|E-mail marketing still strong despite social media buzz
Social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter are providing businesses with new ways to market their products to existing and future customers.
But as businesses rush to 'friend' and 'tweet' their way into consumers' hearts, is e-mail marketing being trumped by social media?
Industry experts say no and contend that e-mail adoption and use remains strong with businesses and consumers alike.
"E-mail is still the central hub for how people want information to be pushed to them," said Karen Talavera, digital marketing expert and president of Synchronicity Marketing in Lake Worth.
According to Forrester Research, 90 percent of online Americans currently use e-mail as a mainstream communication channel. By 2014, it forecasts there will be 153 million active e-mail users nationwide, up from 145 million in 2009.
"It's very simple to use and cost effective," said Jude Diaz of Wealthwise Technologies, a Plantation investment advisory firm that has been using Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact's e-mail marketing service. "You see a lot of nice results with minimal efforts."
In November, Gregory Drew, owner of Boca Powerhouse gym, sent a free seven-day promotional workout offer to 4,134 women in the Boca Raton area. He used a geographically targeted e-mail marketing platform from local company CityTwist.
The e-mail campaign cost him about $250, but his return on investment was $10,400 in revenue — the value of 26 new memberships.
"It's worked better than any other form of marketing I've used," Drew said. "I've had 10 times the results."
By 2014, consumers are forecast to receive an average of more than 9,000 e-mail marketing messages annually in their primary inboxes, according to Forrester. Spending on e-mail marketing is also expected to climb to $2 billion that year, up from $1.2 billion in 2009.
To distinguish their messages from spam, e-mail marketers should adhere to standards established by the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which regulates commercial e-mail, Talavera said.
For example, the standards stipulate providing an unsubscribe option and sender information, such as business name and address with each message.
Boca Raton-based CityTwist has had success in the downturn with its geo-targeted e-mail marketing technology and has had to hire more staff to meet growing demand.
Brick-and-mortar businesses like Boca Powerhouse can tap into CityTwist's database of 125 million consumers nationwide who've opted to receive promotional offers from vendors.
For 5 cents per e-mail, businesses can send e-mails with discounts or special offers to residents in a specific zip code or a targeted radius of their locations using CityTwist's software.
When the Dermatology and Liposuction Center in Delray Beach opened last August, management opted to use CityTwist to spread the word about its services. Since then it's sent other e-mails offering a variety of discounted services.
"We've definitely gotten business through it and the business paid for the costs," employee Lisa Amar said.
CityTwist Chief Executive Officer Ken Schwartz said the company expects to double its revenue in 2010. In 2009, revenues topped $3 million.
Talavara said e-mail marketing's low cost compared with other forms of direct marketing is helping to drive adoption in the economic downturn.
Starting at $15 a month, a business with a database of 500 or fewer e-mail addresses can send customized messages using Constant Contact's e-mail marketing system.
Tracking tools that show how many e-mails were opened, forwarded or not delivered and other measurements are also provided, said Lisa Sparks, Constant Contact's regional development director for South Florida.
Experts also say businesses are using social media tools in tandem with e-mail to broaden their marketing reach.
"Using e-mail to deliver blog posts, videos, Facebook fan pages, product reviews and any other type of social media to your customer is now more common," said Taigh White, president of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association.
The two channels can help spread the word about brands online, said White, an online marketing manager for BankAtlantic in Fort Lauderdale.
|Boca Raton company takes off with direct market e-mail advertising
BOCA RATON — Adrianne Kurman has a new weapon for getting the word out about her business: e-mail marketing with CityTwist.
CityTwist is a technology created by Boca Raton-based marketing solutions firm Visionamics that gives businesses access to a database of e-mails of more than 125 million consumers nationwide.
For 5 cents an e-mail, businesses can use those lists to target specific geographic and gender demographics with e-mail promotions and discounts.
For instance, when Kurman's Boca Raton restaurant, Moquila, recently wanted to promote its three-for-one happy hour specials, Kurman logged onto CityTwist's Web site - and within a few minutes, she had sent out an advertisement to a few thousand residents in a five-mile radius of her eatery.
"Businesses are looking to do more with less," said Ken Schwartz, Visionamic's chief executive officer. "They want better results, and they don't want to spend as much as they used to. We fit that model."
Indeed, Kurman said she recently began using e-mail advertising as a way in part to stretch her ad budget further. "People come in and say they saw the e-mail, so I know it works and it's very effective," Kurman said. "I've sent out probably five e-mails so far with them."
Joe Laratro, vice chairman of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association, said that e-mail marketing is one of the best ways for businesses to target demographically.
