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TSR's new e-mail marketing program helping target customers

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Decade-old TSR Inc. supplies the wire harness industry with hand tools, braiders and anything else that helps manufacturers assemble high-tech and, often high-ticket, items. Unfortunately, until earlier this year the company wasn't doing a high-tech job of promoting itself—TSR didn't have an e-mail marketing program (or an associated e-mail list). All its marketing materials went out via regular mail, which is something Jesse Denherder, art and marketing director, set out to change in February.

Denherder started building a list by hitting up TSR's North America, Central America and Mexico sales forces, asking each of the company's 18 internal groups for 25 e-mail addresses. The company also garnered addresses at industry trade shows. As a result, the list went from zero to 500 names in less than a month, recently topping the 2,000-entry mark.

Trying to be all things to all customers, Denherder, in conjunction with its e-mail service provider, Constant Contact, created a monthly e-newsletter. The newsletter contains details about the benefits of its products, complete with testimonials and revenue potential. Initially, the newsletter went out to everyone on the list. This didn't work, Denherder said, because it didn't take into account what products a customer had already purchased, where they were located or what industry they were in.

Denherder started shaping TSR's list, asking its sales reps to add detail about prospects and customers to the Constant Contact database. The reps also identified themselves, pairing their names with their customers' names. Once these data were available, Denherder segmented the list into 13 categories including region, type of customer, industry and job function. And then the fun started, Denherder said.

TSR designed campaigns around products and their specific profit margins, profiling and marketing those products they needed to move in a specific month. Then, based on previous customer purchases, it targeted those products to specific list segments.

"We could see which customers would be most interested in the product and send the newsletter out to those segments," Denherder said. "What's great about the Constant Contact segmentation is that it omits repeats if you're sending out to multiple lists and the same people are on more than one list. If they are on three lists, they are still only getting one copy."

The list segmentation helped with something else, too. Since TSR sales representatives are listed with customer data, TSR marketers could report e-mail activity back to those individual reps.

"If we get a lead from a rep and the lead bounces, we can give that lead right back to the rep and tell them that they should follow up on him or her," Denherder said. "If the person clicked through on a link we can give that information to the rep, too. It's like being able to keep virtual tabs on our customers."

It also gives sales executives a way to keep tabs on the reps since list growth denotes who's getting action and who's not.

The segmentation is definitely working for TSR. Before segmenting its list, TSR had an open rate of about 30%. Today, the average open rate is 37%.

"By tracking what people are interested in, we can sell through more product," Denherder said. "We recently sent out a campaign for a fine technique stripper and tripled sales in one month by getting that information out there. Customers are getting the answers they are looking for."

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