The relevance factor

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The relevance factor
The relevance factor

Today's customers are more knowledgeable and discerning than ever. They are highly connected, well-informed of their options and willing to receive offers through a variety of media, whether it is e-mail, television, radio, print, catalog or mobile. For marketers, that willingness presents an opportunity to build lasting, meaningful and valuable relationships with their customers. The key is simple: Be relevant.

Fortunately, there are many tools available today that allow marketers to create highly personalized and relevant messages. In the realm of e-mail marketing, this means going beyond the traditional boundary of incorporating basic demographic data in marketing campaigns, and instead, pursuing deeper customer connections via psychographic, transactional and preference center data.

One example of marketers putting this process into action is Borders, a CheetahMail client and retailer of books, music and movies. Borders drives relevance through the use of dynamic content capabilities, sending regular e-mails customized by the customers themselves. Visitors to Borders' Web site can choose from 32 different book preference categories that make up more than 4 billion possible permutations of one e-mail message. Customers then receive personalized e-mail messages based on their choices.

Likewise, Bass Pro Shops works to drive relevance though the use of a method known as ReMarketing messages. By combining Web analytics data with its current e-mail marketing program, Bass Pro is able to encourage customers to return to its site and complete online purchases that went unfulfilled. For example, if a customer abandons his shopping cart on, he receives an e-mail a week later reminding him of the items he left behind. Bass Pro has seen that ReMarketing messages consistently outperform standard promotional mailings, with higher open rates, click-through rates and, most important, revenue per message.

While such marketers have a wealth of data at their fingertips, others are still working toward obtaining this level of information. Luckily, there are simple tactics for acquiring customer data. For instance, it is possible to collect more information about a customer, such as gender, location or birthday, when he registers on your Web site. Online customer preference centers also can be created, which let individuals tell you exactly what they want, such as sale notifications or new-to-market alerts.

In other cases, marketers have the data they need to be relevant, such as transactional or demographic data, but are not acting on it. An easy yet valuable way to make this data work for your company is to perform tests early and often. VistaPrint, an online printing company, analyzed its transactional records to segment its customers into appropriate value groups, then performed A/B tests to send its best US customers "big ticket" product offers while others received multiple low-end offers. The various testing scenarios gave VistaPrint a winning strategy for maximizing ROI from its e-mail campaigns.

One additional bit of good news is that customers today don't casually abandon their e-mail addresses the way they used to. Nowadays, individuals are often tied to these points of contact as much as they are to their phone numbers. So when a customer provides his e-mail address, manage the relationship with care. Send messages as individualized as your customers and your messages will drive results for years to come.

Ashley Johnston is the senior director of marketing at CheetahMail. Reach her at





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