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Email Marketing: Shortchanged by Resource-to-ROI Imbalance (Part 1)

by Loren McDonald  |  
April 24, 2007

Blog banter and industry experts paint a picture that the toughest email-marketing challenge is something terribly complicated, like inbox deliverability or rendering. The truth? A well-informed marketer, designer, or programmer could solve either of those issues, and most others, between a morning bagel and a lunch-break burger.

Here's the real issue. Most companies are uninformed about email-marketing best practices and suffer from a lack of in-house, expert resources. Very few companies recognize this, however, because even poorly done email still tends to perform fairly well. No harm, no foul, right?

Wrong. On a flight to a recent email marketing conference, I sat next to a woman who runs email marketing programs for a multibillion-dollar consumer products company renowned for its marketing prowess.

For a long time, she had shouldered responsibility for both Web site content and email marketing—until she finally convinced management that each area demanded dedicated staff. Coming from a direct-marketing background, she opted to manage email marketing.

This otherwise savvy marketer knew surprisingly little about some of today's widely published email-marketing best practices—things like how to improve deliverability, how to design emails that render properly, optimum frequency strategies, and how to optimize opt-in pages.

Even her company, which is known for championing marketing and executing brilliant TV campaigns, did not allocate the right amount of resources to the high-ROI email channel. The company could not count on a core group of email gurus knowledgeable and skilled enough to implement commonly accepted best practices.

Such "resource-to-ROI imbalance," as I like to call it, affects the bottom line and brand perception in ways we can no longer afford to ignore.

Why It Pays to Care About the Resource-to-ROI Imbalance

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Loren McDonald is vice-president of industry relations at Silverpop, an email service provider for B2C marketing initiatives and B2B lead-management processes. Reach him via

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