October 24, 2006

E-Mail, Catalog and Online Strategy

Over the past two days, I spoke about catalog/online strategy and e-mail strategy.

Our current business climate is at a unique inflection point. The fragmentation of the advertising industry is leading retailers away from less-accountable media, into catalog. The dominance of the online channel is driving direct marketers away from catalog, toward online marketing. Google eagerly welcomes all marketers to its version of marketing nirvana. And then there is e-mail.

The 1to1 blog talked about e-mail marketing on Tuesday. The article talks about targeting, personalization and pizzazz as being keys to driving a successful e-mail campaign. Nowhere does the article address the importance of merchandise. Merchandise is the real reason an e-mail campaign works, or doesn't work. All of the targeting, personalization and pizzazz cannot make up for the fact that either the customer wants to purchase what you have to offer, or does not want to purchase what you have to offer.

Because e-mail is close to free, we sometimes fail to apply the rigor we should when considering how to market via e-mail. The 1to1 article mentions that the average open rate for an e-mail campaign is twenty-seven percent. Stated differently, three out of four e-mail recipients discard your e-mail before even considering the contents.

The "relationship" aspect of e-mail CRM is completely missing. I don't have the answers to this problem. But, given my e-mail productivity discussion from yesterday, when getting one customer in a thousand to purchase something yields a profitable outcome, there won't be the kind of merchandising innovation needed in e-mail to make e-mail campaigns more productive.

Simply put, it is too easy to make money with e-mail to invest the real energy required to make real money with e-mail.

What are your thoughts?

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