Graeme BeardsellExperian CheetahMail is a service provider of permission-based email marketing solutions that is popular among enterprises worldwide, as the company demonstrates best that it is crucial to know the customers before an effective email marketing campaign can kick in.

And isn’t one of the many benefits of email marketing the ability to precisely track and measure the results of campaigns? By using Experian CheetahMail's tools and robust reporting capabilities, businesses can create quickly and easily response-driven customer segments based on any number of factors including for instance demographics, purchase history or click-through behavior, enabling marketers to deliver emails as individualized as possible. Asian e-Marketing decided to take a look at Experian CheetahMail's services and reporting tools and met Mr. Graeme Beardsell, Experian’s vice president, Sales & Marketing for Asia Pacific  as well as Mr. John Merakovsky, director of Experian CheetahMail, Asia Pacific for an interview.

Both confirmed that in today’s increasingly competitive economic environment, the need to demonstrate ROI from marketing spend has never been as crucial and name it as the main reason why CheetahMail is enjoying growing interest. Its innovative, feature-rich technology and the company’s strategic insight and industry expertise allows generating increases in customer loyalty, brand equity and ROI as a true one-to-one dialog with target groups. By focusing on email marketing and customer data, Experian CheetahMail is not only capable of providing businesses with a true customer intelligence platform, but also enables their clients to send the most personalized and relevant messages possible, too.  

Mr. Beardsell told us proudly, that Experian operates in seventeen Asian countries except India, and the subcontinent “all the way down to Australia and up to Korea and China”, is growing rapidly. According to Mr. Beardsell, who is based in Experian’s headquarters in Singapore, “Experian managed to grow around 8% quarter on quarter, year on year, despite all their competitors going backwards.”

The company has been operating in Asia for 30 years now and has gained a lot of experience in the market through this time and also with skilled employees, enabling them to ensure that their leading products are effectively deployed here in Asia. Although Cheetahmail is just two years on the market, it has fast become one of their leading products globally. For example, it was voted as one of the best email marketing platform providers by the independent research firm Forrester Research in their December 2009 report and also won an award last year as one of the Top 500 Online Retailers in the US.

Mr. Merakovsky told us confidently: “There isn’t another service provider out there who has the market presence we have. The fact is, we are Experian and entering the market is straightforward for us as a company, with offices and experienced people almost everywhere in Asia. So, we are able to give our clients the quality of service they require and that’s why we ranked so high in both the Forrester report and the opinion of our customers respectively.” Mr. Beardsell added: “Don’t forget that we are part of a billion dollar company with thousands of people worldwide. We have the ability to make investments to support our clients on the ground and that’s the number one reason why they have chosen our service.”

Mr. Merakovsky reaffirms that they have dedicated their expertise to clients’ projects, saying: “We show them results and that their investment is working for them.” According to him, the fundamental thing about Experian Cheetahmail is that they don’t just focus on platform functionalities, but are actually deeply aware what their clients' business goals are. “In email marketing you need a total, holistic marketing approach,” he says, and continues that they are the largest e-marketing provider worldwide, with over 70 billion emails per year, all permission based, and that they work with a couple of thousands of organizations now. “We have the highest deliverability globally and by using Cheetahmail, customers can be sure that their mails are not jammed, because of Cheetahmail’s reputation, its networks and our relationship with all the ISPs. And this doesn’t only occur on a global, but also on a local level,” he states.

Further, he stated that relevancy is the key to email open rates, click-throughs and transactions from emails, explaining to us the scope of trigger email, messages that are more relevant as they are sent out during a special occasion or event, which gets more attention from audiences. Usually 80% of subscribers do not open emails with irrelevant or conventional subject lines, so businesses should try to use more creative or themed subject lines to maximize the open rates.

Mr. Merakovsky addressed the hot topic of value segmentation as well, telling us that it can provide businesses with a clear idea of how to target customers for email marketing campaigns. Segmentation can be simple (e.g. gender, purchasers, non-purchasers, geography, etc.) or more advanced and include even social networks for driving retail traffic. He elaborated, "The massive spike in retail traffic that we have observed from Facebook and other social networking sites clearly indicates that these new platforms are expected to help businesses open new revenue streams and increase their ROI from targeted online marketing."