"These are tough times for many businesses," Laratro said. "Local brick and mortar companies are shifting budgets from the Yellow Pages to online."
Schwartz said 78 percent of CityTwist's revenue comes from returning business.
CityTwist - which debuted in January 2008 - is growing rapidly, currently making about $300,000 a month, he said. They expect to add 40 more people to the 30-person company by the end of the year. The company says it refuses to send spam or ads from porn sites or casinos to its e-mail list.
Every person on CityTwist's e-mail list opted in - at some point - to receive some sort of special or promotion from a business, said founder and chairman Lou Nobilé. That way, the company is in compliance with the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which governs commercial e-mail messages.
Nobilé said they expect to keep growing as more people realize the value of geo-targeted e-mail marketing.
"People check their e-mail when they want to check it, when they have time to respond to it," he said. "They're taking the time to look at it, to decide whether to open it and read it. It means they are taking time to pay attention to what you've got to say."
|Beating the recession
Boca Raton technology firm Visionamics positioned for growth
With money migrating away from traditional media, Visionamics, a Boca Raton-based electronic marketing solutions provider, has positioned itself for growth.
By the end of 2009, the six-year-old company plans to add a net total of 40 people (mostly in sales) to its current 30-person staff, founder and Chairman Lou Nobilé said. The company also expects to grow revenue from $1.6 million in 2008 to about $4 million in 2009.
"We're growing like a weed," Nobilé said.
The growth comes largely on the strength of Visionamics' CityTwist product, which debuted in beta form in January 2008 and now accounts for more than 50 percent of the company's revenue, Visionamics CEO Ken Schwartz explained.
CityTwist is a technology that allows brick-and-mortar vendors to execute e-mail campaigns targeted to specific geographical regions. For instance, if a pizza parlor wants to send a promotional offer to every valid e-mail address belonging to people who live within a 5-mile radius, it can use CityTwist. There is also an online software module that allows the vendors to design and execute a "10-minute e-mail campaign," Schwartz said.
The cost is 5 cents an e-mail, or $50 for 1,000. The average sale was $1,800 in June, Schwartz said.
125 Million-strong database
There are other software tools that allow vendors to conduct automated campaigns, but CityTwist is different because it taps Visionamics' 125 million-strong database, Nobilé said. That database is built with sophisticated data harvesting methods, he said. The company can correlate e-mail addresses with physical addresses to ensure the e-mail address is accurate, for instance.
Other e-mail marketing programs let you call the customers in your phone book, Nobilé said. "We are the tool that lets you call everyone."
The people who are contacted by e-mail have opted, at some point, to receive promotional offers, so the process is compliant with the federal CAN-SPAM Act, Schwartz said.
Vendors are also drawn to CityTwist because Visionamics monitors customers to make sure it is handling only brick-and-mortar companies - "no porno, no casinos," Schwartz noted.
"We have good relations with the internet service providers," he explained. "When we mail out, it doesn't go into the spam box."
Visionamics' Web site says it has handled business for such highly recognized brand names as Toyota, Papa John's and Allstate.
Before Visionamics, Nobilé and Schwartz were top employees at Seisint, the Boca Raton-based data mining company that was sold to LexisNexis for a reported $775 million in 2004. At Seisint, Nobilé was a top software engineer. Schwartz was the general counsel and later did business development after the company was sold, he said.
In addition to CityTwist, Visionamics sells different software services related to database management.
Technology guru Hank Asher, Seisint's founder, confirmed that both men worked for him. Asher spoke highly of Nobilé's technical skill, and said it will serve him well in e-mail marketing.
"With that product, I'm sure he'd be better at it than anyone else I've ever met in my life," Asher said.
Joe Laratro, vice chairman of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association, said e-mail marketing is an increasingly popular vehicle as ad dollars migrate to the Web. A tool like CityTwist can be a particularly attractive way to market for companies that need to keep overhead low, he added.
"I think for your small, brick-and-mortar, local-based companies, it's a good product," he said. "They can test the waters without having to build a $50,000 Web site."
|CityTwist Partners with Marketing Industry Giant, Aspen Marketing Services on
Geo-Targeted Email Campaigns
CityTwist, the leader in geo-targeted email marketing, proudly announced that they have formed a partnership with Aspen Marketing Services, the largest privately-held marketing services agency in the United States, to provide geo-targeted email advertising campaigns for its automotive clients.
