 percent to 7 percent click-through rate."


Companies using Event Mailer can send an e-mail to browsing customers who abandon their carts, encouraging them to complete the transaction. E-mails, triggered by cookies placed on customers' computers, are sent only to customers for whom the company has an e-mail address.


Event Mailer also works for companies with no control over their order confirmation messages. Though many companies have canned messages, few have the ability to track. Even then, the responses are text-based. Event Mailer allows for the dispatch of HTML and multipart messages that can be tracked for segmentation and analysis.


CheetahMail said the service has reporting capabilities to offer insight into subscriber behavior via tracking of response and open rates, click-throughs and transactions.


Event Mailer will be promoted as a standalone product as well as an extra service to existing customers. Its working is simple. A lightweight application program interface is tied to CheetahMail's Event Mailer system to allow such one-off mailing. The setup of content resembles that of CheetahMail's standard application.


CheetahMail claims any company with an e-commerce Web site can benefit from the technology. The company would not mention names but said business-to-business firms, retailers and financial services companies are Event Mailer users. Financial firms can use the service to send a rate quote or targeted product message.


CheetahMail clients include CompUSA.com, Dollar Rent a Car, Sony Ericsson, The Discovery Channel, Bloomingdale's, JCPenney, Starbucks.com, InStyle.com and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.


Though CheetahMail is not the only company with such an event-triggered offering, many of those on the market are software-based. Furthermore, those that are application service providers, or hosted software on the Web, "are triggered only by time, not activity," Johnston said.


But such event-based e-mail triggers carry a danger. Too much use of these messages to win back customers may be construed as rewarding bad behavior.


Johnston said online dialogue marketing is in its infancy in terms of proven methodologies. But the main objective and challenge is still content, and having access to behavior-specific reports is important. The other bigger challenge is incentive, she admitted.


"Incenting customers can be extremely addictive," Johnston said. "Most marketers found that out when they ran free-shipping promotions. If a company continually offers free shipping or a discount on merchandise, then customers will pick up on this trend and only buy products when the promotion is running. Incenting customers less often reduces the risk of your customers relying on these promotions in order to shop."


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