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Case study: How Volvo Construction Equipment lifted open rates

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If Volvo Construction Equipment North America sends a customer who is interested in excavators information about pipe-layers, chances are that customer may not jump to open the next e-mail that comes his or her way. Personalization, said John Johnston, e-business marketing manager, is extremely important to the success of the company's e-mail marketing program. “Having the right content is our biggest e-mail demand,” he said. “It's something that has to be there.”

Each month, the company sends out a newsletter, e-commerce promotions and e-mails tied to specific campaigns. Until 18 months ago, all that personalization happened manually, with someone having to insert newsletter content, for example, by looking at Volvo's CRM system and dropping in the right links, articles, logos and images before sending it out to dealers and end-users. “We grabbed the image, embedded the link and grabbed the right text,” Johnston said. “By the time we built it out, it took twice as long as it currently does.”

So the company, with help from its ESP, ExactTarget, integrated its CRM system and website with its e-mail creation and delivery system so customers get not only personalized but also up-to-the-minute content in their messaging. Personalizing e-mails made a huge difference, Johnston said, with open rates increasing 15% to 20% in the past 18 months. “There is an increase in open rates because people see content that is personalized to them,” he said.

Volvo can keep track of user interests based on leads, previous purchases and other requested information, and can focus its e-mails on those topics. The company can add a variety of different content types more easily now, and that content is indexed and tagged by subject. The e-mail program can then match subjects with e-mail fodder. Video has been an especially good addition, Johnston said, garnering a 20% to 30% click-through rate.

Pulling content from different sources enables Volvo to grab the latest used equipment listings from its site and dynamically populate an ecommerce e-mail, adding photos, product descriptions and news to the products for sale. It also allows Volvo to created triggered, personalized e-mails for its dealers, Johnston said. “We will have the headers and logos already set up in the template, and promotions will change based on the dealer,” he said.

In the end, the automated personalization is helping Volvo get customers the right information more quickly, which helps with conversions, Johnston said. “The faster you get the information to customers, the better the conversion.”

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