Storymail Enters Rich-Media E-mail Fray

San Francisco—With clickthrough rates on banner ads hovering around .3 percent, many online marketers are turning to e-mail as a viable outlet for their ad messages.

A growing number of interactive marketing companies are adding mul timedia capabilities to e-mail, including Los Gatos, Calif.-based Storymail, which today launched its proprietary rich-media e-mail product.

Called “stories,” Storymail’s product lets advertisers embed transactional opportunities into rich-media e-mails. The licensing fee for Storymail software ranges from $35,000-250,000, depending on the size of each project and the level of customization.

Eidos, an interactive gaming company, and M&M/Mars have already signed up for the product’s pilot test, currently under way.

According to Eric Sternberg, Story mail vp of marketing, the company has targeted e-commerce clients because of the product’s single-click transactional oppor tunities within the e-mail stories.

Shar Van Boskirk, an analyst at Forrester Research, said the Storymail product is a good one, but added that the key to its success would be delivering rich-media e-mail “to the right consumer at the right time.”

Storymail president and CEO Dave Saxby, a former general manager at IBM and co-founder of Altera Software, said Storymail’s creative mix of content and commerce should help marketers reach their targets.

E-mail stories can contain any type of multimedia, in cluding video, audio and interactive order or registration forms. Sternberg, a veteran of 3Com Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., said Storymail is seeking to partner with ad agencies and channel partners in the future.

Storymail’s e-mail stories can be supported on a variety of platforms, including Windows and Apple OS, as well as mobile devices such as PDAs and wireless phones. The e-mails can be accessed over any Internet connection speed and have a 100 percent reach across all e-mail serving networks, according to Saxby.