Email Marketing

The Truth About Email List Rental

If you’re unfamiliar or unimpressed with the practice of email list rental here’s the lowdown on the benefits and pitfalls, as well as the key differentiating factors between renting email lists other direct marketing tactics.

What Experience Has Taught Me

Legitimate email list rental opportunities have been tarnished by the practices of less-than-stellar providers…be they those who sell email addresses or outright thieves. In my 14 years in email marketing, I’ve worked with countless list providers. Some great. Some horrid. I now know what to look for, who to go to, who to avoid, and how a campaign will likely perform. But there are few guiding principles that will help all marketers, even those inexperienced at list marketing.

On a very high level, I’ve found that the best results for business-to-consumer marketers (i.e. marketers with a consumer-facing product or service) often lie in renting true subscriber lists. That is, opt-in email lists that are derived from a single source such as a publication, association, or non-competitive product/service. They are brands that the recipient knows and often values or respects.

The practice of selecting true subscriber lists is a great choice for business-to-business marketers too; however I have also found success in using well-maintained complied B2B lists (i.e. lists which are derived from multiple sources). B2B lists are a bit different. Marketers have far more latitude. More about that later.

Key Differentiators

  • The list owner (i.e. that company that built and rents the list) will transmit the marketer’s offer.
  • The marketer pays a fee for this service, usually on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis. Costs range from a few dollars per thousand to $550/CPM, depending on the volume of the campaign, the desired demographics, and source of the list.
  • Unlike direct mail or telemarketing, the marketer never sees the list.
  • Unlike inbound marketing, it’s all about producing a valuable offer, not content.
  • The email lists that a marketer chooses is often the most important factor, followed closely by the subject line, the offer, then the copy and design.

The Upside for Marketers

For many marketers email list rental is a consistent means of growing their own subscriber lists, packing their pipelines and of course making direct sales.  Here are a few benefits.

  • Value of association (“Hey, look at us, we’re friends with the list owner!”)
  • Low cost of acquisition (compared to other direct channels)
  • It’s quick (test results and make adjustments in days, not weeks)
  • Better deliverability (Compared to purchased email lists)
  • It’s compliant (think CAN-SPAM act)

The Upside for List Owners

List owners come in many flavors such as retailers, wholesalers, event producers, associations, as well as traditional publishers and bloggers. All of which can find considerable value in email list rental too, albeit of a different sort.

  • Revenue ($1-2 per subscriber, per year is a good rule of thumb)
  • Control  (what they’ll mail, how often they’ll mail those 3rd-party offers, and who they’ll work with)
  • Easy (no sales, marketing, billing – if you work with a professional list management company).
  • Hygiene (weed out hard bounces more frequently, which helps their overall email deliverability rates)

Case in Point

Going beyond selecting the right lists, wise marketers are no longer taking the “BUY MY STUFF” approach. Instead email list rental campaigns are getting more creative, take a look at this campaign from Surfline and Rip Curl. It’s a great example of how the publisher (Surfline) provides their subscribers with direct access to exclusive offers all while reaping additional revenue from the marketer (Rip Curl) in the process.

The Future of Email List Rental

Email deliverability will continue to be a challenge for marketers who use  purchased email lists. In fact, “challenge” is probably too light of a description. And that’s a good thing because it frees up inboxs for more relevant email communications. Besides improved deliverability, legitimate email list rental provides marketers with the opportunity to earn new customers at a fair price, all while respecting the mindshare of the subscribers. But be wary, the list rental universe is often a dodgy one. Marketers and list owners alike should look first to companies that specialize in email lists that originate (and are mailed) from respectable and identifiable sources.

Still have questions? Need a recommendation? Email me at

– Scott Hardigree | Indiemark | @indiescott

The Power of Personalization in Email Marketing

Don't be that guy.I recently took my 9 year old daughter to Justice, a children’s apparel retailer. From the onset the manager bombarded me, at 5 minute intervals, with product recommendations and promotions. This continued for 30 minutes until I was forced to school her on customer insight and preferences.

A bad email program is much like an ineffective sales person. Instead of having to read the disinterest on the faces of your customers, feel the negative impact on sales, or in my case, hear the harshness of their words; email marketing can tell you almost everything you need to know about your customers and help you to sell more.

Going Beyond “Hi FNAME”

The insight required to make your email program more profitable is already at your finger tips and it’s inexpensive. It comes to you in the form of data. I don’t mean open and click data, although that will tell you a lot, I’m talking about data that will allow you to personalize the experience for each of your customers.

Sure, personalized greetings are often well-received but as I mentioned in a recent Chief Marketer article, this year’s standout Valentine’s Day campaigns were those that used deeper data, such as purchase history and customer profiles, to make their offers more personal and therefore more relevant. In the article, I was speaking largely about retailers but service companies too have a slew of easily accessible data to track (or even predict) the purchase intent of their customers as well as identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

What Do You Have to Work With?

