Aberdeen Group published an insight report in June of 2002 that called e-mail marketing "The Last Mile of CRM." A couple of key points should be revisited today, based on the current environment. Aberdeen very eloquently laid out the argument that e-mail marketing is not a mainstay of CRM suites; rather it is a "point solution." Furthermore, most corporate CRM infrastructures can't support diverse, multi-channel corporate marketing, manage hosted services, and support all its needs. Rather, Aberdeen said humorously, most e-mail marketing departments in companies are "bringing a knife to a gunfight."
Do you feel that way? There are many messaging solutions now integrated into most applications, but marketers and corporations are not able to look across the organization and get a clear sense of all the complex messaging needs. Between marketing, sales, channel marketing, Internet marketing, site-triggered communications, behavioral communications, support-triggered communications and call routing/queuing for call centers, there is a lot to handle.
As Aberdeen predicted in 2002, now is really an inspiring time because the value proposition of e-mail marketing has emerged as a package of Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions. Aberdeen also said that e-mail marketing would be heavily adopted by catalogers, retailers, financial services, high tech, automotive and any other types of companies that require secure, online relationships.
So are we at this "last mile of CRM" as was predicted in 2002? Or, as we say at the end of consulting engagements, "Are we in a better place today than we were yesterday?" Let's think about this:
Lots to ponder, lots of issues and my two cents. As an industry, we need to get past execution and beyond relevance in how we communicate with our customers. We must find a means of communicating the value at each stage in terms of costs, infrastructure needs and long-term gains. That is the only way you'll make decisions that will survive change. The "Last Mile of CRM" is not the technology decisions or trends for e-mail marketing, but rather your ability to support your decisions over time.