How One Mailer Switched to E-Mail and Thrived
Could you survive the switch from direct mail to e-mail? The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) did just that — and lived to tell about it at a session during the Annual Conference for Catalog & Multichannel Merchants (ACCM) in New Orleans last month. Here are the lessons the museum learned:
MFA shut down its catalog operations in 2003, but then wanted to reach out to former catalog and Internet customers via e-mail. Resource-constrained, the organization needed to find a way to quickly and efficiently build the requisite e-mail list to go digital in a meaningful way. Organic growth wasn’t sufficient — to date, MFA had accumulated only 10,000 e-mail addresses through brick-and-mortar sign-ups and Web site activity. Meanwhile, its postal database exceeded 400,000 records.
Therein lay the answer — e-mail append. MFA was able to append more than 100,000 e-mail addresses (24.5 percent) to its postal database within 12 months. It worked with e-mail database service provider FreshAddress on the project.
In their presentation at ACCM, Austin Bliss, president/co-founder of FreshAddress, and Ellen Bragalone, director of retail operations for MFA, provided the following factors businesses should consider when looking for an e-mail append vendor:
- Solid reputation. Ask for testimonials, references and a credible client list.
- Experience and knowledge. Make sure e-mail appending is the vendor's primary area of focus.
- Price. Be wary of offers that are “too good to be true.”
- Stringent data protection protocols. Understand how your data will be protected.
- One hundred percent opted-in data. Insist on the time, date and URL of the opt-in.
- Suppressions. The vendor should run your unsubscribe list and suggest other suppressions.
- Robust data hygiene. Double-scrub your results.
- Deliverable results. Vendors should offer a 100 percent guarantee that your results will not bounce.
After MFA had its appended e-mail addresses, it needed to integrate them carefully into its existing database and e-mail marketing strategy. Here’s what it did: