Good Email Marketing Shouldn't Cost More

Brian DeaganElana Anderson from the ClickZ Network had an article today titled, A Good E-mail Marketing Program Costs Money. Well intended, well thought out, but at the end of the day it's completely and entirely off the mark. She's talking about symptoms instead of dealing with the real problems that interactive marketers face. Her answer to those problems is simply that marketers need to spend more. My answer is that marketers should expect more. Then again, how much innovation can you really expect from a bunch of big fat database marketing companies that scooped up all the ESPs?

Why good email costs more…supposedly

The thrust of why good email costs more, so the article goes, is because of data. You need to have an analytic data mart, you need to have an analytics team, you need to have a marketing database. Right, I don’t disagree. However, it’s not necessarily the cost of these things, but how marketers go about implementing them. Everything is separate, it’s scattered all over the place. And it’s a pain. I was chatting with a friend at a web analytics firm. They have a great product recommendation capability. The client wants it. Unfortunately, the client’s Email Service Provider wants $50,000.00 for the integration. Get out the check book.

The real problem

Ask interactive marketers (with a bit of a technical bent) to design the ideal operational infrastructure for interactive marketing. It’s a safe bet that they would not design the fragmented platforms, integration, and processes that are found in over 99% of the companies that do online marketing today.

I’m painting with a fairly broad brush here, but whether it’s poor site personalization, or crappy email, it’s this fragmentation that’s driving the inefficiencies and undo cost. That’s the problem. And we shouldn’t expect marketers to perpetuate it by asking them to spend more. We should fix it. So they can get good email for the same price or less.

Email the author with your comments, or post one below.


  1. Posted September 11, 2008 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi there –
    Your commentary is nice, but unrealistic. I work with a lot of large companies, very large companies. What do you suggest? Implode all of the operational systems and start from scratch? It’s simply unrealistic… The fact is that information about customers comes from many systems across many channels. Your comments are fine, but you’re talking about this issue on a totally different level that doesn’t recognize the complexity of business reality. You’re right, fragmentation is crappy, but it’s a fact of business life for anything but a greenfields startup…

  2. Posted September 21, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Brian –
    I find myself agreeing with your assessment that good email programs should not be unreasonably costly, but Elana has a point that complete infrastructure overhauls are unrealistic. I have implemented both large (100 million+ individuals with 2 billion+ transactions) and small scale marketing databases and in ALL cases, data integration (more accurately ETL) is the key to successful systems and resulting campaigns. I believe that in too many cases vendors scare clients into implementing huge database systems (that they claim will fix their pre-existing problems) rather than spending the requisite time interpreting and implementing ETL processes that will ensure the target system (large / small / discrete or integrated) is working with clean, consistent, accurate data. Analysis, modeling, campaign management, segmentation, etc. are all impacted by the data in the database and are only as useful as the the foundation of information they start with.

  3. Posted October 13, 2008 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Brian has posted a follow up to these comments:

    Bryce has some additional tips on this concept here:

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