CRM vendors flock to high-capacity online promotional capabilities.
Posted Nov 10, 2004
Email marketing, never far from the minds of promoters looking to reach a large audience at minimal cost, has been thrust even deeper into the spotlight this month, especially this week: In the span of less than 24 hours three different CRM vendors announced plans to offer expanded email capabilities to their customers.
NetSuite has directly bundled a Mass Email Marketing component into its front- and back-office on-demand application, supporting customized campaign templates from records in the NetSuite system and integrated statistics tracking. RightNow simultaneously announced two email partnerships, with Quris and Aaronson Group, to provide email marketing campaign design and fulfillment. Last, Onyx unveiled Email Accelerator, a launcher for large-scale email campaigns including personalization and results tracking directly within the Onyx CRM database.
"On the one side we all know that spam is bad for you, but we know that email marketing is so inexpensive and so powerful that we can't not use it," says Denis Pombriant, principal analyst at Beagle Research. The rush to stake a claim in the email marketing space may also signal renewed interest in providing customer acquisition, although email marketing is often most effectively used for opt-in retention messaging.
"I think it's interesting to see that the vendors are coming out with products or tools that explicitly talk about how they're enabling mass-email marketing, but also enabling responsible use of the tools," Pombriant says. This conscientiousness is double-edged. For instance, NetSuite says it will enforce unsubscribe requests automatically on behalf of recipients, but the software also helps mailers avoid being trapped by mail filters.
Not all CRM vendors have embraced high-capacity online communication as a necessary component of their functionality. Salesforce.com announced at its annual user conference last week that it was modestly expanding the soft daily limit on promotional mailings to 250 recipients. Although not substantially less than the free allocation given by NetSuite (its customers are granted 120,000 free emails a year, or roughly 330 free emails per day), Salesforce.com clearly prefers for the time being that its users not use the on-demand data centers as high-volume email servers. That also wards off potential abuse from unscrupulous users. Pombriant believes that ultimately, the ethics of email marketing will be enforced at a higher level than the software vendor. "Let's face it, if you don't do it right, you get a lot of bounce-backs, and [regulators] are not going to like that."
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