Alibaba, Chinese E-Commerce Giant, Taps Lyris for E-Mail Marketing (part 1), China Online Marketing, Shanghai, China

Global Presence

The analytical component was a key element for Alibaba, as was Lyris’ already strong international presence, which includes a recent expansion into the UK and experience in Australia and other markets, said Dave Dabbah, director of sales and marketing at Lyris.

“They were looking for a company that understood how e-mail works in the U.S. and the English-speaking world, as well as in its own home market,” Dabbah told the E-Commerce Times, referring to an awareness of how best to deal with governmental restrictions on e-mail, and different rules and attitudes about what constitutes spam.

In addition to driving traffic to the site through e-mail campaigns, Alibaba wants to do a better job of matching content to user. “They want to provide the right piece of content to the end user at the right time,” Dabbah explained. “That means keeping track of actions taken in e-mail campaigns and working to use the data from that to better serve customers.”

China Foothold

The deal is symbolically important because of Alibaba’s size and its hold on the Chinese Internet market, where it also operates the former Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) China. Lyris is also in talks with several organizations in China about establishing re-seller relationships, according to Dabbah, working with consulting firms, advertising firms and others to help establish the Lyris brand through third party relationships.

“At some point, based on how things go, we might make the decision to expand a little heavier into that market,” he added.

One solution may be for firms in China to offer a white-label version of Lyris’ e-mail management solutions, establishing hosted versions of the service. Currently, Lyris offers both an installed version and a hosted software option to its customers.

Alibaba, in which Yahoo owns a 40 percent stake it paid $1 billion for in August of 2005, becomes the latest of about 5,000 customers who use ListManager worldwide, Dabbah said.

Back in the U.S., Lyris this week released a report saying that many ISPs are falsely tagging many legitimate e-mail messages as spam, a reminder that commercial messages often face high hurdles in order to reach their targets.