Magazine Article | February 15, 2007

Increase Online Sales Using Custom E-Mail Campaigns

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

An online retailer boosts sales by tracking prior purchases and enticing customers with personalized e-mail promotions.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, March 2007

Sending customers e-mail messages that speak directly to their interests and purchasing patterns can increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. At the same time, if you inundate customers with messages they have no interest in, they are likely to ignore future campaigns and ultimately unsubscribe from your mail list. Therefore, targeting customers with the right messages is the key to direct marketing efforts. An online retailer that has grown via successful e-mail campaigns is Musictoday.

Musictoday began as an online ticketing Web site for the Dave Matthews Band and grew into an online retailer and fan club Web site. It now has more than 200 music clients, including Christina Aguilera and Kenny Chesney. In 2002, due to growth, Musictoday purchased an automated marketing solution from an e-marketing solutions provider named Accucast, Inc. (a company purchased by Premiere Global Services, a global outsource provider of business process solutions, in February 2006). Sending manual confirmation messages for ticket sales had become unwieldy, and Musictoday wanted to improve its delivery of access codes for ticketing presales.

In addition to ticket purchase confirmations and access codes, Musictoday uses the Premiere Global Services Enterprise solution for subscription-based e-mail newsletters. "We send newsletters covering merchandise sales, ticket specials, and news about bands customers care about," says Ben Whitlow, eCommunications manager for List Management Services at Musictoday. "I maintain a database of customers and pick and choose to whom I want to send specific data. For example, if a customer previously purchased tickets to see Kenny Chesney, I might send an e-mail promoting a sale on Kenny Chesney T-shirts or merchandise for another country music singer we work with."

Build, Launch, Track Campaigns
Whitlow builds e-mail messages, launches them, and supports all internal campaigns using the Premiere Global Services solution. After e-mail campaigns are sent, Whitlow views reports to see which links customers viewed, the number of unsubscribes, and current click-through rates. Musictoday has used the solution since 2002, and during that time its employees investigated the full capabilities of the product. "In the last few years, we spread the usage of the solution to other parts of the company," says Whitlow. "We now reach approximately 1.4 million e-mail addresses each month by launching no fewer than 100 different campaigns. We developed an ASP [active server page] interface for our client service representatives to access client data [unsubscribes, click-through rates] from the Premiere Global Services system." Due to Musictoday's customizations, the solution now ties into other systems used for store promotions and ticket access codes. The interfaces allow data to be pulled directly into the e-mail generator without user interaction, thus improving accuracy.

Enable Non-IT Employees To Handle E-Mail Campaigns
Because Musictoday has used the product for so long and it's evolved with company growth, Whitlow finds it difficult to quantify the solution's success with a specific number. "I can say with certainty that after sending an e-mail blast, we see a huge spike in sales for a few days," says Whitlow. "We look forward to upgrading to version 4 of Enterprise, which will allow e-mail message creation to be completed by customer-interfacing representatives instead of IT employees." Whitlow currently creates messages in Enterprise, but the new version of the software has a simple editor that will add efficiency. The new version also handles microsites (the link at the top of an e-mail message that enables the message to be viewed in Web site format instead of e-mail format), which can improve response rates.

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