Accenture creates customized newsletter to avoid messaging overkill

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Objective: Consulting firm Accenture has five industry groups—Communications and High Tech, Financial Services, Government, Products and Resources—with 17 different subverticals beneath them. Each vertical had its own e-mail newsletter, which meant subscribers might get up to 17 e-mails from the company each month. Accenture needed to reduce the number of messages it sent while increasing its connection with prospects and customers. Strategy: The company created “My Outlook” a customizable newsletter that allows users to choose exactly what content they’d like to see. Results: Subscription rates are up 22%, and the company is getting ready to launch foreign-language versions of the newsletter service.

Everyone at Accenture goes after the same prospects: C-level employees and decision-makers. This is good from a branding perspective, but it makes things difficult for the company’s internal marketers. Each of the 17 different verticals within the company wants the same executives—56% of whom are senior executives—to sign up for their newsletter content. Until recently, this meant that prospects could choose between 40 and 50 e-mail newsletters each month. As a result, Accenture employees often missed out on connections with customers, said Terry Corby, Accenture’s director of global thought leadership marketing.

“If you were an HR director, you might say you were only interested in work force content. But if you were an HR director at American Express, you might want content about HR issues and financial services,” he said. “In many cases, the person wouldn’t sign up for both, though. So one part of our organization that person might have really good interest in wouldn’t have any contact with that person.”

About 18 months ago, Accenture solved its problem by creating one e-mail newsletter, called “My Outlook” and asking subscribers to choose only the topics that interested them. The content contains little if any marketing, Corby said.

“We have an editorial policy within the company that the type of information we put into the newsletter is not sales material. Plus, if you only sign up for HR content and there’s no HR content that month, you won’t get anything from us,” Corby said. “We’re not marketing just to market.”

Readers seem to like the new format: Subscription rates for “My Outlook” are up 22% as compared with the individual newsletters. In addition, there’s been demand for the content outside of the U.S. In the fourth quarter, Accenture will launch a Mandarin Chinese version of “My Outlook,” with more languages to come.

“We’re matching user profiles to their interests much better than we used to,” Corby said. “And each of the tens of thousands of unique subscribers gets a totally unique set of content. We’re definitely finding success.”

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