*This blog post was written in collaboration with Shar VanBoskirk
Over the last year, we’ve seen a number of new acquisitions in the email marketing space. Specifically:
European cross-channel campaign management vendor Selligent and Silicon Valley email service provider Strongview were acquired and combined by Private Equity Firm HGGC
Marlin Equity Partners acquired Teradata’s Digital Marketing Center -- the part of Teradata which includes former eCircle, Ozone Online for agency services, and Argyle Social -- and mid-market ESP BlueHornet, which was previously part of Digital River
Vista Equity Partners picked up B2B marketing automation vendor Marketo
And most recently Zeta Interactive added Acxiom Impact to the eBay Enterprise assets (the old eDialog, for those of you keeping track) it acquired last year
The standard pricing model for email marketing — the CPM — may soon change. Industry consolidation, commoditization, and growing data volumes threaten the standard. Buyers may soon confront models that range from a platform license (all-you-can-email) to total utilization (data + messaging) to seat-based models. In November, I will publish research into the rationale for model changes, evaluate different candidate models, and explore the repercussions of the change.
I need your help. Price changes will have dramatic and difficult to predict effects on customer experience, marketing practices, the vendor landscape, and even the structure of the marketing organization. For example, an all-you-can-email model may, paradoxically, reduce email volumes in the long run, if it removes barriers to adoption of cross-channel programs.
This potential shift from channel-specific to cross-channel is one of the more interesting consequences of a model change. I’d like your reactions include:
What is the best pricing model given the challenges you face (performance, cross-channel, real-time, mobility, etc.)?
Who in your organization might be affected by the change?
How do you anticipate the purchase process (RFP, selection, negotiation, contract review) might change as a result of a model change?
If you faced no pricing limits on email, how would your strategy and operations change?
If vendors moved to a platform model — e.g., including other modules such as web recommendations, push notifications, or behavioral targeting with email — how would your strategy and operations change?
Email marketing is at an important crossroads because email is losing its appeal for consumers. Research shows that younger people in particular feel email is too formal. Forrester’s European Technographics® surveys show that consumers’ attitudes toward email marketing have only grown more critical over time. In 2007, 24% of European Internet users agreed that email was a good way to learn about new products, but only 12% agreed in 2010. And 54% of European online consumers state that they delete most promotional emails without reading them.
Are consumers deleting your promotional emails as well? Are you wondering what content and updates your customers value? You should just ask them! Surveys, social media, and offline anecdotes will give you insight into what email content, offers, and even style your users like. For instance, the BBC's GoodFood magazine asked its Facebook fans, "What theme would you like to see in today's newsletter?" and used the results to craft its email content.
ExactTarget filed an S-1 last Wednesday, November 23, the first step towards an initial public offering (IPO) by the end of March, 2012.1 The company grew substantially over the past several years and is tracking a 55% growth rate in 2011. ExactTarget now services about 4,600 direct clients and reports $148 million in revenue through September 30, 2011. Congratulations to Scott Dorsey and his team for guiding the company to this point.
How will ExactTarget's IPO benefit CI Pros? The IPO can:
Provide additional capital for research and development. The funds ExactTarget will raise through the IPO will help transform the company from an email service provider (ESP) into a full-fledged marketing technology platform. Increased R&D will allow the company to evolve through organic development and acquisitions. Both moves will help it to fill out its cross-channel campaign management and Customer Intelligence offerings. CI Professionals at mid-to-large enterprises should expect to see the company move more aggressively to offer enhanced enterprise marketing capabilities.
Enhance attractiveness to partners. ExactTarget's IMH has yet to catch on with heavy hitters in analytics, offline channel management, and marketing resource or operations management.2 The quarterly and annual disclosure requirements on ExactTarget could help clarify the company's plans to potential partners and assuage concerns about future competition. Stronger partnerships will lead to additional IMH applications for CI Pros.
By now, you've all heard about Epsilon's April 1 data breach — an unauthorized party accessed a subset of Epsilon's email clients' data. My colleague Dave Frankland outlines the circumstances of the incident and its implications on Customer Intelligence and data security in his blog post immediately following the incident.
I attended Epsilon's Customer Symposium in Naples, Fla., last week, and I wanted to pipe in with some commentary based on what was addressed directly by Epsilon at the event.
Marketers: The way I would look at this is "if a data breach can happen to Epsilon — a firm which specializes in data and data management — it can definitely happen to me." We learned from Bryan Sartin, director of investigative services, Verizon Business Security Solutions, and Mick Walsh, supervisor, Miami Electronic Crime Task Force, US Secret Service, that electronic crime is a huge and growing business, due in part to the ease of access to consumer information online and the ease of access to the data black market through online search engines. Three-quarters of cases of electronic crimes executed through malware come from data disclosed through Facebook.
I spoke last week at Interact 2011, a Responsys-sponsored event attended by about 600 of its current clients and prospects. The theme of this year's event was "The New School of Marketing," a framework Responsys has developed to help marketers better connect with empowered consumers. The fundamental principles of New School Marketing are that it is: permission-based, automated, cross-channel, and focused on engagement. See what Responsys thinks will change from current approaches to those that are part of New School Marketing:
I found the event to be extremely well produced (not just because it featured a fantastic performance by the iconic Cyndi Lauper -- see photos below) and full of some great marketer stories which I'd like to share in my next several posts.
Marketers must follow the FTC’s CAN-SPAM guidelines as they apply to transactional messages; however, transactional emails are frequently embedded with promotional content. We’ve found that retailers can, on average, generate an additional $2.9 million annually by including promotions in their transactional communications. When content gets mixed in together, we often hear clients asking: where is the line drawn between promotional and transactional messages?
While there is no silver bullet for determining the difference between each message type, there are some guidelines that can help you determine whether or not the message will be subject to the CAN-SPAM Act. The FTC places a great deal of weight on the subject line of a message, so if the subject line would lead the recipient to think it’s a transactional message, it’s a transactional message for CAN-SPAM purposes. Additionally, the content of the message matters. If the majority of the message is commercial, or the bulk of the transactional part of the message doesn’t appear at the beginning of the message, CAN-SPAM considers the message a commercial one.
Regardless of message type, there are a few best practices to keep in mind to comply with CAN-SPAM (and maintain a good sender reputation).
First of all, let me welcome you to Forrester's new blogging platform. Hopefully you'll find this blogging environment an easy way to access our blog-worthy ideas and community comments
Next, I wanted to officially announce (drum roll please) that I am back leading Forrester's email marketing research. Some of you may know that I did a lot of work in email marketing until 2007 when Julie Katz took the helm, joined subsequently by David Daniels following Forrester's acquisition of Jupiter. I'm excited to be back in the space and already have a stream of research underway.
First up is a piece on how the recession has affected consumer attitudes toward email marketing.
Then next quarter look for three pieces:
*One on the integration of email and social media
*Another updating our email marketing review methodology. See here for the older version.
*And then the third doing a best and worst of email marketing. This piece is also an update of some similar research we did here a few years ago.
What email marketing research would you like to see from us? I'd love to include your ideas in my research plan.