In The Beginning – A Brief History | 2009-2012
In the beginning of 2009, we were still recovering from the extensive losses from our failed co-reg path, but making progress and moving forward with the other core services we provided. We had a solid base of customers who were using our Enterprise ESP Platform and services, our email marketing services were going strong and we were steadily increasing the number of new companies who were using our email list cleaning and validation services.
After an intensive restructuring of our entire business plan, we now had a clear picture and vision of what the company needed to do to operate more efficiently, be more productive, promote growth and increase our revenue, while reducing our costs and overhead. We cut the fat and discontinued some services that didn’t bring us in the ROI needed to make them viable and profitable offerings. After refocusing on our core email marketing business, we determined that the three main services we provided, which are our eList Manager – email marketing platform, email marketing and publishing and email list cleaning and validation services would become our main focus.
The End of CPA and Performance Marketing
Based on being burned and not getting paid, to the tune of about $400,000, we decided not to continue running CPA, CPL, CPS or any other performance based marketing or what is commonly refereed to as affiliate marketing. Solid, reputable company’s – affiliate networks we had worked with for many years started folding their tents, going out of business, vanishing and simply not paying their publishers. We saw this as a sign of things to come and ended our long run with performance marketing. We decided to focus on our two, core email marketing models. The first is a CPM model, in which customers would pay us based on the number of emails we sent their offer to. The second model was much different. With this program, customers would only pays us when we delivered their email advertisements to a users inbox, who did not have their images blocked. We call this our Guaranteed Opens Program. Because both of these programs are prepaid, we never needed to worry about not getting paid.
Both 2010 and 2011 were solid growth years and we had increasing revenues and profits every quarter, as we fine-tuned our service offerings. We found a few niche markets that we performed very well in and focused more of our attention on developing new relationships and partnerships with companies in these markets. Luxury hotel, resorts, travel, automotive, real estate and technology were our best performing areas for acquisition email marketing. Although we had many existing customers, who used our email marketing services to promote these offerings, it seemed that referrals from existing customers were bringing in a steady flow of new customers, which included advertising agencies, marketing and PR firms as well as end user companies. These new customers and companies were using our services to help drive new, targeted traffic to their website or their customers websites to increase sales and help generate new customer revenue. Within 2012 alone, we generated between $10-12 million in hotel room reservation income, which does not include additional income earned from hotel guests staying at the property, from a total spend of roughly $1.0 to $1.2 million in email marketing expense. I delve into this in greater detail in the article, Hotel Marketing: The Missing Link.
In July 2012, we doubled our server capacity once again to accommodate the growing demand for our email list cleaning and validation service. We were on track to clean and validate in excess of 600 million email records in 2012. This service had become, from what started as an in-house service for our own internal use and benefit, an integral part of our service offering to the online marketing community and other businesses of all sizes and was generating a substantial portion of our annual revenue.
In October 2012 we launched our Email Marketing Agency, which provided a hands-off approach for any company who did not have the manpower, ability, knowledge, expertise or time to manage their email marketing in-house. This new agency service provided a simple, fully managed, turnkey email marketing services platform for companies of all sizes.
By the end of 2012, we had a great team of employees, a strategic plan in place, a phenomenal support staff and some of the most knowledgeable and efficient sales and business development people any company could hope for. While our search engine rankings were constantly improving, our website traffic increased proportionately and our revenues grew steadily on a monthly basis. We had happy customers, our business was growing at a fairly aggressive rate and I could only assume that our competition was feeling our growth, while trying to figure out how not to shrivel up and die on the vine and recoup some of their lost business.
In the conclusion of this 4 part article series, I will discuss the struggles, successes and growth for me personally, as well as Email Answers in 2013. I’ll share what I see in my crystal ball and where I see my future and the direction of Email Answers in the years ahead.