Q&A: Bill Brand, EVP of programming, marketing and business development, HSN

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Bill Brand
Bill Brand

Bill Brand, HSN's EVP of programming, marketing and business development, discusses DM, e-commerce and CRM.

Q: What types of direct marketing are important to HSN?

A: At HSN.com, which accounts for 35% of our business, we have the ability to customize communication through a very robust email program. You could sign up to receive communications about today's special offer. These are personalized based on the user's experience. More than 50% of our customers participate in our email program.

Q: Does HSN still send out direct mail? 

A: We have two programs: direct and targeted insert. We send out 1.5 million program guides per month. We have a very strong private label credit card program. It offers VIP access and additional incentives throughout the month. We have the ability to choose what we send and who we send it to. If you're a jewelry customer, we've created a tool that has been beyond successful. Jewelry Guide is like a TV Guide for jewelry lovers. It tells customers what's new and when their favorite brands will be on TV.

Q: Does HSN work with 
any marketing agencies? 

A: We do not. Almost all of our creative is done in-house. We have a very strong CRM team helping us to better target the tools we have at our disposal for the strongest ROI. I have been at HSN going on five years and in that time 
we've never worked with
an agency. We have had 
4.6 million customers in 
the past 12 months. In the universe, it's probably more like 25 million at some time. 
We do have support externally from SAS Analytics and Millward Brown for brand tracking, and we also have email marketing through Epsilon.

Q: Is your website built more for selling or communicating a brand message?

A: HSN.com is about storytelling and great content; it's not simply a transactional device. We bring that to life with strong interactive tools. When we launched the Levi's Curve ID, we launched an interactive tool that allows women to put in their shape and size so the tool could determine the best jeans for them. We have a tool called Hello Gorgeous in which you can upload a photo to try make-up on. The platform was built in-house. In June we launched HSN Arcade, which allows customers to watch HSN shopping on one screen and play games on another. HSN.com is going on 12 years. We just recently hired two new executives to oversee digital commerce.

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