November 21, 2007

Theoretical Catalog Circulation And E-Mail Question

Catalog circulation is a beautiful blend of art and science.

When you send a catalog that costs $0.80, you must generate a suitable return on investment. In other words, short-term plus long-term profit must exceed this huge cost threshold, or you cannot afford to mail the catalog. Out of necessity, the catalog circulation manager must be scientific, must be rigorous, must focus on every tiny detail.

E-Mail marketers never had to deal with this challenge, given that the discipline, on a variable cost basis, is close to free. The cost structure encourages vastly different behavior. The e-mail marketer can be much less rigorous, and yet be far more successful than the catalog circulation expert.

Take the example of an e-mail opt-in subscriber who failed to interact with any of the past forty weekly e-mail campaigns your company chose to send to this customer.

E-mail marketers, please make a case for whether this customer should or should not receive next week's e-mail campaign (which has essentially no variable cost associated with it), given that the customer chose to ignore the past forty campaigns, and that the customer gave you no inclination that the customer does not want to see future campaigns.


  1. Anonymous6:57 PM

    If a customer on your list has not responded (which I define as opened, clicked or bought), but has not bounced, from your last 40 emails then you might want to consider it a dormant email address. I believe ISPs call the practice of continually mailing to dormant addresses as "dipping into the honey pot", which may affect your overall program's deliverability. Although the dollar cost is negligible, the risk is potentially severe. Just as a circ manager has their merge/purge house run hygiene on their lists, so should a good email marketer cleanse their list. If you choose to not remove them from your list, then at least reduce the amount of touches. A good reactivation campaign (by ECOA and/or postal mail) is a good way to revive that email customer.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Allow me to re-write this better!

    So describe what this severe risk is for my readers?

    There is a school of thought that since the person hasn't opted-out, and because there is essentially no variable cost to e-mail, some would say there isn't any harm. Actually, that's what most marketers do.

    I'm not saying any strategy is right or wrong, I'm just looking to provide my readers with a good discussion about different marketing strategies.

  4. There is a rumour (B2C) that Hotmail&Co are checking out the interaction of the recipient with the email. If no interaction is seen (open/click), Hotmail&Co assume that you're sending out unsollicited email. There's absolute no confirmation on this rumour though.


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