_Chris Carder is CEO of “ThinData”:http://www.thindata.com/, Canada’s leading permission-based email marketing firm whose more than 200 clients worldwide, include Aeroplan, Air Canada, Direct Energy, Delta Hotels, Canada Savings Bonds, World Vision, and Mirvish Productions._
_Chris leads a team of 40 email and e-marketing professionals and is a two-time Canadian New Media Awards winner (Volunteer and Employer)._
_Active in the community, he is also Co-Chair of “The International White Ribbon Campaign”:http://www.whiteribbon.com/ (having utilized the Internet to help grow the campaign from Toronto to more than 40 countries worldwide)._
*One Degree: ThinData has transitioned from its roots as a web developer to being one of Canada’s top e-mail marketing service firms. Why did you make the shift?*
Chris: Four years ago, we recognized that marketers (including our own Web clients) needed more advanced tools and strategies to fulfill on the promise of one-to-one/one-to-few marketing programs. Our clients were looking for strategies and technology to profile and engage their Web site visitors. They needed more than email deployment software, they needed sophisticated marketing tools and strategies. That’s where we saw the market gap and our opportunity — to bring email technologies and methods that would answer the real needs of Canadian marketers. We married this idea with our experience delivering mission critical solutions and exceptional client service and the result was the new ThinData.
*One Degree: Do you still need to sell corporate Canada on the benefits of e-mail marketing or do they “get it”?*
Chris: They get it. The time when you enter a room needing to convince people of the power of email marketing is long gone. They know it’s measurable, extremely cost effective and a key part of their marketing mix. These days corporate Canada’s focus is on finding a partner like ThinData that has the tools and strategies to get their message through — to actually deliver the results and ROI they know are possible. As a result, we are helping clients to analyze what’s working in their current campaigns and educate them on what they can do to improve campaign performance and deliver better results. Canadian marketers are now moving beyond basic metrics such as open rates and click-throughs — they want to see a direct impact from their email campaigns on their business performance.
*One Degree: What techniques have you found the most effective in promoting ThinData?*
Chris: We concentrate on our clients. The more we help them to succeed, the more referral business we gain from marketers who tell their peers about ThinData. In a maturing industry with a few dominant players, the company in our industry that delivers great results, flawless execution and an enjoyable client experience will be the company that wins the greatest market share. The email business in Canada is now about winning existing business away from your competitors — which means in the long-term performance and results will rule the day.
*One Degree: At a recent AIMS event you talked about the heating up of the industry. As a survivor of the first boom and bust cycle in web marketing, do you think history will repeat itself or did we learn our lesson the first time?*
Chris: Things are definitely heating up. Marketers are returning their focus and budgets to Interactive and new investment in our industry is strong. But there are two key differences in 2005. First, Canadian marketers know how to ask the right questions about the projects and companies they are investing in and they are squarely focused on measuring results. The lessons of the first boom/bust cycle (where hype outplayed results) in Web marketing are fresh in everyone’s minds. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, there are now some fantastic Canadian Interactive companies who have survived the collapse, learned their own lessons, and (although they probably didn’t feel like it at the time) are stronger and more focused on measurable results because of that experience.
*One Degree: Some say that spam filters and inbox overload are conspiring to make e-mail marketing ineffective. Assuming you disagree, how do you counter this argument?*
Chris: Email marketing remains incredibly effective, if you take a strategic approach to your campaigns. If you want to grab a do-it-yourself package and blast away without consideration for inbox overload or spam-filters, then you’re lost. However, if you’re willing to plan a thoughtful campaign and develop real email strategies and content… if you’re willing to compete for people’s attention in their inbox, email can make a dramatic positive impact on your business. That’s where we see the opportunity in 2005 and beyond, empowering Canadian corporations to make email work.