ORB Enlists CheetahMail

New York-based opt-in e-mail marketer CheetahMail inked a technology deal with fellow Silicon Alley-based online ad/marketing agency ORB, Inc., the companies announced Thursday.

As a result, CheetahMail will handle ORB’s back-end e-mail capabilities. ORB previously handled its own e-mail distribution and technology.

“We’re engaging an industrial-strength e-mail technology provider so that we can do much larger, significant electronic CRM programs for our clients,” said ORB executive vice president and co-founder Laura Berland.

“Joining our unique technology with ORBs clear, direct ROI focus is a natural marriage,” said CheetahMail chief executive officer Irene Pedraza. “We are excited at the prospect of helping bring ORBs high level of real-time marketing analysis and optimization to the e-mail sector. Our industry leading e-mail marketing technology will allow ORBs clients to expand their marketing initiatives in this highly effective medium.”

ORB’s client e-mail client roster includes Citigroup and ad tracking firm Leading Web Advertisers.

The move comes as many integrated online ad and marketing companies face questions about the value of Internet advertising, and strike deals to broaden their online direct marketing offering. Online ad technology giant DoubleClick last week acquired e-mail marketer NetCreations, and CMGI ad and marketing company Engage today announced a partnership with yesmail.com.

The industry is also seeing a renewed interest in non-advertising-based marketing efforts, thanks to several recent promising earnings announcements by online direct and promotional marketers — who seem to be weathering the harsh market somewhat better than their advertising-only brethren. NetCreations announced that it expected to turn a profit third quarter, and Internet promotional firm Promotions.com said it expected to beat Street revenue estimates.

Berland, however, demurred from pointing to inclement industry-wide conditions as a reason for the deal.

“Our focus has always been on ROI-driven online marketing programs, and increasingly, as we build database strategy for clients, there are just more and more e-mail tactics that make up the overall strategy,” she said.

“We do advertising on the front-end, build the databases to get the opt-in lists together, and we just find that running these CRM programs on the back-end gives tremendous power to their marketing agenda,” she added. “Our strategies are integrated across e-mail and advertising channels. They work very much hand-in-hand, and the e-mail CRM programs behind the initial advertising really provide the kicker for delivering our clients an ROI.”

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed in detail.

“It’s a relationship where we both have the chance to share in e-mail revenue opportunities,” Berland said.

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