Advertisers Turn to Specialists to Handle E-Mail Marketing Campaigns

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (NYT) -- Among Internet companies struggling to retain customers they have worked so hard to get, e-mail marketing is seen as the next best thing to being on the home page each time a customer goes online.

For openers, e-mail is a relatively inexpensive marketing tool, ranging from a penny to a quarter per message, compared to $1 to $2 per piece for direct-mail campaigns in the actual world. Moreover, e- mail provides immediate results, no small factor in an industry where speed is critical.

Best of all, the results of an e-mail campaign can be measured, right down to the number of people who opened the message, clicked on each link, made a purchase or forwarded the e-mail to a friend -- that is, assuming the sender has the technology to track all of this data.

And therein lies the catch. Conducting an effective e-mail campaign is a lot more complicated than opening a new message in an e-mail program, copying a list of customer names, typing an offer and clicking the "send" button. In fact, those who manage e-mail marketing efforts say the challenges range from basic privacy issues, like getting permission to send e-mail to customers, to technical hurdles in composing, sending and tracking large volumes of mail. Not surprisingly, an industry has emerged to help marketers manage their e-mail strategy, from companies that function as application service providers, housing the infrastructure to deliver and track e-mail campaigns, to those that license or sell software to run e-mail campaigns. According to Forrester Research, the market for these types of services will reach $4.8 billion a year by 2004, up from $156 million in 1999. …