Atkins launches sampling campaign to grow e-mail database

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Weight management program and food company Atkins Nutritionals has launched a sampling campaign to grow the company's e-mail and direct mail database.

The multimillion dollar campaign includes TV, print and online advertising, all of which drive consumers to the redesigned Atkins.com. Once on site, users can enter their name, e-mail address and home address, to which Atkins will send three free nutrition bars, a carb-counter book and a quick-start guide to the Atkins program. The redesigned Web site went live December 29.

Allen Silkin, director of marketing at Atkins, said the initiative's goal is to add about 350,000 registrants to its database this month by giving away about one million bars. Atkins' database now has 2.3 million members.

“This is the start of diet season, so we wanted to 'incentivize' new customers to join,” Silkin explained. “We also want to promote Atkins' free weight loss program and online tools, so users can achieve the healthy weight they're looking for.”

Atkins is also reaching out to consumers through Facebook and Twitter. On January 7, the company will host a Tweet chat with Colette Heimowitz, Atkins' VP of nutrition and education.

Silkin explained that Atkins will use the mailing addresses garnered from the site to send other forms of direct mail, like coupons, throughout the year. That initiative will occur with Atkins' release of new bar flavors in 2010.

He added that the online, print and TV ads will likely go dark next month and then re-emerge in March and April in time for people to get ready for spring. “Many people at that time start thinking about summer and how they want to look good in their bikinis,” he said.

Atkins has approximately a 60% female audience, according to Silkin.

He said Atkins distributed online ads through ad network buys, including one on Wal-Mart's homepage. Gotham Direct is handling all digital online media buying. The agency did not immediately respond to inquiries.

The effort is Atkins' first with e-mail marketing firm Silverpop, which is also helping the company change its newsletter's frequency from monthly to weekly. Previously the company's e-mail marketing was done in house.

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