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Personalized Email in Action

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Still sending out the same newsletter to every customer?

Newsletters are fine, as far as they go, but the best marketers are finding ways to deliver truly personalized services using e-mail. One of the best examples is the personalized lawn care advice from ScottsMiracle-Gro.

Scotts draws strong brand loyalty from its customers, but their lawn advice has resulted in an even closer relationship. Scotts makes a compelling offer – free personalized lawn care advice based on your zip code and grass type. Subscribers get advice based on the local weather and pests, delivered on the Web or through an e-mail newsletter.

Scotts has a highly tailored experience, with 125 different geographic regions and multiple grass types (because different grasses require different weed control products). But Scotts worked its way up to this sophisticated service a little at a time, according to Joel Reimer, Director of Interactive Marketing. “We started out by sending a different e-mail to each of our 18 distribution regions-these regions meant nothing to our customers, but at least we knew the product that we were recommending was available in that region.”

At its inception in 2001, Scotts’ customers liked the service immediately, and Scotts knew they needed to find a way to do more. They began working with e-mail vendor ExactTarget so that they could more easily develop and send out the personalized content. “ExactTarget helped us be more relevant, driving 125 versions from a single template with business rules” which allows them to concentrate on content instead of personalization and delivery.

Scotts shows that personalization doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. however, because they were not afraid to do it wrong quickly. They tried an idea in the easiest way possible and when they saw it was effective, that’s when they invested more heavily and did it right.

Today, Scotts sees fewer than 1% of its 1,5 million list unsubscribe from the service and those subscribers use far more Scotts products than other customers. Surveys show that subscribers make 2.7 applications of Scotts products each year, compared to 1.7 for non-subscribers.

If you’re still sending out a single newsletter to your customers, maybe you could brainstorm a more personalized service that would drive more customer loyalty.

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Copyright Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an IBM Distinguished Engineer, expert on Internet marketing, and the author of Search Engine Marketing, Inc., the best-selling book on search marketing. Mike also writes the popular Biznology newsletter and blog.

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