Changes Focus to CRM, Retention Services

Share this article:, long known mainly as a business-to-consumer e-mail list manager and broker, is attempting to reposition itself as a CRM/customer-retention services firm.

Executives said yesterday that the Chicago-based company carved out a new division called CRM and strategic services in March and staffed it with about 25 employees not counting sales reps. The division comprises "mainly direct marketers and database marketers with experience in continuity programs and publishing," vice president Michele Frost said. A press tour in New York City yesterday was's first effort to publicly reposition the firm.

The division plans to go up against Digital Impact, San Mateo, CA, and other firms known for e-mail campaign management services. However, as is always the case when marketing lists are involved, Digital Impact and other competitors will remain customers of

"We've seen them get into the acquisition space, and we're getting into the retention space," said David Menzel, president/CEO of CMGI's

According to at least one expert, the move to so-called CRM and retention services is also an attempt to compensate for a soft business-to-consumer e-mail list rental market.

"B-to-B is still a juggernaut, but in consumer e-mail marketing CPMs have dropped, and the availability has grown," said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president at Internet marketing services firm Worldata/WebConnect, Boca Raton, FL. "Yesmail, which is not unlike many of the permission networks, has seen a decrease in list rental volume, especially on the consumer side. They've taken a look at their business, and they have tremendous e-mail transmission capabilities. And to leverage that, they're going to do CRM applications."

Customer acquisition services will remain a staple of's offerings, Menzel said.

"A lot of factors have made the e-mail acquisition space tough," Menzel said, citing the dot-com implosion and accompanying economic downturn. However, he said, "we're not abandoning acquisition by any stretch. I think it's long-term viable."'s strengths in the retention marketplace will be its inhouse data-management capabilities, its experience in e-mail marketing and that it's a one-stop shop, Menzel said.

"With yesmail, the data is all sitting in one place, allowing for quick data uploading, quick de-duping and quick reporting," he said. "We're direct marketers and database marketers, and we've always had that mentality."

Menzel claimed has an e-mail database of 25 million names, 16 million under the so-called yesmail network and 9 million under management from other companies.

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