Selling successful e-mail campaigns

No doubt, e-mail and other electronic forms of communication are now more common than a telephone conversation. I recently spoke to an executive who said he rarely checks his voicemail anymore, because people send him an IM first to see if he’s available to chat. More often than not, we prefer to receive details about our lives, from banking to portfolio to purchase information, over e-mail.

E-mail marketing solutions, however, have been falling short of their potential. In a lot of cases, those marketing campaigns don’t even make it past the spam filter and never reach their intended audience. Just because an e-mail is well-crafted and articulate doesn’t mean it’s not going to end up sitting on top of a delivery engine, with a 40 per cent deliverability rate.

So there’s an increasing demand for trackable e-mail campaigns – and that’s affecting the channel. After all, the leading indicator of a successful campaign is whether your message actually got into the customer’s inbox. Form there, the value lies in feedback on effectiveness and metrics on click-throughs.

Arrow ECS has just made an announcement that plays off this market opportunity. The distie has teamed up with StrongMail, a provider of on-premise solutions for marketing and transactional e-mail on the IBM xSeries platform.

The core of the solution is an e-mail delivery server, which gets the e-mail into the inbox and allows the sender to measure what happened to it – was it opened, or was it forwarded? If the e-mail bounced, it categorizes what happened. (StrongMail has a relationship with more than 600 ISPs worldwide, and has technology that allows those ISPs to distinguish whether or not an e-mail is coming from a StrongMail-based infrastructure.)

It also includes an integration server and user interface specifically targeted at marketing managers – who are always looking for ways to better target their end-user customers, to sell, to up-sell, to cross-sell. And this applies across the board – it doesn’t really matter what vertical they’re in.

This is where we’re seeing a merging of opportunity. The heritage of many resellers, even those with a vertical bias, is the typical IT infrastructure play. When it comes to e-mail marketing, most organizations have either built their own infrastructure or turned to an outsourcer. Building one takes time and resources and expertise; outsourcing can be expensive (charging on a per e-mail basis), and it also means giving up some control.

But this latest offering from Arrow represents a situation where the IT infrastructure has to work hand-in-hand with the requirements of line-of business managers. So resellers will likely be targeting those line-of-business managers, rather than knocking on the IT manager’s door.

Many times when you talk to vendors with new solutions, they want resellers to create a market for them – and it’s hard for resellers to live up to those expectations. In this case, the market already exists – resellers just have to identify it and then start selling.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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