OurHouse.com Does Some Database Spring Cleaning

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After mining its database, home and hardware e-commerce site OurHouse.com discovered its target demographic wasn't what it thought it was. As a result, it is fine-tuning its marketing efforts to reflect this new information.

The site identified its target audience as the "do-it-yourself" online shopper when it launched in December, but discovered that the customers making the most purchases were interested in kitchen appliances and housewares.

"We had a sense of what we thought our target segment would be before we launched the site. We've made adjustments as a result of what we learned," said Julie Hayes, vice president of consumer insight and personalization at OurHouse.com, Evanston, IL.

Personify Inc., a company that offers data profiling and marketing analysis software products, helped the company identify its primary and secondary audiences as well as three other consumer categories.

All messaging and advertising offers are now delivered to consumers identified as belonging to one of the site's five key customer categories. "We have the ability to show different people different content," said Hayes. "Now we can identify fairly quickly which kind of person they are."

More importantly, the site will reach its primary audience (the people opening their wallets), with carefully targeted messaging on its home page.

"We separated the buyers to see how they're using the site. The things they are interested in are the things you want to invest your dollars in as you build up the site," said Hayes. "It turned out that there were more women than men that have been buying on our site. Understanding what those women are after has become a high priority for us."

The site will work with Personify next month to deliver highly targeted e-mails to its list of 100,000 registered users. "The newsletter is a very important part of driving repeat purchase and retention of customers," said Hayes. "The response rate goes up dramatically when you start to personalize it."

For example, do-it-yourselfers will receive content on how to install a sink. The buy-it-yourselfers will get information on which sink to buy and who can install it for them. In the past, the site had only sent out one blanket e-mail newsletter with the same content.

The offers, such as discounts on select items, will also be targeted. These offers should be healthy as Hayes said, "the more aggressive the offer, the more successful it is. More aggressive offers generate higher response rates and lower the cost of acquiring the customer."

Next month, the site will take what it had learned online and combine it with offline focus groups. "We're going to put together focus groups of people fall into [the site's different customer categories] and really get to know them better," said Hayes.

Personify Inc., San Francisco, announced 25 new customers on Friday, including Nordstrom, RealEstate.com, Williams-Sonoma and L.L. Bean.

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