John Deere gears up for "First to Know" e-mails

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Farming retailer John Deere is gearing up its annual "First to Know" e-mail questionnaire to let customers sign up for which e-mails they like to receive.

The retailer sends out its "First to Know" e-mails once a year to its 150,000-person list to let customers pick and choose which products they are in the market to buy. Customers are then e-mailed offers for products that they have expressed interest in and can take these e-mails directly to a dealer.

"Instead of assuming that customers want what we think they want, we are going directly to the farmers themselves," said Steve Brubaker, e-business manager at John Deere Credit. "This is a win, win, win. It's a win for the customer, a win for the dealer and a win for the company."

Customers who sign up for the promotion are offered previews, exclusive discounts and financing offers on the products. This gives John Deere an opportunity to send relevant marketing messages on tractors and the like - most farmers are in the market to buy a new tractor every three years.

"Farmers are technologically advanced, and it is common to have a computer on the farm," Brubaker added. "We use e-mail because we can target our messaging to where the customer is, on the computer."

The amount of e-mails sent out to a customer throughout the year is determined to their response to this survey. John Deere also sends direct mail pieces, and tends to have higher results when using a multichannel marketing program.

The retailer is working with e-mail marketing firm Responsys, and is using the ESP's new Interact Team tool as a part of its control center. The new tool lets users centralize mailing actions in one place, across departments.

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