For the past decade, phrases like Customer Marketing, One-to-One Marketing, and Relationship Marketing have been at the top of the buzz-list in the marketing world. The concept these words convey is simple- the customer should be the center of your marketing program and you should deliver what they want, when they want it. When this is done right, it affects the customer's loyalty and willingness to remain a customer.

The American Marketing Association recently updated their definition of marketingto include language emphasizing the importance of maintaining customer relationships. This comes after nearly twenty years of maintaining their older definition.

Customer relationship management is an effective tool for maintaining and elevating customer satisfaction. E-mail lends itself as a flexible (and cost effective) medium to work towards this goal, and yet most e-mail marketing programs are stuck in the mindset of "blasting" their entire list with offers, instead of crafting targeted mailings. Why is this?

Implementing a Customer Marketing program is hard, that's why. It takes a lot of time, effort, and good communication between various departments that might not always get along. It can be expensive to initiate and requires support from higher authorities.

It's also difficult to realize the long-term implications of Customer Marketing. A single mailing to a million customers or to a list of a select thousand have similar mailing costs, with the latter option costing more to implement. They may even yield similar results. However, the long term returns may be quite different.

Develop a strategy and stick with it. It may be difficult to begin, but the long term benefits are waiting to be reaped.