Monday, May 31, 2010

Send and Pray

The ongoing crisis has obviously changed some behaviors and habits of the people and businesses in this part of Europe. Companies have almost ubiquitously cut costs, cut budgets and cut headcount. As usual, one of the first budgets to be cut was marketing budget, but of course, it was not completely canceled. Every company needs sales and marketing, and some sort of sales-generating activities has to be done. Since money is a scarce resource these days, marketing departments have turned to the cheaper methods of promotion and advertising, one of them being the notorious e-mail marketing.

I'm not talking here about spam, I'm talking about those nicely crafted e-mails sent to you by existing businesses offering you great product at fantastic price. And, don't get me wrong, I don't complain about practice of using e-mail as a marketing channel, I'm using it also! And it's good to be proactive in the time of crisis. But, unfortunately, the vast majority of those mails are very un-sophisticated.

First of all, it seems to me that majority of Croatian companies never heard of the concept of "opting-out" or "opting-in". Not only that in many cases I was put on someone's newsletter list, although I never gave my e-mail address, but sometime I don't even have option to unsubscribe, or if I have it it's made very inconvenient. For example, my favorite is mailing list from one company that asks me to send them back blank mail if I want to unsubscribe (BTW: it never worked)!

Secondly, very few of them have been personalized. It seems to me that Croatian companies are not even able to learn my name, although it's easily recognizable from my mail-address. And not only that, the content of mail is obviously the same for all the recipients, although majority of their offering usually doesn't interest me. And some staff that really interests me are buried somewhere inside their clunky mail.

And finally, I'm not completely sure about this, but based on my technical insight and feedbacks from the market, it seems that very few of them are using any kind of Marketing Service Provider, or that they track results of their e-mail campaigns in any effective way. For example, important questions like "What is click-through rate of our mails", "what is read rate?" or "how many mails are forwarded?" evidently stay unanswered for many of well-meaning initiators of mailing campaigns.

And its pity, because measuring e-mail marketing results doesn't need to be expensive or time-consuming. It can be easy as using some type of web analytics engine and smartly designing your mail, or more sophisticated like using functionalities of your CRM solution (and you have one, don't you?)

Unfortunately, without way of measuring success (or failure) of e-mail marketing campaigns, most of those mailing efforts will be like sending to whoever you can, and praying that someone will respond to your mail someday.