Firm Revamps E-Mail in Rebranding

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When trade show company Freeman set out to rebrand itself and refocus on customer service about two years ago, it also revamped its e-mail marketing to be more relevant to clients.


Freeman, Dallas, a 77-year-old family and employee-owned company that provides resources for conventions, corporate events and exhibits in North America, has grown from a small contracting company to a large organization. It has branches in 26 U.S. cities and 2005 revenue of $1 billion.


As it underwent a corporate rebranding and restructuring in 2004 that included rolling three organizations into one company known as Freeman, executives also decided to brand its e-mail communication and make it more relevant.


Its 300,000 or so exhibitors were receiving different e-mail messages from some of its 26 branches. In early 2005, Freeman began using technology from e-mail software company ExactTarget, Indianapolis, to develop custom-branded HTML templates now used by Freeman's branch offices.


"This way, exhibitors can receive e-mails that look similar, no matter which branch office sends them," said Chris Baggott, ExactTarget's co-founder and chief marketing officer.


Freeman's e-mails also are more relevant because executives set up a preference page for subscribers opting in to e-mail, about 3,500 so far. Exhibitors and other customers can opt in to receive information on five products and services, such as Freeman's exhibit rental service.


"We did not want to be spamming exhibitors," said Molly Casey, marketing manager for Freeman. "We're providing them with helpful show information and giving them the high points."


Via the e-mails, Freeman is streamlining communication from the exhibitor to the staff person handling a particular event.


"A lot of the big exhibitors exhibit at several different events," Casey said. "It is a way to give them a contact person for that particular show."


Now that the e-mail database system has been implemented in all of Freeman's branch offices, executives want to get into more sophisticated areas of e-mail marketing, including creating dynamic content and using personalization.


"We want to be able to provide more education content, to help exhibitors have a better show, related to the services we provide," Casey said.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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