Strategizing e-mail with testing and segmentation: eTail panel

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PALM DESERT, CA - Using dynamic e-mail is key to creating a customized virtual store for customers, said Steve Druckman, chief marketing officer at online grocery store FreshDirect, at eTail's e-mail marketing day on Tuesday.

In the morning's panel discussion, "Determining the Optimal Segmentation Strategy to Increase Deliverability of Your E-mail Campaign," Mr. Druckman addressed a strategic plan for segmentation.

"It is important to incorporate non-purchase data into a customer's profile, such as survey responses, browse behavior and customer service phone call history," he said. "Incorporating these details will give you a full understanding of your customer."

These customer profiles should be updated on a regular basis to keep the customer's lifecycle current. Once a marketer has a better understanding of the customer, then consistent testing should be applied to create a dialog with the customer.

Ellen Duffie-Fritz, director of online marketing at Circuit City agreed that testing is key. She said the segmenting begins with a basic segmentation of a list based on 4 to 6 categories. Then these segments should be tested with various targeted e-mails. With these results, marketers can figure out whether the e-mail is working and if the target population is interested in the message.

E-mails should be relevant to the target population. For example, offering a coupon for groceries that a consumer has purchased previously or a free shipping offer on an upsell item is a good way to engage a customer and encourage them to buy, according to the panel.

In addition to sending targeted messages to the right customer, it is important to recognize the customer's relationship with the store. Higher offers should be included in e-mails for lapsed customers to encourage the customer to return.

Also, good creative is key, and making sure that the various departments like marketing and IT are working together.

According to the panel, the key to implementing an e-mail marketing campaign is based in consistent testing and customization.

"Highly customized e-mails with smart subject lines and relevant content are the way to get customers to open your e-mails," Ms. Duffie-Fritz said. "And these should be sent and measured on a regular basis."

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