Experian CheetahMail was built to manage the evolving needs of today’s leading marketers from all industries. Regardless of an organization’s needs, advanced reporting, dynamic content, transactional messaging, customer analysis, enhanced deliverability, QA procedures or workflow management, Experian CheetahMail seems to have the right technology and expertise in place to garner the ROI and customer loyalty for its clients.

John MerakovskyIndeed, Experian’s experts are right now extremely excited about CheetahMail’s trigger messaging and dynamic content features. The automated application increases clients’ ability to contact highly engaged customers with relevant communication at the appropriate time in their lifecycle with their brands. Merakovsky explained: “If you send a huge amount of emails and you need to target the content in a dynamic way, this really helps. A client like Borders in UK for instance has up to 200 dynamic content messages for their book promotions and sales, which they use for their emails. The system works content out on the fly according to references, history, or any other data to find out what’s relevant for the end user. So, you need an incredibly powerful system that can rapidly pick the right email for the right recipient and that at the same time makes sure that the messages reach the inboxes. Further needed is then an effective reporting system that can accurately track the open clicks and conversion data, so you can look at the results and reports and say what’s working and what’s not.  To do all that has just been described, you need a lot of expertise, and therefore Experian has the highest skilled and highest motivated client-centric people.”

Experian’s application is an entirely web based hosted solution and from a technical perspective, it is a very large, powerful and secure platform. Cheetahmail never had one single security issue so far and their customers’ data is safe with them, they claim, as they are a hosted model and therefore invest a lot in their technology,technical architecture and infrastructure, and security. Merakovsky says that his company spares no investment to protect their clients’ data and that their reporting capabilities are very robust and especially feature rich. “We even have something that allows our clients to see their data visually via hot-spots so that marketing people who react more to visual appearance rather than numbers can be pleased, too.” The usability and simplicity of their reports therefore seems very close to Experian’s heart, which is supported by their flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that responds with great savings to market pressure. Merakovsky stated: “The faster you respond to the market and get your email out, the more targeted it is to the needs of the individual, the more competitive you can actually be”.

And Experian takes even another step forward with ReMarketing messages that have been proven to typically garner 30% higher conversion rates than standard bulk mailings. By coupling web analytics technology with email marketing in one integrated system, marketers have the ability to track customer activity on their websites then deploy messages to those customers in real-time. Flexible implementation models, superior security, automation capabilities, and advanced data analysis are all built into Experian CheetahMail's ReMarketing engine. “One of the other areas where ReMarketing works incredibly well is abandoned shopping carts”, Merakovsky explained, adding: “So if a customer is in the process of shopping online and stops in between, an email can be sent to remind him to move on with the shopping process or empty his cart. There is no breach of any privacy issue here as it is just a reminder to an individual to move on.”

Asked about their expectations regarding adoption and usage for CheetahMail in general and Asia respectively, Experian’s spokespersons said “There is a fairly natural curve of sophistication we see happening around the globe and different markets are at different points in that curve. So we realized that we are in the forefront in Asia, but behind the US and UK in terms of using digital marketing and best practices. The Australian market is however shifting in the past two years towards better techniques and getting greater results. In the broader Asian economies you just can’t generalize – between Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore – as they are very different markets. It’s what our European colleagues are thinking about Asia. They see it as a homogenous market, which obviously isn’t correct.”

In the region, they are still missing the broad usage of dynamic content or trigger emails and campaigns. However, the sophistication of email marketing here is definitely rising. Sands Macao and Venetian Macao have recently engaged Experian CheetahMail for building a more strategic, cohesive and customer-centric online communication strategy that individually speaks to the diverse needs of their customers. Merakovsky expects in the next two years a very quick adoption of these more advanced technologies in the region. “Companies seem to realize here that they have reached the limits with what they have and want to go beyond it, and Experian provides guidelines in this process and takes their customers on that journey,” he concluded.

By Daniela La Marca