For Aspen Marketing, CityTwist is enhancing its auto dealership direct marketing campaigns with geo-targeted email campaigns to its national subscriber database of 125 million consumers. "We have only been using CityTwist for three months and we've almost reached 1 million emails sent. We have seen tremendous ROI, including increased sales, high open rates, strong click-through percentages and it's a tremendous value add product that makes us stand out from our competitors," said Mike Gottschalk, Executive Vice President of Aspen Marketing Services. "Bringing conquest email marketing to our customers has been a priority for Aspen, and CityTwist provides the perfect solution."
CityTwist allows businesses to advertise directly to subscribers within a specific geographic market through email while receiving real-time tracking on open and click-through rates. "We are thrilled to partner with a best-of-breed firm like Aspen Marketing Services, a company that is always focused on providing their customers with the utmost value," said Ken Schwartz, CEO of CityTwist. "We truly believe that this effective yet affordable marketing technology will continue to change the way advertising is done. Besides its ease of use, our clients have seen major sales increases while lowering costs per acquisition."
CityTwist has become the solution for bricks & mortar businesses marketing directly to local customers. Unlike contact services that are limited to contacting a business' pre-existing customers, CityTwist provides access to its subscriber database of 57% of internet users in the United States.
"What's not to like about CityTwist? The additional cost for a direct marketing campaign is minimal. We don't pay for any undelivered emails. There are no spam concerns as all emails are opt-in and we have not received a single complaint from almost a million emails sent. No set-up fees. Increase in client's sales...in other words, we see our relationship with CityTwist lasting a long, long time," added Gottschalk.
|Aspen Marketing adds local targeting to automotive e-mail campaigns
As the automotive industry is challenged with cash strapped consumers, direct marketing agency Aspen Marketing has been working with their automotive clients to reach consumers in a more multichannel and geo-targeted way.
Aspen, which does the dm for various automotive companies including Mercedes, GM and KIA, recently partnered with e-mail services firm CityTwist to do geo-targeted e-mail. The agency has been using direct mail in conjunction with e-mail to promote events and sales at the local level.
"We're really looking at a multichannel marketing approach, whereas a few years ago it was pretty much just direct mail," said Mike Gottschalk, EVP of Aspen Marketing. "We drop the mail ahead of time, then do the e-mail campaign a day or two before the campaign begins to build interest."
Aspen is sending these e-mails out to 125 million consumers nationally. CityTwist handles the geo-targeting component and targets the recipients based on zip code. The demand to be more targeted has come in response to the slowed automotive industry.
"It has forced us to be better marketers and enhance our tactics," added Gottschalk. "We are trying to enhance our products to get a better response out of consumers."
|Auto dealer Brown Daub sees traffic from locally targeted e-mail
Advertising locally is key for bricks-and-mortar businesses, and for Pennsylvania-based auto dealer Brown Daub, targeting consumers via geotargeted e-mail is key to selling cars. Last month the auto dealer sent out an e-mail to promote a Memorial Day tent sale and saw an 11% click-through rate.The auto dealer sends e-mails from its in-house program to customers, but works with geotargeting e-mail services firm CityTwist, an e-mail and database marketing company, in a move to acquire new customers. CityTwist has a database of125 million consumers, who have opted in to receive e-mails about local businesses in their area based on industry.
"It is very much like direct mail," said Ken Schwartz, CEO of CityTwist. "It is locally targeted so that people in your immediate community can receive marketing messages about your product. The idea is to get folks who live in their community come into our clients' stores. The e-mails drive more opens, more clicks, because they are locally relevant to the consumer."
Brown Daub sends e-mails through CityTwist for special events, such as off site tent sales, as well as for promotions they are having on vehicle service such as $20 off an oil change.
"E-mail is important because you can track the response," said Nanci Oakley, advertising and direct marketing manager at Brown Daub. "We use CityTwist to announce events and to reach a broader area outside of our circle of customers."
This month, the brand is working on an e-mail to go out in June that targets Pennsylvania consumers that live in towns where Dodge and Chrysler dealers have closed, to let them know that they can still have their cars maintained at Brown Daub. As car dealers are facing the challenge of a recession and a troubled auto industry, being more targeted is a key to reaching customers.
"The problem auto dealers face is that their used cars are depreciating very quickly, so they have to move their vehicles very quickly and in this recession, the auto industry has been challenged," added Schwartz.
For Brown Daub, acquiring new customers is key. "There are a lot of new people new to the area moving from New York City and Northern New Jersey and they don't really know who the reliable car dealers are and how to reach them," added Oakley. "So we send them e-mails to let them know that we are here."
|Email Marketing Basics
|There is no question that more and more consumers are beginning their car purchase in the comfort of their own homes by going online. Competition for consumers' attention is shifting from ad placement in newspapers, to Website traffic. The question is how can dealerships effectively and affordably drive consumers to their Websites to generate quality leads?
