Grey eMMetrics Gains iDine E-Mail Account

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Grey eMMetrics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Grey Direct, has been named to handle e-mail marketing for Transmedia Network Inc.'s iDine dining rewards program.


The New York agency will work on strategy and create campaigns that include e-mail newsletters and special offers, tasks previously handled inhouse. Responsys.com, Palo Alto, CA, was the other candidate considered for the yearlong assignment.


"This is not their first e-mail [effort], but the e-mail campaigns they've done in the past have not been anywhere near as sophisticated," said Jeanniey Mullen, vice president at Grey Direct and managing director at Grey eMMetrics. "They were done inhouse and without a whole lot of personalization and tracking, and we're able to identify the results of it."


IDine Prime, as the service is called, is the online variant of the Transmedia Card, which offered cardholders 20 percent discounts at restaurants signed up with Transmedia.


To participate, consumers must register with a credit card on the site, www.idine.com. Restaurants that are part of the iDine program then automatically recognize the consumer as an iDine member. IDine members who eat at these restaurants are offered a 20 percent discount on their total bill.


"A lot of people in this program are businesspeople, because they entertain a lot," Mullen said. "A lot of foodies, or food connoisseurs, use it, too."


Grey eMMetrics was brought in to increase usage of the iDine service and to jump-start traffic to these restaurants through personalized communications with the target audience.


"We were engaged to do strategic planning and development for e-mail marketing that will generate business to restaurants during nonpeak hours, maintain customer loyalty and increase program usage," Mullen said.


Transmedia, Chicago, expects Grey eMMetrics' involvement to ramp up activity among customers.


"Certainly, in our business, there are two major things that our members need to do and like to do, which is they like to dine in their general metro area and they like to know which restaurants are new in their area," said Brian Hall, vice president of marketing at Transmedia.


"So we think, with our e-mail program that we're implementing, that we have a more accurate and more timely way that we can get information in raw numbers. In the past, we primarily printed directories that came out quarterly, interspersed with printed and mailed out newsletters."


Grey eMMetrics already has initiated a first e-mail push to more than 60,000 members. Highly targeted, the e-mail newsletters are the net result of opt-in data collected from members who volunteered to complete 65 fields of information.


The online newsletter suggests eight restaurants closest to the iDine customer's ZIP code or eateries where they previously have dined.


"We're going to be doing a newsletter with them on an ongoing basis, but right now we're analyzing the results from this campaign to understand initially how well it was received by the people who provided the e-mail addresses, but more importantly, the benefit the company received," Mullen said.


A key prong of the agency's strategy is to pick out the best customers.


"It is to identify active participants and do behavior modification that increases the number of times they dine at the places that they dine, in a way that benefits both the consumer as well as the restaurants," Mullen said.


Grey Direct in the summer launched eMMetrics, a platform designed to integrate all e-mail-related touch points with offline marketing efforts.


Working with vendors, the platform offers results in real time, backed by statistics of 60 percent response rates in 48 hours to e-mails, as opposed to traditional direct mail, which takes at least three weeks and has an average response of 1 percent to 2 percent, Grey officials said.


Clients of Grey eMMetrics include Internet telephony provider deltathree.com; California's City National Bank; W Hotel; and RentPort.com, which reports rental payment history to credit bureaus and offers rewards for on-time payments by tenants.


The debut of eMMetrics marked a turning point in Grey Direct's strategy for growth in an increasingly digital environment. The first step was the summer hiring of Mullen, who spent nearly eight years developing and working on retailer JCPenney's Internet and e-mail-related programs.


Grey's expertise in the e-mail area, backed by experience in traditional direct marketing, played a key role in its selection as e-mail marketing shop for Transmedia.


"They do have good experience in providing a high level of personalization to the e-mails, which again is very important for our member base, because a member in San Francisco has very different informational needs than a member in South Florida," Transmedia's Hall said.
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