Forrester: E-mail Vendors Increasingly Sophisticated

It’s no longer that difficult to get an e-mail campaign delivered on time,
so e-mail vendors are beginning to distinguish themselves through advanced
features, according to a report released this week by Forrester Research.

The researchers who conducted the study, which was put together by
interviewing 18 e-mail technology vendors, concluded that e-mail marketing
is growing up, ironically because marketers told them they can’t
differentiate between e-mail service providers. No longer are e-mail
companies judged by basic services like getting a campaign out on time.
Instead, they’re differentiating themselves by offering more advanced
data-oriented features, responding to marketers’ desires to go beyond
“batch-and-blast” e-mailing.

The features that e-mail companies are developing are oriented toward
allowing marketers to create one-to-one personalized campaigns, which
involve dynamic content delivery based on user profiles. While all of the
companies Forrester surveyed supported these capabilities to some extent,
the researchers cited DoubleClick , Bigfoot Interactive
and Yesmail as being furthest along with their tools, having begun to
automate the complex exchange of data and content that such messaging
requires.

Forrester especially thought it important for e-mail companies to be able to
support the automatic delivery of sequences of messages based on consumer
actions. Hewlett Packard, in a campaign it conducted through Digital Impact
, uses purchase data to tailor a sequence of messages to
customers based on the life cycle of the product they bought.

Other tools that Forrester sees as being important to the future of e-mail
include:


  • Applications that allow marketers to merge their e-mail programs with
    behavioral and self-reported data gathered on a Web site.
  • Technology
    that links e-mail and offline direct marketing.
  • Infrastructure that supports the bi-directional exchange of user profile
    data and relevant content.

Besides the development of advanced features, e-mail vendors will begin
to distinguish themselves by packaging their services to respond to needs
within particular business sectors. Bigfoot, for one, has been developing
and introducing “vertical market solutions,” which are tailored to the needs
of customers in various industries, including automotive, entertainment,
financial services, and health care. In the financial services and health
care industries, especially, companies’ needs are likely to be extremely
specialized, given the regulatory constraints under which these industries
operate.

The Forrester researchers chose DoubleClick, EchoMail, and Bigfoot
Interactive as leaders in the industry. DoubleClick’s strengths, they wrote,
lie in its ability to offer a wide array of marketing services. EchoMail was
cited for strong creative services and unique technical offerings; and
Bigfoot Interactive impressed with its platform, its data integration
capabilities, and its partnership with modeling firm PreVision.

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