A special anniversary for EMMOn the 7th July 2000, EMM sends the first paid customer mailing
We are celebrating an anniversary of a special kind: 20 years ago to the day – on 7th July 2000 – AGNITAS E-Marketing Manager (EMM) successfully sent out the first paid customer mailing. AGNITAS was thus not only the first German e-mail marketing provider after the date of its foundation, we also first launched our e-mail marketing software and look back on 20 years of e-mail dispatch with EMM.
About a year after Martin Aschoff founded the company in May 1999, the time had come – the software was fully functional and the first customer had already been found. At that time, e-mail marketing was still really new territory in Germany. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the first mailing sent with EMM had already been sent to 384,722 recipients. The company addCom, later known as Tiscali, was an Internet service provider and therefore had a particularly affine customer base for the medium of e-mail. Nevertheless, addCom was a pioneer in the field of sending emails for marketing purposes, as it was not possible to foresee how the new communication channel would be accepted by customers. Today’s success and the importance of the medium email is partly due to the pioneering spirit of the first customers.
We are therefore particularly pleased that our former client – Mr. Julian Riedlbauer, now partner and head of the globally active tech investment company GP Bullhound – was available for an interview with our CEO Martin Aschoff and gave us a unique insight into his expectations and reasons for this decision.
Interview with our first customerConversation between Martin Aschoff and Julian Riedlbauer
Mr. Riedlbauer, exactly 20 years ago, the first paid mailing was sent with our software and you, as a client, were a pioneer in email marketing. What made you take this step and conquer “new territory”?
On the one hand, my own IT and technology background makes me very interested in electronic communication. On the other hand, I was interested in how our recipients would react to this form of advertising.
Since e-mail marketing was still in its very early stages in Germany at the time, I had a well-founded hope that our campaigns would receive the attention they deserved.
Were you concerned at the time about how people would accept a mailing and how they might react to it?
What feelings did you have about the decision?
No, I wasn’t worried. The company addCom (later Tiscali), for which I worked at that time, was an internet service provider. Therefore, we expected our customers to have a high affinity for e-mail.
We also sent e-mails in HTML format right from the start, which was completely new at the time and surprised customers in a positive way. First and foremost I was curious, especially since customer reactions such as openings, clicks and unsubscriptions could be measured exactly. No other medium offered this.
What hopes did you have for the mailing and were your expectations fulfilled?
The hope was to establish a cost-effective and interactive new communication channel to our customers and thus to establish more intensive contact. This has also been confirmed.
The e-mail newsletters sent to customers have contributed greatly to customer loyalty and durability. Even back then, we offered recipients the opportunity to individually select the desired topics for the newsletter. By the way, today, 20 years later, this is still not standard with many providers!
Did you already have an idea at that time of the triumphal march of e-mail in marketing?
Absolutely. I entered the industry in 1991 with the sale of high-speed modems and have since then also accompanied the rise of the medium e-mail. It was absolutely clear to me that e-mail could not be stopped.
At that time AGNITAS was still a small start-up and you were a representative of a successful company. How did you experience working with AGNITAS?
addCom was also a start-up in 2000. Therefore, the cooperation was operationally on an equal footing and characterized by extremely high implementation speed.
Our ideas for features, such as the aforementioned individual compilation of newsletter content, were implemented by AGNITAS within days and could be put into operation by us. This dynamism and the subsequent success were a source of great pleasure for both sides.
If you compare e-mails from back then with e-mails from today, then in our opinion a lot has changed. Is that how you see it? Do you think that the medium is already mature or do you think it has the potential to evolve further?
In essence, email has remained a channel through which I can reach practically any person worldwide. But, of course, many more e-mails have become, and their design is often much more complex. But some providers could put even more work into the content, because although the visuals ensure that the recipient is engaged with the newsletter, the content decides whether she or he stays with it or unsubscribes.
Therefore, I still see potential in the individualisation of the e-mail content to the respective recipient.
But also on the technological side there is still a lot of potential. However, the decisive factor here is that the manufacturers of the e-mail clients are willing to jointly develop and approve new standards. On the sender side, there is certainly great interest and willingness to integrate new possibilities for more interactivity.
We know you are not a futurologist or fortune-teller, but if you make a prediction today, do you think we will still be sending emails in 20 years?
Yes. In the last 20 years I have read about many e-mail killers, but they never had a chance to replace the e-mail. Starting with RSS feeds, Google Wave and messenger services.
Moreover, e-mail is completely independent of applications and providers. Therefore, this medium cannot be displaced like the classic letter post and we will still be reading and sending e-mails in 20 years. But hopefully then with more intelligent e-mail clients!
Finally, do you have any suggestions or wishes you would like to share with AGNITAS?
As a partner of a global Tech M&A consultancy and investor, I am always fascinated by the classic medium-sized companies in Germany, which go their way independently and unwaveringly without an investor.
You rarely see a software that has been on the market for 20 years and is still able to compete with the big players. Therefore I will continue to follow the path of AGNITAS AG with great interest.
Mr. Riedelbauer, I would like to thank you very much for your time and the courage you showed in engaging us.
More information about our interview partner:Julian Riedlbauer
Julian Riedlbauer has been partner and head of the German office of the global M&A advisory and tech investment firm GP Bullhound since 2012. The company advises companies as well as founders and investors in the areas of mergers & acquisitions (M&A) and growth financing. Since its foundation in London in 1999, GP Bullhound now has offices in San Francisco, Stockholm, Berlin, Manchester, Hong Kong, Paris, Madrid and New York.
A lot has happened in 20 years
A lot has changed since July 7, 2000: The user interface has received several redesigns, the range of functions has grown enormously and of course we now have a large number of customers who work with our software and send out newsletters every day. The way it is used has also changed. At that time, it was mainly manually planned and controlled marketing mailings – today a lot of automated processes and campaigns are running. In the past, knowledge of HTML was required to create graphically designed e-mails – and today a good sense of design is enough. And by the way, EMM suppurts further channels for communication.
All this makes us curious about what will be possible in the future. We look forward to the next 20 years together with you!