Neiman, Limited give e-mail tips

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NEW YORK - Testing and segmenting e-mail marketing campaigns has led to increased conversions for Neiman Marcus, 1-800-Flowers.com and Limited Brands.

The multichannel retailers shared their tactics for executing e-mail marketing campaigns at last week's CheetahMail Client Summit at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square. Catherine Davis, director of brand marketing at Neiman Marcus online and catalog and BergdorfGoodman.com, frequently tests to measure conversion and effectiveness of e-mail over time.

"We test to make sure that customers can keep up with our e-mail," Ms Davis said. "We send e-mails daily for most of our brands and this has had a positive impact on sales. We have also experienced unsubscribes, but over time this has weighed out as a positive, because we don't want to be sending to people that don't want to receive."

Neiman Marcus has also experienced sales from a re-marketing strategy. Though the volume is not large, according to Ms. Davis, the conversions are high when sending abandoned-shopping-cart messaging.

For 1-800-Flowers.com, which sends lots of e-mail messages around the holidays when it does most of its business, segmentation is a way to make the message more meaningful.

"We segment 10 to 100 times for every e-mail campaign," said Aaron Cano, vice president of customer knowledge at 1-800-Flowers.com. "We segment based on information that our customers give us during registration and purchase behavior. We send reminders for birthdays and holidays and then just everyday offers. Half of our business takes place in the same day or by the next day, and e-mail spurs a lot of that."

While 1-800-Flowers.com will sometimes share customer information from one brand across its entire database, Limited Brands keeps this information private within each of its brands, such as Bath and Body Works and Victoria's Secret, especially considering the size of its list.

"Deliverability is No. 1 for us and we want to make sure we get in the inbox with the file size that we have," said Scott Rich, Internet marketing manager at Limitedbrands. "We have to segment out which portion of the list we segment out to."

The summit also featured presentations by leading industry analysts. In her talk, "What Online Marketers Can Do to Drive Customer Centricity," Elana Andersen, vice president and research director at Forrester Research addressed the issue how to communicate with a jaded consumer in a world bombarded with marketing messages. According to Mr. Andersen, marketers must send relevant messaging and align itself with the customer purchase path through various channels.

"We now have to understand a lot more about consumers to get their attention, but the good news is that the new technologies are useable," Ms. Andersen said. "These channels are interactive and let us create a dialog and this gives us a better understanding of our customer."

David Daniels, at vice president and research director of JupiterResearch agreed. In his speech, "State of the Industry," he said that an important factor to running a successful e-mail marketing campaign is through relevance. A good step to relevance is to keep up to date on customer behavior through testing.

"Testing is key to any e-mail marketing campaign," he said. "It is important to look at these tests to increase your customer data and increase relevance to your customer."

Matt Seeley, CEO of Cheetahmail and Fred Lindbergh, chief technology officer at Cheetahmail, presented Cheetahmail's roadmap for the coming year, which includes a new Web 2.0 version of its e-mail platform that is expected to be released in early 2008.

The platform addresses the issues of relevance and segmentation by its ability to deal with larger amounts of data. The platform's new functionalities includes deeper analysis tools, new drag and drop features and the ability to deal with Web 2.0 design components like AJAX and CSS.

Other news in the Cheetahmail plan includes global expansion. Cheetahmail recently acquired French e-mail marketing Emailing Solution for European expansion and the e-mail vendor plans to be involved in Asia in some capacity by 2008.

This vision comes with a new name, as Cheetahmail is taking on the umbrella name Experian Digital. This new name includes a wider brand with more products.

"It brings us a connection to this trusted partner throughout the world," Mr. Seeley said. "We're not going away. We're still Cheetahmail. We're just expanding to increase our value offer."

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