Toolmaker's e-mail effort drives targets to videos

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When Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. introduces a new Sawzall or rotary hammer, its target audience—retailers, distribution partners, contractors and other building professionals—wants to read about the product's features. They also want to learn about how other professionals are using the tool, how it compares to other products on the market and where they can buy T-shirts and gear with the Milwaukee Electric Tool logo. They can find this information on the company's redesigned Web site, which debuted last year. The challenge: Getting the target audience to frequent the site. Today, the company's e-marketing project manager, Vickie Chiappetti, is using e-mail containing links to product videos to move people through to the site. In fact, she said, improving the company's sputtering e-mail marketing program was one of the first things that she did when she started her position in 2007. “It's been a really aggressive marketing approach,” she said. “We've introduced 40 new SKUs last year and will release more products this year. We've set out to provide great content to support all of these new products and get people to our site.” Working in conjunction with ExactTarget, her e-mail service provider, Chiappetti's first order of business was increasing Milwaukee Electric Tool's e-mail database, which was filled with 75,000 dormant names and e-mail addresses. She started with the company's Web site (, placing signup forms deep into its pages, then used search engine marketing to bring people to a form on the Web site where they could sign up for the newsletter. The list soon ballooned to more than 200,000 active names. Content for the company's once-a-month e-newsletter, “Heavy Duty News,” was the next subject Chiappetti tackled. Wanting to give readers the information they were most interested in, she scanned the way people were viewing the videos that the company posted to YouTube and read comments visitors left on that site. She also reviewed her own site's Web analytics to see what people were viewing and reading. It became clear that video was a preferred method of communication for the end-users, so the company implemented a design via links that let them click through to the videos directly. The new redesign brought the video links high onto the message. Since the new design was implemented, the videos (a combination of product overviews and testimonials) have experienced a 118% increase in viewership between 2008 (when videos were added to the site) and 2009. Going forward, Chiappetti said, the company plans to increase its social media marketing, hoping to give its opt-in list an even greater boost and get users to forward and share its videos and messaging virally. The increased video viewership to date has translated into higher Web traffic, too. Visits to the site are up 30% since the redesign last year, and new e-mail campaigns are doing extremely well, Chiappetti said. “Our last campaign went out earlier this month, and we shattered all hourly and daily records,” she said. “We've spoken to a lot of our distribution partners and all of them have requested more video; so the e-mails help us give them the tools they need to sell to their end users.” Originally published April 12, 2010
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