Best practices for post-merger e-mail marketing

Publication: BToBOnline
March 13, 2008
By Karen J. Bannan

Any company that merges or incorporates another into its fold ends up dealing with several e-mail marketing challenges. E-mail lists might overlap, or design standards might be completely different – not to mention that the companies would likely be using disparate e-mail service providers, making it difficult to coordinate a unified program. Sixteen months ago, ThermoFisher Scientific (the company formed when Thermo Electron Corp. and Fisher Scientific International merged in November 2006) was facing all of the above, said Jeff Mucci, the company’s e-marketing and analytics manager, enterprise e-business, who started right after the merger.

“We had a ton of different lists and different list sources,” Mucci said. “And that’s not to say all the lists and names we had were great,” he added. “Everything was fragmented when we merged. There was no singularity, and each separate company segment managed their own lists using their own e-mail service provider vendor.”

This meant that many outgoing messages didn’t align with ThermoFisher Scientific’s overall brand. Recipients were unsubscribing because they were overwhelmed with e-mail from the multiple divisions within the combined company, Mucci said. Plus, with a fragmented list, there was no way to make sure someone who unsubscribed from one list would be removed from all the company’s lists.

“There are still companies to this day that are choosing not to receive e-mails from us,” he said. “Some of our best and biggest clients opted out because the volume of e-mails was just too high.”

In an effort to counteract all those problems, ThermoFisher Scientific asked all its divisions to use the same e-mail service provider, SubscriberMail. The company now has a single subscriber list for its 49 subaccounts. “Each business unit has its own accounts, but if someone unsubscribes from one list, then the change is carried over to all of the lists,” Mucci said.

As part of this strategy, the company put limits on the number of times any customer or prospect can be contacted in a single month. It also created several “seed” accounts on the main subscriber list to ensure that someone from the marketing department monitors every message that goes out for brand and design quality.

“We’ve established corporate brand templates, although people can build their own templates as long as they follow overall design suggestions – color use, logo placement, copyright, using ‘Inc.,’ for example,” Mucci said. “Anyone who abuses the privilege has to use the templates, so this forces people to adhere to the rules.”

The benefits of each step have been significant, he said. Delivery rates have increased “dramatically,” unsubscribe rates are down and there haven’t been any spam complaints in more than 90 days. Mucci is so confident in his new program that he’s having marketing leadership go back to top customers to tell them that changes have been put into place so they can possibly resubscribe, he said.

“We’re finally able to see who [in marketing] is doing something right and where success lies,” he said. “We can share best practices, and we’re finally seeing brand consistency.”

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