Health Site Focuses on Target Audience

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SelfCare.com is launching a series of online and offline direct marketing campaigns aimed at its main demographic of women age 25 to 54 -- a far cry from the health and wellness merchant's $12 million print, television and radio branding blitz in the fourth quarter of last year.


While the multichannel retailer does intend to launch a fourth quarter television campaign to coordinate with its September Web site relaunch, it will depend on direct marketing to get its message across in the meantime.


E-mail marketing will play a big part in this effort. "We've used a bunch of different mechanisms to acquire customers. The most cost effective has been e-mail," said Andrea Alfano vice president of marketing for SelfCare.com, Emeryville, CA.


The site has used lists from MyPoints.com and PostMasterDirect while also collecting e-mail addresses at health-related events like the upcoming Sacramento Wellness Festival on May 6. The site collects between 1,000 and 5,000 addresses per show depending on attendance, according to Alfano. It currently has 115,000 registered users.


For its retention efforts, the site has been testing e-mail offers that announce new features while focusing on health and fitness education.


To launch its health and wellness bookstore this month, it unveiled its Book Blitz e-mail campaign. An e-mail offer of 75 percent off health and wellness books went out to one-third of the site's member database. An offer of 33 percent off and 25 percent off also was sent out. "We were trying to test segments to see where we would get the response," said Alfano. "Surprisingly, 33 percent worked the best."


To promote its Healthy Woman Center, it offered a monthly breast exam reminder. Within four weeks, 1,650 people signed up for the service.


Monthly e-mail newsletters offering 25 topics and special promotions are available at the site.


However, special offers alone won't serve as a point of differentiation in the health and fitness space, said Alfano. "Everyone in this space is constantly promoting free offers. Our philosophy is to use advice and tools to bring added value to our customers."


Offline, the site is leveraging its 17-year-old SelfCare Catalog. The catalog mails to more than 1 million customers, more than half of whom have made purchases within the past year. Pages two and three of the catalog prompt consumers to go online to access SelfCare.com's 14,000 products and health tools, such as its weight management diary.


To encourage inexperienced Internet users to visit the site, late this month the site mailed an instructional guide explaining how to order online to catalog recipients and members of other lists -- hitting more than 1 million consumers. "Our impression is a lot of people who buy from the catalogs are fairly unsophisticated online," said Alfano.


The site is also launching the SelfCare Show on ValueVision Cable Television in July. It will be an educational program about health and wellness featuring a celebrity spokesperson. Simultaneous Webcasts are in the plans.


To strike a personal chord with mothers across the country, a contest was placed on the site this month asking moms to contribute their funniest Mothers' Day stories and unforgettable gifts. The grand prizewinner will receive a $1,000 shopping spree on SelfCare.com with a personal shopper. The second prize winner will receive $500, and 50 third prize winners will receive an Essential Elements Gift Basket of lotions.


All participants received an offer of 25 percent off their next SelfCare.com purchase. The contest was promoted through e-mail, the site's newsletters and banners on affiliate sites.
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