Q&A: Kristin Hambelton, VP of marketing at Neolane

Kristin Hambelton, VP of marketing at Neolane, a marketing technology company, discusses email spending growth rates and the dangers of over-mailing.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): Email spending is set to increase over the coming years. Why has it become such a vital channel for marketers?

Kristin Hambelton (Neolane): It’s increasing but not as much as other channels. If you look at it compared to other channels, projected spend is much slower. Social and mobile spend surpassed email spend in 2011. Email is viewed as inexpensive and organizations are comfortable with it, but you’ll see marketers use it in a smarter way in the future.

DMN: Email volume continues to increase. How detrimental will this be to the industry?

Hambelton: Depends on who you’re talking to. Part of this is organizational behavior. The email group might support brand managers who say, ‘Send more, send more because when you send more you make more money’. But with better segmentation tools, you realize that’s actually not true because if you over-send you miss opportunities for targeting and segmentation. We’re going to start to see more sophisticated organizations figure that out.

DMN: Other than over-mailing, what should marketers avoid on email?

Hambelton: I think the biggest one strategically is not making emails relevant and not looking at it as part of the overall customer experience. Don’t market to the channel and not to the customers. Customers won’t put up with that. That’s the biggest sin.

DMN: What customer data points should marketers focus on when planning email campaigns?

Hambelton: It’s going to vary by brand, of course. But in terms of what to look for you’ve got to look at consumers as a whole. Is email the right channel for them? If they don’t want to be communicated with via email, why are you emailing them? Keep in mind whether or not they have a frequency preference. Take into account demographics, how much they spend, how often they spend, and what the objectives are of this particular email campaign.

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