The sources of actionable data are seemingly endless, but here are few categories and specific examples:

Profile: Imagine you run a travel agency and I’m your 65 y/o prospect, do you think I’d respond better to an offer that reflected the most popular senior destinations? Now imagine that the images in the offer were those of the silver-haired persuasion. Or perhaps I’m on west coast time and your webinar is schedule for 1pm eastern, would I be more likely to reserve my seat if the email read 11am pacific?

Purchase History: If I bought gifts in or around today’s date, two years in a row, might I want to buy another again this year? What if the new gift recommendations were in line with my previous purchases of those of other gift buyers? Conversely, what if I’ve already purchased your primary product, do you think that I want to hear about how much money I could have saved, if only I’d waited? Instead, wouldn’t I rather know about your secondary offerings?

Activity: Maybe I’ve downloaded three sequential white papers in 30 days, but I’ve yet to make a purchase, would it be a good idea to invite me into a discussion about my specific needs? Or maybe I haven’t responded to your offers in some time, am I perfect for a reactivation offer or satisfaction survey?

Preferences: Imagine that you have 10 different products but I’m a reseller that’s only interested on products 1-5. Shouldn’t I be put into a segment with other resellers? What if I’m a direct user but I only want to receive educational information, as opposed to promotional, I’m more likely to remain an enthusiast and share your information if I only get what I really want?

It’s Easy and Inexpensive To Execute

I’m always surprised when SMB marketers say that using data at this level is only for the big boys. That may have been true in the years past, but today any ESP that’s worth their salt integrates easily with your CRM or E-commerce solutions and web analytics. All you have to do is integrate it and most importantly test it.

– Scott Hardigree | Indiemark

Join Us at Social Fresh in Tampa

What: Social Fresh Tampa is their second event of 2010. This one day conference will have tons of fresh social media success stories and actionable tips. The content will reflect all Social Fresh flagship events with big brands, all specifically for marketing professionals. More case studies, less concept.

When: February 8th, 2010, 7am to 6:30pm

Who: Social Fresh Tampa will have 30-35 speakers split between two rooms of content, stand alone featured speakers and panels.

How: Purchase Ticket ($315)


Palm Beach Condo Company Selects Indiemark

PRESS RELEASE: Palm Beach Condo Company, South Florida’s leading condominium real estate brokerage firm, has announced the selection of Indiemark as its marketing agency of record. Indiemark will be responsible for all facets of Palm Beach Condo Company’s consumer-facing email marketing, online marketing and social media marketing efforts.

Headquartered in Orlando FL, Indiemark specializes in interactive communications for global and domestic companies and organizations. Indiemark will work with Palm Beach Condo Company to showcase and communicate their many properties – including the largest single selection of condos available for sale in South Florida – which has propelled the company to become the leaders in this and other growing markets.

“Selecting Indiemark as our agency of record is a natural extension of the relationship that we have built with them over the years,” said Brian Saver CEO at Palm Beach Condo Company. “Scott Hardigree and his team have immersed themselves in our company and in our business. We have developed a strong partnership, and we believe this partnership will pay dividends for us, our partners and for the many clients who trust us.”

“Palm Beach Condo Company has a wealth of expertise to share with prospective condo owners, which is particularly important given the complexity of the real estate ownership and investment marketplace,” said Scott Hardigree, CEO at Indiemark. “They help countless individuals, families, and investors cut through that clutter, every day. We’re proud to serve as their agency.”

Join Indiemark at the Email Summit ’10

It’s only two days out from MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit. Miami here we come!

Not only am I excited to meet with a slew of new vendors, partners and clients but I’m also looking forward to the robust session lineup, here’s a few must-attends for Indiemark:

  • The Five Best Ways to Optimize Email Response: A Six Month Experiment Across 1.2 Billion Sends
  • How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones – Email’s NEW Critical Role
  • Short and Long-term Strategies for Email List Growth
  • Bringing Dead Prospects Back to Life with Email Marketing
  • Mounting the New Challenges of Deliverability

If you’d like to schedule a time to chat, please reply below or ping me directly.

It’s only two days out from MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit. Miami here we come!Not only am I excited to meet with a slew of new vendors, partners and clients, but most I’m also looking forward to a the really robust session lineup, here’s few must –attends for Indiemark:

· The Five Best Ways to Optimize Email Response: A Six Month Experiment Across 1.2 Billion Sends

· How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones – Email’s NEW Critical Role

· Short and Long-term Strategies for Email List Growth

· Bringing Dead Prospects Back to Life with Email Marketing

· Mounting the New Challenges of Deliverability

If you’ve not yet registered for this two-day event, you’d better get busy.

