LISTSERV (R) at Work - Spring 2003 IssueL-Soft
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Do I Need a CRM Solution for E-Mail Marketing Campaigns?

The short answer is a resounding "No." CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a concept that has become well known over the last five years. The term CRM is rather vague but can best be described as, "comprising of the methodologies, software, and Internet capabilities that help a company manage customer relationships in an efficient and organized manner." The downside of CRM solutions is not in principle, but in what they actually deliver for the price.

Without question, one of the most important elements of a customer relationship platform is e-mail marketing. However, this is where CRM solution providers fall short. According to the Aberdeen Group, companies that have invested in costly CRM solutions are disappointed with CRM's lack of functionality in this area1. Aberdeen suggests that companies are now turning to true e-mail marketing technology suppliers to provide the mission-critical solutions that CRM vendors cannot offer. In addition, these companies are finding that e-mail marketing vendors can accomplish the customer relations objectives for a fraction of the cost CRM providers charge.

When investing in technology, always choose products and services from companies that have demonstrated solid expertise and years of experience in a specific field.

Taking Action

Now that you have a solid foundation of knowledge for what will be needed to achieve your e-mail marketing objectives, it is now time to begin capitalizing on this innovative opportunity to drive sales, build company and brand awareness and build quality long-lasting relationships with customers.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Research Providers

Web sites, white papers and industry analysts, such as Forrester Research, Aberdeen Group and Gartner Group are the best places to start your search. Search engines should point you to the multitude of online product evaluators that have undoubtedly covered all the vendors you would be interested in. You may also want to check with trade organizations, such as the DMA, to make sure that the company you do business with is favorably recognized within the industry.

2. Investigate Possible Integration and Other Resource Problems

If you have heavily invested in a customer database, eliminate any vendor from your list of candidates that cannot properly integrate its solution with your database. Also, make sure that you have the proper bandwidth, hardware and personnel in place to orchestrate a sizable e-mail marketing campaign. If not, perhaps an outsourced alternative is an appropriate solution.

3. Have a Plan to Acquire Subscribers

Building an opt-in e-mail list is a challenge. Consumers are constantly bombarded with e-mail offers in their inboxes. Outline a plan to acquire subscribers that involves creating value and tailoring messages based on your customers' demographics, online history and preferences. Clearly define your privacy policy for recipients to gain their trust. Word of mouth is important in the online community, and news travels fast. Provide subscribers with quality offers, and they will pass along your messages to friends and colleagues.

4. Explore the Opportunities

E-mail is a fantastic medium for marketing your products and services. E-mail is universally popular, reaches decision makers and is technologically advanced. Apply your marketing experience and expertise to the technology, and you will enjoy the results. It is that easy. If you are having trouble getting started, check out marketing trade magazines such as DM News and various American Marketing Association publications to read success stories and find ideas. The possibilities are nearly limitless, so trust your marketing skills and let the technology do its job.

1 Email Marketing: The Last Mile of CRM? (Aberdeen Group, Inc.), 1,2.

This chapter was taken from the L-Soft white paper titled "Successful E-Mail Marketing Practices." A complete copy of the white paper is available in PDF format.

Copyright 2003 L-Soft