Roundtable: Inbox success driven by data integration

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ST : This is an internal conversation that we have on a very regular basis. Most of our customers are very heavily engaged and will receive promotions up to every day. Some of them are on multiple campaigns.

And some of them, we have a core group of people that engage with us, some of them, 30 times a month.

We're delivering something that has some perceived value. But whittling people off that file and taking off the non-responders and putting them on a different cadence strategy, to us, became a big focus.

DS: I think it's not only a question of frequency. It's really the order. In the context of an integrated campaign, what is its role is an important question that needs to be answered. The role will vary maybe from one campaign to the next. Do you touch them with e-mail before or after mail [or] telemarketing? All of this needs to be tested.

DMNews: So is that one of the biggest challenges for creating an integrated marketing strategy?

SK: We have a ton of content going out. It's our sense that if fans are coming to us and raising their hands, saying, “I want to receive this content,” we're going to deliver it to them. Where we get into the prioritization is really the marketing type of messages that we would have going out.

PW: We have a couple of lines of business that have specific financial goals or customer contact goals that we have to reconcile every month. Our research business, for example, does a tremendous amount of mailing. Those mailings generate a higher level of complaints than other things that we do. We have to spend time with our research guys trying to educate them about how to mail better.

DMNews: Are you integrating your e-mail with other channels?

KT: All of our clients identify the same challenge typically, which is centralizing data and making it actionable. If you do not have a single view of your customer and understand how they want to communicate with you and when, it makes it very difficult to execute e-mail marketing programs effectively.

JS: We've had a lot of success this last year using mobile as an acquisition [tool] for e-mail. Our customersare most engaged with us when they're in the  airport. We started pushing a text-to-sign-up campaign. We've got our number 83793 everywhere now. Jet bridges, peanut bags, napkins. Flight attendant announcements: “We've just landed. You can use your cell phone now. While you're using your cell phone, send us your e-mail address.”

DMNews: Is anybody integrating e-mail with direct mail?

ST: If I roll back the hands of time to when e-mail first got started, everybody said, “This will be the death of direct mail.” I'm pretty sure we're going to find the same thing with e-mail as we migrate over to mobile and social. But each of them has its own unique characteristics that consumers like engaging with. The key is to try to have them all working together. We sent a letter telling people to watch their e-mail box for a special sweepstakes. It drove the campaign through the roof.

KT: Integration truly speaks to putting the customer in greater control of your marketing messages – achieving the holy grail of one-to-one messaging. Providing an integrated marketing campaign to your customers allows you to speak to your customers everywhere they want to hear from you.

DS: Certain things can trigger other things in terms of announcing that something is arriving in the mail. I think the risk is if a marketer actually attempts to use a medium the wrong way. Whether it's too lengthy an e-mail, for example, vs. something that's very pithy. [A marketer might use] direct mail to tell that story in a fuller sense.

SM: Yes. Another application of that is catalogers. You get a catalog in the mail. Sending an e-mail prior to the catalog's coming or after the catalog has arrived is also a very effective strategy. And then follow-up e-mails that say, “Did you check out page 54 for the most amazing new spring line?”

DMNews: How are you using social media in your e-mail programs?

KT: We see clients using socialized e-mail in three ways today: as an enhanced share functionality for both their e-mail messages or content within their messages; as a way to drive e-mail subscribers to their social sites; and finally, as a way to motivate evangelistic behavior to drive new customers out of their engaged subscriber base.

EC: Moving forward, that's going to be a big focus for us, as well as using mobile. We're moving to more of an alert system; not just for TV shows that are on, but for your online DVR on TVGuide.com where the latest episode of Lost is available for viewing. We're going to allow a lot of flexibility with frequency. Also, we really have to look at when we should do social; when we should use e-mail; when we should use mobile, and how they can all work together.

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