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Engaging customers with Experian's permission-based CheetahMail

Experian is the only company in India to introduce permission based email marketing, which lets you choose your subject line, omit dangerous content, etc.

Sohini Sen | Mumbai | September 26, 2013

At a time when digital is probably becoming the most important marketing medium for any company or brand, email marketing is still catching up. While email marketing in its most basic stage has existed in India for quite some time, it is Experian’s permission-based email marketing platform – CheetahMail – that is making new headway in the digital world. CheetahMail was launched in December 2010 and has already signed on clients such as Thomas Cook (India),  Cox & Kings, Ezeego, Star CJ and BabyOye among others.

CheetahMail enables brands to connect with their customers via precise, targeted messages and promotions. How they do it is simple: through emails sent to customers who have shown interest and agreed to being emailed. CheetahMail’s access to a global roster of clients, working across industry segments and verticals, empowers its clientele to design and deploy highly effective email marketing programmes and deliver good return on investment (ROI).

Naveen Bachwani

The main factor in this type of marketing is obviously permission. "If you have a valid customer but he doesn't give you permission to email him, then it is as good as not having him in your mailing list. After these two things are taken care of, the brand must learn about the customer – what he likes, what segment he belongs to, what his interests are or about his behaviour. The client does this part. Based on what a customer is doing on the client's website, and also on his email behaviour, my product will allow them to define a segment and a message that goes to that segment. The product will also track how it went through," explained Naveen Bachwani, Head of Experian Marketing Services.

The B-to-B-to-C company helps by giving clients ideas about email. Their clients include institutions, organisations, websites, portals, especially from the travel and ecommerce space. Many a time when marketing emails land up in spam, CheetahMail helps to study the reason for that. Sometimes this can be the subject line. By allowing subject line testing, CheetahMail increases the chances of the mail getting delivered to the inbox.

What sets it apart also is the fact that it tracks the email even after it has been delivered. The key matrix that they look at, at this stage, include how long did someone take to open it, did they click something on it, did they actually buy anything from the site, etc. All this data are used to create the message for the next segment, thereby increasing chances of success even more.

Content validation is another strong point that Experian has. The company maintains a global directory of words which can land your email in the spam folder. This type of advanced scheduling and advanced segmentation helps CheetahMail attain more eyeballs in terms of emails.

Experian Marketing Services also helps to define the benchmark. Sometimes just a month-on-month increase in the email open rate looks good, but Experian will be able to tell the client what the benchmark is for the client's category in his vertical. is one such client. When Harsh Roongta, CEO of, started using email marketing by himself, he got favourable results. He decided to use other’s database as well. However, that backfired.

"A cheap marketer becomes costly, if he doesn't know his work. With Experian Marketing I have been able to scale up the business. From our all-time low of 600,000 customers we are now at around 1.5 million. This is still far away from our highest of 2.3 million, but I think we can grow to 75 per cent of our base through this kind of marketing," felt Roongta.

"Experian's experience also helps in distinguishing between the target audience. If a travel portal wants to send out an email talking about the new destinations they are offering tours to, they can send one common email to everyone. Or with the help of CheetahMail, they can send an email with the main creative of a scenic spot to the women in the mailing list, and another set of mails with the creative of an adventure sport activity to the men in the list. The rest of the email can remain the same. This way, we help save you creative costs to a large extent," explained Bachwani.

According to Bachwani, the challenges this format of marketing has been facing in India is getting the permission. SMS services from Experian are available worldwide. But in India SMS permissions are also a problem.

"We can see that marketers, by and large, do not appreciate that individuals have to give us the permission for the email. The laws around cyber protection are also not evolved," pointed out Bachwani.

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