E-Mail Switch Saves Money, Time for Cincinnati Bell

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Moving its e-mail marketing in-house saved Cincinnati Bell $120,000 in the first four months since the company started using ExactTarget e-mail marketing software in July, the telecommunications provider said.


"We were trying to overcome the excessive costs and turnaround time of using an outside agency to create and execute e-mail campaigns," said Jane Weiler, Internet marketing manager at Cincinnati Bell.


The name of the agency previously working on e-mail campaigns was not disclosed.


A small group now handles creative and technical functions as Cincinnati Bell uses e-mail to compete in the volatile telecom market. Weiler, who does not have a technical background, and a database specialist and IT staff member easily undertake e-mail design and functions like list segmentation. The cost to switch was not high, the company said.


Cincinnati Bell is among 1,500 ExactTarget clients worldwide. Each of these marketers uses ExactTarget's point-and-click tools to create HTML e-mails and templates. The Indianapolis-based vendor also handles e-mail delivery through a bank of servers.


Essentially, ExactTarget's solution lets Cincinnati Bell identify and market to customers by age, demographics and products used. E-mail content is dynamically altered based on the customer profile.


"E-mail marketing offers one-to-one communication opportunities that are not available with direct mail, as well as granular list segmentation," Weiler said. "It is also considerably less expensive than direct mail."


The company's e-mail program, though not as vast as some fellow telecom marketers', is interesting.


For example, e-mails go to Cincinnati Bell customers who registered to see their accounts online. The missives are segmented by customer age, demographics and product used -- long distance, wireless telephone service, high-speed Internet access, home and business security services or value-adds like conference calling.


An average of two e-mails are sent monthly to different segments. Each type of e-mail drops to 10,000 to 12,000 customers. The company's current e-mail file has nearly 100,000 names.


"Most e-mails ask customers to upgrade a service or purchase a new service," Weiler said.


One urges customers to upgrade from dialup to its ZoomTown high-speed Internet service. Another recommends a new home security system.


A recent campaign rewarded customers for updating their profiles with $10 discount coupons for purchases at Cincinnati Bell retail stores in its network across Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.


The e-mails also note the site at www.cincinnatibell.com. Customers are encouraged to receive, view and pay their bills online.


From a marketing standpoint, e-mails backed by ExactTarget software help the telecom firm upsell, cross-sell, introduce products and retain customers.


"This is an effort to maintain and increase market share, particularly in the areas of wireless calling and high-speed Internet services where competition is fierce," Weiler said. "There is a high customer turnover rate caused by intense competition in the telecommunications industry. Churn is one of the most difficult challenges faced by telecom providers."


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