DigitalGlobe accelerates marketing

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HOW DIGITALGLOBE IMPROVED ITS GLOBAL MARKETING Objective: To quickly promote the availability of new satellite images to key verticals while supporting the DigitalGlobe brand and network of resellers
Strategy: Triggered e-mail direct marketing, automated marketing work flow and user-community microsites
Results: Ready acceptance of opt-in e-mail alert system, up to 15% improvement in open rates and reduced bounce-back rates. Sales are growing.

E-mail has grown to be among the most potent of direct-marketing tools. Perhaps nowhere is its strength more demonstrable as in its ability to alert customers and opted-in prospects of new or improved products.

Triggered e-mail alerts have become, in fact, the centerpiece of an automated, unified marketing campaign for DigitalGlobe, whose satellite Earth images were only as valuable as the speed in which the company could get them into the hands of customers.

DigitalGlobe's satellite photos of the Earth are marketed to defense and civil governments; commercial customers, such as Google Maps; and energy companies involved in oil, gas, coal and hydroelectric energy production. Insurance companies also are a major target, due to their need to closely examine the impact of natural disasters on geography and infrastructure. The company went public in May, raising $279 million.

DigitalGlobe's major challenge has been the perishability of its products. Customers want newly available satellite photos of specific regions of the Earth, and they want them quickly for competitive reasons.

And as a company that's growing with its new infusion of funds, DigitalGlobe has an increasing need for a worldwide outreach, addressing current and prospective customers as well as its far-flung network of resellers.

“We needed to scale our marketing appropriately to actually have a global marketing presence,” said Sara Poulton, senior director-marketing for DigitalGlobe. “We operate in about 90 countries. We needed to reach out effectively to all our market segments and do that with an in-house marketing team of only two or three people.”

Automation here was essential, since the company collects almost 400,000 square miles of new images every day. Also critical was managing marketing work flow across channels and vertical targets, a tough task for a small marketing department.

“DigitalGlobe had some clear needs in marketing automation,” said Stephan Dietrich, president of marketing software provider Neolane Inc., brought in to address DigitalGlobe's challenges. “We started with e-mail, but quickly realized they needed something much broader, a worldwide platform to automate their campaigns.”

DigitalGlobe and Neolane developed user communities, via microsites, for each of the company's vertical industry targets. This helped better capture and manage leads as participants subscribed to a new-image alert system. To facilitate the triggered e-mail notification program, DigitalGlobe integrated its image banks with Neolane's marketing solutions, with new images activating alerts to appropriate subscribers.

Neolane's solution also supported the company's lead management programs, including lead routing, scoring and nurturing. Standard e-mail templates co-branded with the company's resellers were developed, helping overcome challenges in brand consistency.

“The most important aspect of the campaign was the breadth of what has been done,” Dietrich said. “There wasn't just a tactical solution in one area, such as e-mail direct marketing that notifies customers about images, but rather in creating an entire marketing backbone.”

Poulton said DigitalGlobe views events as an added marketing tool, including webinars as well as live seminars presented alongside the company's resellers. “In certain countries, such as Brazil, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, they still love half-day events,” Poulton said. The company also celebrates news at these events, such as new satellite launches.

DigitalGlobe was pleased with the results of its marketing overhaul. Customer alert cycles were reduced from weeks to days, allowing for quick notification of the availability of new images. Its e-mail promotion and alert campaign enjoyed a 10% to 15% improvement in open rates, with bounce-back rates reduced “dramatically” through house list hygiene.

The new subscription alert center gained more than 1,000 subscribers via a dedicated e-mail campaign of its own, with only 0.33% opting out since then. And the company is growing in a tough economy; second quarter revenue hit $70 million, an increase of $2.6 million compared with the same period last year.

“We had a big vision for what we wanted,” Poulton said. “We have extended the boundaries of what our marketing programs are able to achieve by simplifying and automating key processes while supporting consistent messaging and brand image across our business lines and products.”

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