System Eases the Management of Campaigns

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Responsys.com, (www.responsys.com) Santa Clara, CA, has started offering online retailers the ability to create, run and monitor highly personalized e-mail marketing campaigns through a new turnkey subscription service called Responsys Interact.


The service went live in late January, and according to Atri Chatterjee, vice president of marketing at Responsys.com, is modeled after the "Amazon.com experience" in which the retailer has the ability to communicate on a personalized basis with the consumer.


"The thought process was, 'How do we take this type of capability of communicating personally with clients and make it so that any type of business on the Web can do it?,' " he said. "Instead of selling expensive software and having people install it themselves, we are taking the IT aspect out of it and handling all of that for them. It provides direct marketing business managers with all the tools they need to efficiently interact with customers online."


Once merchants have signed up for a subscription to the service, they can create an entire campaign through the site, including everything from the design of the piece to how many pieces will be sent out and when. Chatterjee said companies can either do this on their own, with the help of an outside agency or with the assistance of Responsys.


"Graphically and with regards to the text, the user can do anything they want with their messages," he said. "The creative aspect is only limited by their imagination. We try to provide the most flexibility in designing the most elaborate campaigns."


Chatterjee said merchants can create three different types of e-mail messages.


"They can create a personalized message containing the consumer's first and last name with a URL to click on and link back to the company site," he said. "There is the two-way personal message with a built-in call-to-action, and the third is a multistep campaign where if a consumer responds to the message it will trigger the mailing of another campaign piece to be delivered in a few weeks."


Depending on the complexity of the campaign, it could take less than an hour to design the simplest one or up to half a day for the more involved ones.


The more profile information a merchant has on a customer, the more personalized the piece can be. The service allows them to create different pieces for different people that they are marketing the same product to, Chatterjee said.


Responsys will store the mailing lists, which are provided by merchants. The system gives them the ability to determine who on its mailing list will receive an e-mail message - such as every 10th person on the list and when the pieces will go out. The system also suppresses bad files. If the first name is missing from a file, it will replace it with the word customer or the person's last name.


Chatterjee said Responsys has sent out "millions of millions" e-mail messages so far for the six companies using the service. There are five more companies running test campaigns and will officially sign on in the "near future."


Among those currently using Responsys Interactive are MotherNature.com, Acton, MA; Network Associates, Santa Clara, CA; and Netscape Communications, Mountain View, CA.


MotherNature.com, an online retailer of vitamins, herbs and supplements, has been using the service for the past six weeks.


"The reason we chose to work with Responsys is that it provided us with a complete turnkey service with all the solutions we needed," said Jennifer Murphy, director of retention marketing at MotherNature.com. "It provides us with an e-mail system that allows us to effectively contact our customer base."


MotherNature.com not only uses the service to promote new products to its customers, but to deliver articles and information on products people may have recently purchased or products that will be released in the future.


"We recently sent out an article to each of our customers who bought a particular herb," she said. "The service allows us to pinpoint and communicate with those customers. This is the only true solution that we have found - and from a marketing standpoint, it makes us more effective and presents us to our customers in the best possible light."


MotherNature.com has managed to run a unique campaign for each of the six weeks and has sent out close to 30,000 e-mails. With the numerous options provided by Responsys, Murphy said that once it understands all the capabilities of the service, it will use the system more often and in different ways.


"We have seen great response numbers up to this point," she said. "Once we get more sophisticated and learn all of its capabilities we will be using it even more. Six months from now, we will be doing a lot more with it than we are now."


Another feature of Responsys Interactive is that it allows users to check and see how their campaigns are doing at any time.


"Companies can check out the status reports of their campaigns in real-time," Chatterjee said. "They can look at responses, bounces and those who want to unsubscribe to the mailings. A user can even do a query to see how many people over the age of 40 responded positively to a particular mailing. That is how detailed the information we provide them with can get."


The cost of a subscription is based on the number of mailings. A merchant looking to do 25,000 mailings a month will pay a subscription fee of $2,000 a month.


Those looking to do mailings totaling in the millions a month will pay $10,000 to $12,000 a month. Responsys.com asks users that they sign up for the service on a quarterly basis.
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