Permission-based email marketing is a proven method of delivering consumers to dealer Websites. Many dealerships, however, are not fully versed on the different types of email marketing available. So here are the basics of this effective lead generation tool.
What does permission-based or 'opt-in' mean? Permission-based or opt-in means that the consumer requests to receive special offers from businesses. When your customer provides you with their email address they have opted-in to receiving communications from you. List companies and email vendors may also have permission-based prospect files that dealers can take advantage of for communicating with potential new customers in their community. If the list you are thinking of using does not contain opt-in or permission based emails, then you are dealing with spam, which can wind up with you getting blacklisted from further advertising via email.
What is a contact service? A contact service is a customer relationship management tool (CRM) that dealerships can use to communicate with their customers via email. Many contact services will only permit users to email their own customers, with email addresses collected directly from those customers. Contact services are very effective and an incredibly inexpensive way to offer current customers specials and discounts from the service department.
What is a prospect service? A prospect service is a new customer acquisition tool that dealerships can use to communicate with potential new customers in and around their dealership. Unlike the CRM contact service, a prospect service dealership can advertise directly to thousands of potential new customers in their community. Prospect services are very effective for driving Website and foot traffic and cost mere pennies on the dollar compared to the traditional prospect marketing methods.
Email marketing benefits. You should think of email marketing in the same manner as direct mail, except it is often more effective and far less expensive. There is no wait time for creating advertisements; instead dealerships can easily be marketing in the same day they decide to do a mailing. Email marketing provides instant tracking of consumer responses and can be forwarded from one consumer to another.In today's changing marketplace, it is important for dealers not to be left behind. Permission-based email marketing provides a proven alternative to traditional marketing techniques, offering contact with thousands of consumers not being reached by newspaper and radio. At the cost of pennies on the dollar compared to other marketing methods, dealers can immediately employ email marketing without taking money from traditional marketing budgets.
|CityTwist and Dunhill International List Co. Enter Into Alliance
CityTwist, the only provider of do-it-yourself permission based email marketing, and Dunhill International List Co., a provider of mailing lists that help businesses reach specific targeted audiences, today announced that they have formed an alliance for Dunhill International to offer its clients a private labeled version of the
CityTwist application. The Alliance marries Dunhill International's reputation as a leader in the list compilation industry with the CityTwist application, the do-it-yourself email advertising application with a massive database of 250 million geo-targeted email addresses of consumers who have opted into receiving information from local and national businesses.
The alliance opens new distribution channels for CityTwist, and provides a new turnkey product offering for Dunhill International. "We are very excited to partner with a leader in the marketing industry the likes of Dunhill," said Ken Schwartz, CEO of Visionamics. "Placing the enabling technology of CityTwist in the hands of Dunhill will create immediate revenue opportunities for both companies, without diluting or cannibalizing Dunhill's other offerings," added Schwartz.
This alliance provides both parties with a true win-win situation, and offers Dunhill International the ability to drive new revenue without investment in development," added Robert Dunhill, CEO of Dunhill International
Launched as a brand new division in January 2008 by Visionamics, the leading provider of deliverable permission based email services, CityTwist's popularity has continued to grow because of the strong return on investment CityTwist delivers. Unlike email contact services, with CityTwist you don't need your own email addresses to use the service. There are no contracts, minimum spends, or other hidden costs.
|CityTwist Local Advertising Reaches its 1,000th Customer
CityTwist, the provider of do-it-yourself permission based email marketing, today announced that it reached 1,000 customers this past June. Launched as a brand new division in January 2008 by Visionamics, the leading provider of deliverable permission based email services, CityTwist's popularity has continued to grow because of the strong return on investment CityTwist delivers. Unlike email contact services, with CityTwist you do not need your own email addresses to use the service.
Advertisers can leverage the massive database of 240 million geo-targeted email addresses, and advertise in the locations they choose to consumers who have opted into receiving information from local and national businesses. For just five cents per email address, CityTwist provides email marketing to local markets that is more effective than other advertising methods.
"I am extremely proud of the development team for creating such an enabling advertising tool for both the SMB market and large businesses alike," said Ken Schwartz, CEO. "One thousand customers is the first of many milestones for CityTwist, and with the enhancements in the project plan there is much more to come," said Schwartz.
Developing email campaigns is fun and easy. There are many professional looking templates available to create that perfect mailpiece, or pre-existing advertisements can be uploaded. And, because response rates are completely trackable, customers always know how their advertising dollar is working.
There are no contracts, minimum spends, or other hidden costs.