REVIEWER: Drew Bolger, marketing technology coordinator for Orlando Sentinel Communications.
BACKGROUND: Orlando Sentinel Communications, publisher of the Orlando Sentinel, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tribune Company, Chicago. In addition to newspaper publishing, the company is involved in direct mail, niche publishing, interactive online services and commercial printing. Orlando Sentinel Communications is a partner with Time Warner Communications in Orlando's 24-hour local news channel, Central Florida News 13.
PLATFORMS: IBM S70 RS/6000 running AIX and Netfinity Server running Windows 2000.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Our immediate need was to expand our e-mail capabilities and reduce our dependence on third party e-mail distributors to reduce our costs. Prior to acquiring Affinium eMessage, Orlando Sentinel Communications e-mails were simple text newsletters. The use of multiple vendors made consolidation of customer information problematic, impeding our flexibility and adding complexity to our direct marketing campaigns. With Affinium, we have the potential to grow our current monthly e- mail programs and add e-mail as a marketing channel in our integrated marketing campaigns. As a result of a strategic, unified approach, Orlando Sentinel Communications has the opportunity to create true multichannel marketing opportunities for advertisers utilizing print, online, e-mail and direct mail.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Currently, we are successfully utilizing the following e-mail functions: bounce-back tracking; mailbox rules and actions; dual document (HTML and text); clickthrough tracking of offers; and list management.
STRENGTHS: Affinium eMessage allows us to execute multichannel, multiwave campaigns; simultaneously connect to various databases, including flat files, using Affinium's Universal Dynamic Interconnect (UDI); provide one-to-one communications with more personalized messages; track clickthrough information for offers in any message; and manage our distribution lists for data quality.
WEAKNESSES: There are several necessary steps to create an interaction in eMessage. To send an e-mail with a nominal amount of features, several components need to be created. Although the flow of information from one component to the next can initially be confusing and require a significant investment of time, working with the components becomes easier as you learn the logic and gain experience with features. Additionally, once created, the components can be reused in future e- mails.
SELECTION CRITERIA: A major goal of ours is to make e-mail marketing a core competency and integrate our marketing distribution channels. Affinium eMessage allows us to bring all aspects of e-mail marketing in house and have control over all features including list management, clickthrough tracking and integration with other marketing channels. A major differentiation in our selection was Unica's UDI, which allows us to read various database sources as well as fixed-width flat files.
DELIVERABLES: We have one major product at this point: a Reader Rewards retention newsletter sent biweekly to current subscribers. We also have two smaller newsletters sent to business advertisers in the classified section of the newspaper that inform advertisers of market statistics and conditions. The "owners" of these newsletters also utilize Affinium tools to send e-mails with additional information (i.e., business contest entry notification, special sections with available advertising space, etc.) as needed. With the clickthrough tracking of Affinium, we are able to provide more reporting than previous capabilities allowed.
VENDOR SUPPORT: In retrospect, we should have scheduled more training as part of our installation plan as we invested a significant amount of time on self-teaching. Also, we did not learn about necessary upgrades until after significant time was spent researching functionality issues. Once the upgrades were complete, these functions worked as expected. Unica Customer Support staff has been very responsive to issues we have encountered. Unica has also been very receptive to enhancement requests. Once we suggest enhancements, we are updated as needed regarding the feasibility and status of our suggestions.
DOCUMENTATION: There was not as much value in the documentation as has been seen in other software manuals. The manual is basic and only displays tool functionality. There was a greater benefit when we directly contacted customer support.
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