ExactTarget eMarketing Summit Offers Case Studies, Tips

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NEW YORK -- What people read -- and particularly changes in their reading behavior -- are leading indicators for future purchasing. People who never read auto magazines, for instance, may read them avidly in the months before purchasing a car. That was one of the dozens of nuggets picked up by a packed room of marketers at the New York presentation of ExactTarget's traveling seminar eMarketing Excellence Summit yesterday.

In a case study of insurance giant Liberty Mutual, ExactTarget director of e-marketing strategy Joel Book focused on how large enterprises that sell through dealers and agents control their enterprise-wide e-mail efforts and maintain appropriate relationships with all constituent groups without compromising their brand or violating e-mail regulations.

According to Book, Liberty Mutual solved this conundrum by centralized management of all e-mailings. As a result, customer and other groups receive personalized and relevant e-mails from their agents, but none of the communications is created by the individual agents.

The seminar concluded with a series of eight success tips that were illustrated by examples from a variety of marketers, including Scott Lawn Care, Wild Birds Unlimited, Sherwin-Williams, music marketer Jambase, Williams Kestler Financial and Home Depot. The tips covered many direct marketing tenets such as relevance, frequency, data interpretation, dialogue management, technology integration and testing.

In the area of testing, Book ranked subject and center line testing, list segmentation, body text, offer, day or time of day sent, call to action and discounts among the most important variables to test.

"Direct marketers will recognize a lot of old friends," he said, adding that ExactTarget usually does not send e-mails on Mondays or Fridays or before 11 a.m. because those are when people review the 150 e-mails in their inboxes.

Book also urged marketers to place heavy stress on Web and multichannel analytics. Web analytics, he said, tells you who's coming to your site, how they are proceeding through the conversion tunnel and what campaigns are driving them to your site -- e-mail, Web site, search, print, trade shows or personal contacts.

The seminar ended with a discussion of deliverability and open rates. Most marketers have never done a deliverability audit, it was noted, while only 40 percent to 60 percent of e-mails get opened. Suggestions to avoid spam filters and improve deliverability included avoiding all capital letters in subject lines, avoiding extensive use of dollar signs, avoiding bright colors and large fonts, looking like a newsletter, limiting message size to 20K-50K, removing spam seeds and sending e-mails through a private IP rather than a public one.

To raise the open rate, marketers were advised to reduce frequency, improve permission level, improve their subject lines, preview the window look and feel and match content to known customer needs.

ExactTarget's next two summits take place July 26 in Columbus, OH, and July 28 in Atlanta, followed by Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco in August.

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