You Might Need an Email Marketing Agency If…

This post is intended to be a resource for those who, admittedly, know that they could be deriving more value from the email channel. No matter if decide to hire outside professionals, such as an email marketing agency, or in-house talent; this guide will help you to assess and reevaluate your current email marketing efforts.

Let’s Look at the Numbers

Email has been the marketing workhorse for a decade, and that’s unlikely to change in the near future.  It allows targeting because it’s data driven. It drives direct sales. It builds relationships, loyalty and trust. It also supports sales through other direct channels:

  • According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing generated an ROI of $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2008, that’s twice that of the first runner-up.
  • A recent summary by MarketingSherpa states, “Those that see the effectiveness of their email programs diminishing are much more likely to have short-sighted organizational attitudes toward the tactic. Organizations with investment-oriented views of email reap the rewards.”
  • The CMO Council’s Marketing Outlook ’08 Report reviewed the plans and opinions of 650 marketers. Email marketing was the top target area for investment.
  • In a 2008 survey of retailers, stated that “E-mail is the most mentioned successful tactic overall”.

Handle Email Marketing In-house?

If you don’t have an existing agency relationship or do have sufficient in-house talent, consider this:

  1. You (meaning you or your team) know your business; are you also well-versed in email marketing?
  2. If yes, do you have time and energy to optimize the effort?
  3. How does your integrated marketing and CRM compare against your competitors?
  4. Does your email marketing drive sales, build loyalty, and reduce marketing costs?
  5. Is your email program founded on research and/or historical data?
  6. Does your in-house work save or cost you money?

Already Have an Expert?

If you already have a marketing agency or other outside help, ask yourself:

  1. Do they specialize in email or are they “full service”?
  2. Do they generate an ROI that’s in-line with the findings above?
  3. Do they think about us without being prodded?
  4. Do they understand our target market and business processes?
  5. Have they explored and monetized all the options?
  6. Is their work for fresh, exciting, and reflective of best practices?

Pieces of the Email Marketing Equation

Email marketing can involve customer acquisition, lead nurturing, client reactivation and retention, and of course direct sales, which means that a host of processes and services are potentially involved, including:

  • Strategy & Research
  • Editorial & Promotional Planning
  • Copy Writing & Content Development
  • Design & Coding
  • List Growth & Community Building
  • List Segmentation & List Enhancement
  • Behavioral & Customer Profiling
  • Message Delivery & Deliverability Monitoring
  • Cross-channel Integration
  • Email Service Provider (ESP) or In-house Mailing Solution Evaluations
  • Lead Nurturing & Direct/Up/Cross Sales
  • Multivariate Testing & Program Optimization

If the list above encompasses more than you’re doing, this may be a strong indicator that you’re under-utilizing this lucrative channel. Perhaps it’s time for a fresh marketing partner or maybe you need to reallocate budgets and/or provide your in-house team with more training?

If you’ve (officially) determined that you need help, stay tuned. In the second and last installment we’ll discuss HOW to find and evaluate qualified talent that fits your unique needs and meets your budgetary restrictions.

Email is the Preferred Method of Receiving Communication from Marketers

Eric Kirby, an email marketing veteran, delivered a keynote address Monday at MediaPost‘s Email Insider Summit, where he dismissed suggestions  that email marketing may be losing steam while urging marketers to carpe diem and capitalize on social media networks.

Email has been the marketing workhorse for a decade, and that’s unlikely to subside, he said. This endorsement, which is supported with hard data, comes as the industry has dealt with suggestions in 2009 that its long-held, top-tier role is fading.

However companies are using some inventive programs with mobile and social media to grow enhance their email efforts that marketers could learn from, he indicated. Outback Steakhouse, for example, offered a free Bloomin’ Onion to the first 500,000 people who became its fans on Facebook. And its list grew by 125,000 between Nov. 16 and 24.

This and other relieving statistics  (including Tiger Woods’ preferred media channel usage) are outlined is this well-delivered and insightful presentation.

Indiemark is the Email Marketing Agency of Record for eFOREX

eFOREX logoeFOREX is an online global trading services provider acting as both an agent and a market maker in over the counter markets including foreign exchange, precious metals, commodity and equity derivatives. eFOREX caters to a broad range of clients including private banks and institutions, speculators and hedgers, money managers, as well as institutional and self-directed traders.

Indiemark, a full-service email marketing agency, will develop and manage comprehensive email marketing communications plans for the company, including all client relationship and acquisition efforts.

“Given the company’s rich tradition in forex and online trading, Indiemark is honored to work with them in determining and executing their future email marketing directions,” said Scott Hardigree, CEO at Indiemark.