Founded in 1998, Cooking.com is an ecommerce site that provides kitchenware, as well as content such as recipes and interactive forums. Now, Cooking.com is also a powered-by-solution for 13 other website properties, including the Food Network Store, Betty Crocker Store, Rachael Ray Store, and Marley Coffee. Cooking.com is responsible for the warehousing, ecommerce marketing efforts, and handling of customer service for those companies that don't have the logistics or infrastructure to do so themselves.
As Cooking.com acquired more and more properties, it became more and more difficult to manage its email marketing and to deploy as many emails as it needed to in an efficient manner. Emails were sent using an in-house email system that was just not scalable to the growth of the company. "There was the need [for] an enterprise email system that could handle not only the volume, but also the multiple organizations," says Matt Bunn, director of email marketing for Cooking.com.
Vendor of Choice: Strongmail
StrongMail Systems, Inc. offers online solutions for enterprise email and social media marketing, which are designed to help other companies boost their performance, productivity, and overall revenue. It provides a variety
of products and services to help companies reach a specifically targeted audience with the right information at the right time. StrongMail allows its customers to choose from a fully hosted solution or an in-house server solution.
The Problem in Depth
For a company that controls 14 online ecommerce properties, email marketing was a struggle in terms of targeting a relevant audience as well as making sure the appropriate emails were deployed at the right time. With Cooking.com's own email system, the process was long, and it involved many people throughout the company.
"To deploy multiple properties before took a lot of effort [from] our internal staff, specifically from our tech team, to be able to do those and they had to be queued," says Bunn.
Events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday made it even more crucial for Cooking.com to be able to reach its customers at precisely the right time. On days when companies all over the country are pushing their products, especially online, Cooking.com needed to be able to stand out to customers at the appropriate time of the day.
"On Cyber Monday, you want to be in the inbox around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. when people are just getting into work and finishing their coffee," Bunn says.
Cooking.com had no control over what time an email would reach a specific customer. The time of email deployment and delivery were one and the same, even if that was not desired by the company or the customer. As the company grew, it found more and more flaws in its own system and found it needed a more concise and productive solution.
"Also, I think we realized that there wasn't a core competency inside to be able to build an email service provider and manage it as the technology was changing," says Bunn.