Constant Contact: Death of Email Marketing Greatly Exaggerated

Several months ago Constant Contact, an email marketer, became aware that much of its customer base was intrigued by the daily deal model. However, it also noticed that once those companies actually tried out the model, their enthusiasm for it diminished considerably.

“Daily deals just don’t work for a lot of companies, especially small businesses,” Dave Gilbertson, vice president and general manager of SaveLocal, Constant Contact’s latest product, told CRM Buyer.

“The customers that offerings like Groupon attract are looking for bargains and are unlikely to become repeat buyers,” he said.

What small businesses want is more customers like the ones they already have.

That got Constant Contact thinking: Why not build a product that allows small businesses to market a daily deal to their existing customer base? Thus it developed SaveLocal, which it tried out in beta for several months until just releasing it generally.

The application guides users into developing their own offers for existing customers. A typical example might be an offer for the customer to buy a deal, share it, and receive a US$50 discount, Gilbertson said. “It encourages the best kind of growth for a small local business — word of mouth.”

Not Your Father’s Email Marketer

Constant Contact’s development of SaveLocal is more than just a story about a vendor recognizing a customer pain point and then delivering a service in response. Rather, this approach to market has become the modus operandi for the entire email marketing space.

“A few years ago, everyone thought email was dead,” Dave Scott, CEO of Marketfish, told CRM Buyer. “Social just arrived on the scene and people wondered why they would ever send an email again if they could just tweet or message you on Facebook.”

Clearly they were wrong, he added. “Email is thriving today because everyone understands that it is one of the best one-to-one communication mediums in the world.”

Indeed, top vendors such as Constant Contact, Silverpop, Vertical Response and LiveIntent, to name a few, now offer some kind of integration to social media and to mobile as well.

Typical of these offerings is Silverpop’s Publish-to-Social tool, which allows marketers to push campaigns and information from email newsletters to Facebook and LinkedIn.

Increasingly, though, email marketers are branching out even farther with programs like Contact Contact’s initiative to add daily deal functionality. Constant Contact provides another example as well: It has its eye on loyalty card technology, having acquired CardStar at the beginning of the year.

QR codes are increasingly being added to the mix.

When a retail client wanted to use its email marketing database to expand, Vertis “added QR Codes to direct mail, inserts and in-store signage,” Jeanne Bayers, email services strategist, told CRM Buyer.

“Once scanned, the customers landed on an opt-in page for a loyalty program that the client was interested in growing,” she said. “The customer saw a 52 percent completion rate and has decided to continue using QR Codes to help build their database.”

The Cross-Channel Customer

In a way, it is natural that email is the channel through which these more advanced forms of digital marketing are integrated, Len Shneyder, product marketing manager of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management, told CRM Buyer.

“Email is the foundation of any marketer’s digital communication program,” he said. It “provides a rich source of content to be shared into social networks, as consumers are checking email on mobile devices and making purchases on those same devices from offers received in email.”

At the same time, consumer behavior is increasingly more “cross-channel” in nature, he added. “It’s not uncommon for a consumer to receive an email on their phone, come home, grab their tablet for a richer experience, and make a purchase in a mobile app.”

This kind of behavior means that email has to be more flexible, Shneyder concluded. “Email has to be optimized for a number of devices, platforms and browsers. It has to work just as well on an iPhone as an Outlook email client.”

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

Related Stories

CRM Buyer Channels