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Cisco WebEx uses metrics to hone e-mails

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Businesspeople use Cisco WebEx for a variety of reasons. Aside from online meetings—one of the service's main functions—it is also used for e-learning and educational purposes. The company promotes its product via an e-mail newsletter and uses StrongMail as its e-mail service provider. It segments its database, which contains by its estimate “millions of names,” into prospects and customers. Some in the database are decision-makers who buy the service; others are users.

Cisco WebEx chooses which products and services to promote in which e-mails based on that demographic information as well as other metrics, said Joe Schwartz, director of marketing at the company. “We're using past behavior to predict future behavior, so we are looking at opens and click-throughs,” he said.

This is why Schwartz and his team spend time every month going over all the company's e-mail metrics, looking not only at bounces and feedback loops (provided by StrongMail) but also at what people clicked on and what they did once they got to the company's Web site.

Objective: Cisco WebEx was periodically seeing strong spikes in response and registration for its web-inars, which it publicizes via e-mail. The company wanted to figure out what specifically was causing those spikes so it could integrate that information into its planning process.

Strategy: The company used Web analytics and external industry data to create a new planning calendar and develop strategies for its webinars.

Results: By planning e-learning webinars around the introduction of new legislation and the announcement of mandated training, the company has seen a 30% increase in response to related e-mails and an 8% increase in sales of e-learning applications.

Recently, Schwartz noticed that e-mails related to e-learning had a significant increase in engagement behaviors. He decided to take a closer look and find out why the spike was happening so he could tweak the rest of his marketing program to take advantage of this information.

“We're a highly data-driven company. We do everything by the numbers and, every time we see a change or shift in something, we step back and try to look at what might be driving a change. If it's a positive change, we want to capitalize on it and do more of it,” he said.

He took the increased engagement data and merged that with data from other domain experts, such as the company's e-learning product marketing manager. That exec, Schwartz said, also brought in customer feedback. The consensus: Customers were looking to use Web-Ex to solve their training problems.

“When legislation is announced, you've got managers saying, "I have to train 5,000 people in the next month or so,' which is why we were seeing a huge spike in response and registration,” Schwartz said. “The industry solutions expert was talking to customers and brought back the information that they were looking for a way to train people quickly and provide proof of that training.”

Based on the combination of data, Cisco WebEx changed the way it markets its e-learning services. Today, the company is keeping abreast of new legislation and educational mandates and, in addition, building that language and content into its messaging. It's also marketing based on deadlines and dates; for example, if a new requirement is set to launch Aug. 1, the company starts messaging about that requirement a month or so before. E-mails provide information about how Cisco WebEx products can help users meet those requirements and direct recipients to special landing pages so they can sign up for webinars to educate them further.

By planning e-learning webinars around the introduction of new legislation and the announcement of mandated training, the company has seen a 30% increase in responses to related e-mails and an 8% increase in sales of e-learning applications.

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