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.


  1. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Hi Kevin -

    First let me come clean and say that I believe in the centralized model.

    That said, I've seen far too many centralized groups that believe their job is to manage and control as opposed to increase marketing efficiency, productivity, and performance. This is what creates the chasm between the central groups and business folks who just want to do something a little different.

    As a diehard rulebreaker (who also believes in process but not for process sake), the job of the central team at the outset is to be an enabler for the business. If you can't prove to the business that you can do the job faster, cheaper, better then the central group won't get respect and splinter groups are innevitable.

    Over time (and with the right leadership and skills bench), the centralized group is in a good position to help its business constituents improve targeting and overall campaign performance. As you well know, having all of that data in one place and a team of people who know how to analyze it can make a tremendous difference to campaign performance.

  2. Thank you for contributing, Elana!


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