November 05, 2007

Centralized E-Mail Marketing

From time to time, we read about the importance of having a centralized e-mail marketing program, one where the message is controlled by a centralized group. Some theorize that the customer benefits from a coordinated corporate effort.

This type of organizational structure can work. The leader of the centralized team must provide a myriad of "rule breaking" opportunities for others, must allow innovation.

I once observed an environment where a splinter group ran their own e-mail campaigns for various business leaders, outside of the centralized program --- they had full support of executive leadership, they had their own set of selection criteria, their own opt-in and opt-out guidelines, their own creative templates. The performance metrics of their campaigns were not fed into the centralized data repository.

In a centralized environment, this communicates a strong message --- a significant minority of individuals do not respect the centralized environment.

See, catalog marketing is hard. As a result, you seldom saw splinter groups executing catalog marketing campaigns without CEO support.

E-Mail marketing delivery is comparatively easy. A rogue store manager with an e-mail list of 175 recipients can deliver a targeted message from her Microsoft Outlook software tool.

The challenge is to figure out how to work with individuals with diverse needs and personalities, creating a flexible system that benefits internal customers as well as external customers. We focus too much energy on the latter, we need to focus more energy on the former.