E-Loan, an online consumer direct lender, has strived to deliver relevant and timely communication to customers of the Pleasanton CA-based company throughout its 11-year history.
Because Federal Reserve interest rate adjustments directly impact its customers, the announcements trigger immediate communication from E-Loan. In the past, these e-mails were coordinated with Web site content, but for the January rate cuts, E-Loan linked e-mail with both Web and paid search efforts. The tactic resulted in a lift in conversion and applications.
E-Loan developed this type of “fusion marketing” to share knowledge across channels, says Siara Nazir, E-Loan’s director of online/offline marketing and customer retention. “We saw an opportunity to create a united [marketing] front — all messages were the same type, and they went out at the same time,” she says. The campaign results offered enough of a lift to implement the tactics for the March rate cut.
E-mail need not stand alone
JupiterResearch reports that coupling e-mail with other channels has delivered remarkable results. A 2007 study found campaigns improved for 90% of marketers who integrated third-party data, for 74% who integrated with off-line direct marketing and for 85% who integrated Web site analytics. Overall, e-mails are four times more effective when targeted and integrated with other data.
Scott Olrich, CMO at e-mail service provider Responsys, works with E-Loan on its e-mail campaigns. He explains that adding channels and driving an integrated experience helps marketers’ dialog with customers.
“Sophisticated marketers need segmentation, relevant content, and to consider timing and behavior of the consumer,” says Olrich. Consistent messages are important, he adds, but points out that it’s more important to let the conversation evolve.
“E-Loan is successful because it doesn’t just think about a single campaign or channel,” he explains. “It thinks about what it wants customers to do and builds a program.”
The goal of an e-mail campaign, Olrich says, should determine which channels are used in conjunction with it. Segmentation helps marketers deliver personalized information, while testing can inform decisions about channel mix as well as content.
E-Loan segments customers based on the type of product they use, such as mortgages and car loans. Language and keyword strategy is tailored across channels.
“Fusion marketing coupled with rigorous testing is the era we’re heading into,” Nazir says. The first step, she says, is a unified message. “The second step is [acquiring knowledge] from online media buys, search marketing, traffic data, and click data, and applying that to e-mail subject lines, content, and links,” she continues. “What we’ve already done and tested in other channels is applied to e-mail and [vice versa].”
For the January 30 interest rate cut, E-Loan measured open rates of e-mails with subject lines that included the rate cut figure and ones that didn’t. E-mails that included subject lines without the number were opened more often.
“What may work for e-mail may not work for search landing pages, but ideas cross-pollinate,” Nazir says. “We’re taking what has proven a significant lift over the control in e-mail and applying it to Web strategy.”
Increases efficacy of all channels
Sean O’Neal, chief revenue officer at e-mail service provider Datran Media, agrees that using e-mail with other channels increases the efficacy of all channels. “Leads from all channels should result in an e-mail message,” he says. “E-mail is the only truly two-way channel — it closes the loop and begins two-way dialog.”
Datran Media client Norman Miglietta, director of advertising and marketing for Turner Sports’ new media division, says integrating has made “a huge difference.” Turner Sports offers TrackPass, a product on its nascar.com site that allows visitors to see and hear NASCAR information online. Coordinating online efforts around TrackPass with e-mail communication has worked well in acquiring and retaining subscribers, he says.
The start of NASCAR season is also a peak selling time for nascar.com’s e-commerce store, and e-mails with content tailored to customer preference are used in conjunction with print catalog mailings. Miglietta says response rates are higher in both channels when they work together.
“Experiment on what works best,” Miglietta advises. “We always hold a control group to measure.”
Nazir agrees, noting that E-Loan won’t rest despite January’s success with channel mix and messaging. “It’s an evolutionary process,” she says. “We continuously test against a winner to find another winner.”