Jenny Craig Puts Weight Behind E-Mail

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E-mail marketing is getting quite a workout this year at Jenny Craig Inc.


An automated incentive program in April will invite lapsed members or prospects to sign up for Jenny Craig's weight-management programs. The e-mails will tout packages starting from $49 for a trial period to $399 for life memberships at Jenny Craig weight-loss centers.


"We think this has been a very effective tool, and it allows us to talk directly to people," said Doug Fisher, vice president of franchise development at Jenny Craig, Carlsbad, CA.


The company will e-mail special offers, print-at-home coupons, reduced joining fees or trial memberships. Another option is a food-purchase discount for a week. The e-mails will be segmented and tailored to the individual's preferences and actions and choreographed accordingly in an automated marketing engine.


All e-mails will direct consumers to landing pages on jennycraig.com.


Jenny Craig will use the Postpublisher e-mail technology platform from online relationship marketing firm Postfuture Inc., Richardson, TX. As the e-mail vendor, Postfuture will offer strategy consulting, message design and publishing, e-mail broadcast and tracking, viral marketing, list management and polling.


The incentive effort follows an automated encouragement and reminder program begun in January. The customized e-mail reminds them of their appointments for weight-loss management sessions with Jenny Craig consultants.


Postfuture also will dynamically embed the individual's identity in the offer at the time of printing the coupons. This way the coupons are secured without downloading a plug-in. This simplifies the user experience and guards against fraud.


Consumers will be encouraged to visit one of 525 Jenny Craig centers nationwide for one-on-one sessions with consultants. This is a key point of difference with, say, Weight Watchers International's group meetings.


"This e-mail program sort of extends this personal consultation," said Richard Merrick, president/CEO of Postfuture. "It becomes an extension of the one-to-one consultation in the centers and extends it to the individual's inbox online."


Like many marketers, Jenny Craig uses various media to drum up business. That includes ads on TV and radio, with support from print, mail and online.


Plans now call for more emphasis on direct marketing, especially as consumer response to outbound e-mail is encouraging. It is claimed that the Jenny Craig e-mail list -- said to be 200,000 to 400,000 names -- has grown since the site relaunched Dec. 26.


"We're seeing response rates that are higher than the average," Fisher said. "As we've begun to do more e-mailing, we're seeing response rates better or equal to our direct mail. And not only are we seeing some better response, but clearly it's more efficient cost-wise and we've more tracking ability with e-mail."


According to Marketing Sherpa, the average click-through rate ranges from 6 percent to 8 percent on house lists, said Chuck Smith, senior vice president of business development at Postfuture.


"Jenny Craig's is three times the industry average," Smith said.


The company also claims a low opt-out rate, though it would not disclose numbers. This means consumers continue to register for offers or newsletters and do not unsubscribe as often.


Besides monthly newsletters, Jenny Craig sends weekly tips, special offers two to three times a month and daily automated encouragement and reminder e-mails to those on the opt-in list.


As for offline DM, Jenny Craig sends mailers 16 to 20 times a year. Those efforts concentrate on retention and building personal relationships with consumers who have not renewed their commitment.


E-mail's use does not mean Jenny Craig will decrease its reliance on hard-copy mail. It will ensure that e-mail creative and offers are tied to mail. The tactics will have the same look and feel of the overall ad campaign of the moment.


"Right now we're testing both mediums and integrating both mediums," said Jon Kosoff, director of marketing at Jenny Craig. "So we're testing what will work best for customers."


Carat Interactive's Los Angeles and San Francisco offices buy online media, and Interactivate in San Diego handles creative. Johnson Ukropina, Irvine, CA, is in charge of offline media and creative.


Founded in 1983, Jenny Craig was public until co-founder Sid Craig and investors Deutsche Bank and ACI Capital took the company private in May 2001. It continues to focus on women in their early 40s who are roughly 40 pounds overweight. They are likely to be college-educated, married with children in households earning annual incomes of more than $70,000.


Though the number of overweight Americans is rising, Jenny Craig still finds it necessary to market through more personalized tactics like e-mail drops. Competition is a factor, but so are entrenched attitudes.


"Retention is a challenge for us," Fisher said. "One of our critical areas is to keep people on the program. Dieting is a huge thing to stick with. The automated encouragement program keeps us connected. The problem people on a diet have is to stay motivated. So these programs keep us connected with them."


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