Better E-Mail Marketing Is Latest Step in Christianbook's Site Upgrade

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With an upgrade of its placement on search engines bringing increased traffic to the site, prepares to launch a new e-mail system next month as the next step in a multiphase marketing makeover.

"We've found our e-mail marketing to be successful, but we're always looking for ways to be more efficient," said Rita Cavicchio-Christie, vice president at, the online division of Christian Book Distributors, a marketer of religious books, paintings and other items.

Christianbook will integrate a program called Excedia from Inceptor, an online marketing solutions firm, into its existing e-mail system. The site expects the e-mail upgrade will let it better integrate its back-end systems into marketing efforts. Improvements will include targeting of offers based on customers' past purchases. Under Christianbook's current e-mail system, past purchases can be matched to targeted offers only manually.

Christianbook, Peabody, MA, began using Excedia about a year ago after deciding it needed to improve its online marketing capabilities. The site hired Inceptor to help it implement a marketing plan.

The first step was to raise Christianbook's visibility on search engines, Cavicchio-Christie said. "We said to ourselves, 'one of the places that people are not finding us is through search engines,' We couldn't really control the search engine placement the way we wanted to."

The site had been using one employee to add the company's name to search engines, and it listed the site under only one key word -- Christianbook.

With Excedia, Christianbook could feed many more product names to search engines. As a result, the site noticed a 52 percent increase in the number of visitors it pulled from search engines. Cavicchio-Christie did not have exact figures on how many of those visitors bought products, but she said a "healthy, double-digit" percentage rise in sales accompanied the increase in site traffic.

A growing number of companies are outsourcing search engine placement, said Chuck McCullough, owner of, San Antonio, a Web consulting company.

"Outsourcing this task to someone that has a track record of keeping customers at or near the top for prolonged periods of time can definitely be worth the expense," he said.

Phases of the marketing plan to roll out in the coming months are designed to give Christianbook more control of a visitor's path through its Web site, helping the marketer more efficiently track the value of a campaign.

In related news, Christian Book Distributors acquired for $800,000 The Home School, a subsidiary of book manufacturer and publisher Courier Corp., North Chelmsford, MA. The Home School is a direct marketer of educational materials to home-schooling families.

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