Corel campaign made stronger with segmented messaging

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Corel’s customer base is eclectic—consumers, as well as small and large companies buy and use its word processing, drawing and photo manipulation software. In fall 2006, the Ontario-based company was getting ready to announce an upgrade to an existing software package. In the past, everyone in its e-mail database got the same marketing message. But this time, the company decided to change that.

“We always used e-mail to serve a variety of purposes,” said Bernie Schroeder, Corel’s direct marketing manager. “We use it to see how we can engage customers [and] we use it for retention and acquisition. But we realized that the quality of the relationships we created by sending the same message to everyone wasn’t as strong as it could be.”

Schroeder split the list into 15 different segments based on version ownership, propensity to upgrade previously, ownership of multiple versions and ownership of multiple Corel products. Another segment: those who had expressed interest in but never bought Corel software. Since each segment had a different need, the creative mirrored this, he said.

“For example, for some high-value clients the focus was not on the fact that we had a new version; the focus was that we wanted to thank them for being a great customer and reward them for that with a special offer.” These recipients might get a discount and a value-add, such as ongoing discounts and free shipping. “Some people got use-specific messaging,” he said. “We knew they really enjoy using a product in a certain way, so we told them, ‘Here’s the new release’ and about some of the features that they would find especially important.”

The take-away: sometimes discounts aren’t the only things that will get people to open their wallets, Schroeder said. People want to do business with a company understands and knows about their needs.

Looking to further boost relevance, Schroeder set up A/B testing for every segment, effectively turning 15 segments into 45, he said.

“We did A/B testing and included a control group as well. This let us take the time to discover what our data was saying,” he said.

Once A/B testing was complete—Schroeder sent out text e-mails to about one-third of the names on each list—he sent out the top-performing messages to the entire list. As a result the campaign’s overall open rate was as high as 60%. Conversion, he said, was twice the industry average. Some segments saw conversion rates more than 20 times the industry average.

“The reason was really that we were able to deliver custom offers and messages to each segment. The context of each was the key to our high conversion rates,” he said.

This year Corel will take its segmentation focus one step further when it melds its marketing program with Web analytics.

“We’re twinning the programs so we can do more delivery of information based on where and how people are using our Web site,” Schroeder said. “This will let us tweak our messaging even further.”

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