2012, COLUMNS, FEATURED, GUEST COLUMNS, latest-stories, MAY 2012

Betting big on Email Marketing

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Manjunatha Kutarahalli, Co-Founder and CEO, Kenscio Digital India
Manjunatha  Kutarahalli, Co-Founder and CEO, Kenscio Digital India

Manjunatha Kutarahalli, Co-Founder and CEO, Kenscio Digital India

Digital marketing has been a rage in the West for quite sometime now. In India too there has been a shift to digital marketing space as more younger and older population are getting online and their spending habits are changing.

Email – with low investment and high returns, is one of the prime digital channels for companies to continuously engage with their large subscriber base. Indian companies have long attempted multiple solutions from in-house SMTP mailers to MTA boxes to Email Solution Providers (ESP) of all sizes. As the internet email regulations have evolved over a period of time and often dictated by the Internet Service Providers and their continued redefinition of the rules for accepting and delivering mails to the inboxes of the recipients, Indian companies are more and more trying to use the Email Service Providers.

Some of the Indian companies have attempted to easily take some open source solutions like PHP Mailer and modifying or building to the needs of the Indian companies. These solutions mostly lack the authentication features required by ISPs like DKIM and speed throttling. Most of the solutions are not built for managing entire email life cycle communication and the data privacies required. Their infrastructure is not scalable and can’t be separated for each of their client.

Moreover, these solutions that are not built for analytic driven marketing lack the analytic features. This makes the marketer not aware of his engaged audience by demographics, email behaviour and purchase behaviour. This can also be treated by ISPs as bad senders and emails may be blocked or sent to spam folders by ISPs.

According to Reputation Authority, Indian Companies using home grown email communication platforms are sending more than 40 per cent spam. Moreover, there is no intelligence to analyse the active and inactive subscriber base over time.

Seeing the growth in the internet population and recent explosion in e-commerce and daily deals, several international email service providers (ESPs) have now entered the Indian market through sales team located elsewhere or in India and offering their more matured platforms to Indian companies. This is a most welcome trend.

However there are more Indian companies offering such solutions. International email service providers like Epsilon, Cheetahmail, Emarsys and Lyrisare are competing with Indian email service providers on price and dropping in account management, project management and integration features for Indian companies. When their minimum ticket size is more than 100K US Dollars per client in matured markets of USA and Europe, and they throw in a dedicated account manager, solutioning to automate the clients email communication and providing full services, the international ESPs are just providing a software tool to send bulk mails to Indian companies, with none of those needed services that are very much needed by Indian companies.

It is witnessed that Indian companies as they try to adopt email communication as a prime medium for their online business, are largely under served by both Indian companies who lack features and international ESPs who cannot provide much needed strategy and expertise with local resources for companies to better engage their subscribers.

Email cost measured in CPM (cost per thousand) may be a deciding factor when you choose the ESP. While each ESP may have a cost per CPM to compete, a self managed email platform may not be a single decisive factor. As such, Indian companies have to start looking at not only the platform, but also need to look at the expertise of the email service provider for their mailing infrastructure; security practices for their data; expertise in email marketing; thought leadership; ability to do customizations; integrate their websites and backend systems for life cycle of an email communication; and ability in managing their email campaigns.

The views expressed here are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pitch

About the author / 

Manjunatha Kutarahalli

Co-Founder and CEO, Kenscio Digital India

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