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Using customer data to create one-to-one conversations

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On May 24, interactive agency Razorfish released its “2010 Outlook Report”–previously the “Digital Outlook Report”—the latest iteration of its annual report about trends in the interactive marketing world. This year's report is unique because it examines the effect of the recession on the marketplace. One surprising fact: Average client spending was up 4% last year, a significant change from the 13% drop that occurred in 2008.

E-mail marketers will be interested to know that that category garnered the lowest amount of spend, aside from in-game marketing and digital out-of-home—about the same amount as social media (nondisplay). In addition, everyone who invested in e-mail had done so in the past, the only category that could make this claim. What has changed, said Joe Mele, Razorfish's managing director of media and marketing, is how people are using e-mail marketing.

“We're definitely seeing a move to one-to-one marketing. Marketers are using the channel as a personalization space to do quite a bit of targeted advertising,” he said. “What we're trying to do is take anonymous customer data and refine it more and more.”

Companies that adopt one-to-one marketing see a significant benefit for their efforts, Mele said, with ROI that is “typically 5 to 10 times greater than standard, broad-reach campaigns.”

The take-away from this trend? E-mail marketers need to be thinking about personalization when they are planning their e-mail campaigns. It's not enough to simply insert a recipient's first name and mention where you got their e-mail address, Mele said. You need to be using all the data sources at your disposal to create true one-to-one conversations, he said.

For example, Mele suggested using text messaging as an extension of your e-mail marketing program. “Texting is as addressable as e-mail but able to take on a more intimate feel,” he said.

You can reference e-mail marketing campaigns in your texts and create special offers for those e-mail subscribers who also sign up for text messages. Of course, this means you need tight integration between your text messaging marketing team and your e-mail marketing team to synch the timing and content of the offers. There's nothing worse, Mele said, than when customers get duplicate or unwanted information from multiple departments within the same company.

E-mail marketers also need to reach out to the sales department more often, Mele said, because salespeople have data that e-mail marketers can and should be using. “There are terabytes and terabytes of customer data available, and we're all suffering from data collection overload. People are collecting too much, where they should only be collecting and measuring what matters,” he said.

In the case of sales data, your salespeople should be giving you better stats on conversion: What helps customers make their decisions, how important was e-mail marketing collateral and how can you provide better information to keep customers current?

Once the data are collected and put into your CRM system, rules should be set up so e-mails are triggered automatically based on specific actions. Ads should be extremely customized right down to the offers, messaging, images and design, according to the “2010 Outlook Report.” “The less fragmented the marketing program is, the more the customer will feel like they are more than just part of a big database,” Mele said.

To download a copy of the 2010 Outlook Report, go to http://razorfishoutlook.razorfish.com.

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