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Balancing Engagement With Privacy Is a Juggling Act

Mercola.com had long depended on its homegrown tool to send email communications. Although the method was working, the nature health website began to outgrow the approach last year and set out to use a more advanced method of email marketing. Additionally, its growing subscriber list necessitated that the company find a new way to improve customer security and protect customer data as mandated by FDA regulations. The company also wanted to send more personalized messages and give consumers more control over the messages that they received. The goal was to balance customer engagement and improve email delivery, while increasing email and customer security.

One challenge the company faced was sending its newsletter in a timely fashion. Mercola’s email list had more than one million members, so it took up to 12 hours to deploy emails. The company wanted to cut down on this huge delay, as well as have the ability to specifically target its delivery times by time of day based on each recipient’s geographic location, so that Mercola’s emails would reach those recipients during their peak reading hours.

Since the company was planning to enhance its email strategy, it also took the opportunity to improve targeting, segmentation, and analytics tools, as well as to address its email deliverability goals. Security was also an important part of the move. Based on the scope of these plans, Mercola decided that it was time to outsource its email platform.

Resolving to be quick, and secure

The company hired Adobe Campaign (formerly Neolane) to help clean its list and to bring campaign monitoring, analytics, and click tracking into the mix. Adobe also was tasked with improving deliverability times, increasing security, and creating a preference center. “Mercola.com wanted to enhance customer engagement and identified that it needed to be able to reach readers faster and more consistently with personalized news and information,” says Mathieu Hannouz, senior product marketing manager at Adobe. “Its strategy was to implement a new platform to distribute [that] news in a quick and secure manner to a large and growing number of readers, all while maintaining data privacy.”

Mercola began to fill its emails with specific news stories, offers, and discounts tailored to its customers’ interests. In addition, the company improved its mailing frequency and data collection methods. It also added surveys and event-triggered features to the mix.

“While Mercola.com wanted to build closer relationships with its customers, maintaining customer privacy and security standards was of the upmost importance,” Hannouz says. “A key part to respecting customer privacy was ensuring that its new platform maintained good practices like avoiding over-emailing, implementing a preference center, using proper collection methods, and, most important,  incorporating customer feedback and interests. Mercola.com felt that a positive brand experience depends on personalized, agile campaigns tailored to individual readers.”

After the revamp Mercola discovered that site visitors did health research on the website, so the company decided to create a preference center to help visitors tailor their email experience.

Better view, better performance

Mercola’s email overhaul now makes it easier for its marketing team to analyze and act on email performance. The team no longer has to go through IT to get reports and instead can examine metrics every hour. In addition, the company is now measuring deliverability, customer behavior, and engagement.

The company’s preference center allows subscribers to sign up for news alerts they’re interested in. And although cleaning its list reduced the company’s list size, its cleaner database is more engaged.

Now the company “can deliver breaking news and trends to customers more efficiently, maximizing existing marketing team resources,” says Tom Klausing, senior marketing manager at Mercola.com. He adds that the new platform gives Mercola better data and customized preferences, which has helped improve newsletter clickthrough rates. In fact, the revamp has helped Mercola increase open rates for newsletters from 20 to more than 30%. Net opens have also increased.

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