USG's revamped email program drives road show attendance

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Building materials company USG Corp.'s interactive marketing program is supported by a strong foundation. Last year the company implemented a marketing automation and text messaging infrastructure so it could reach out to the architects and contractors that purchase and use its roofing, primers and plasters, among other things, said Lisa Schmitt-Collins, the company's manager-interactive marketing. In the past, USG had done email marketing, but it was mostly one-off messaging, she said. One of the first campaigns USG launched was an email campaign in support of its new Sheetrock UltraLightweight Gypsum panels. The company planned a road show in 16 cities to show off its new product and teach building and design professionals how to use it and how it differed from previous Sheetrock materials. It used its new marketing automation and email marketing program to invite people to the events; the goal was to draw customers and prospects to the events to learn more about the newest building materials. Previously, road show invitations were handled by a third party, Schmitt-Collins said. "We used an agency to create the emails and the promotions were smaller and didn't keep touching the invitees, so there were fewer opportunities for them to sign up," she said. Under the new program, messages went out to contractors and architects who had previously signed up to receive emails. The biggest change with this effort was that Schmitt-Collins was able to build out the campaign step-by-step by predicting potential behaviors—such as opening the email, clicking through to a website, and signing up for the road show—and using those scenarios to craft messages. "We were able to think about all the behaviors and create content to support them—if they opened the emails, if they opened but didn't register. We went through all the different scenarios and touch points and put out 17 different flows," she said. Previously, email campaigns were created in an ad hoc fashion, she said. "It was blast and go with no integration." As people interacted—or didn't—with the campaign, they received additional messaging throughout the signup time. The campaign resulted in 80% of those who registered attending the event. In addition, the company's new strategy of hyperfocused messaging has reduced the overall opt-out rate of new subscribers to less than 1%. "Yes, we have a very loyal customer base, but the email program definitely steps things up. They know we're giving them valuable information that they want to engage with," Schmitt-Collins said.
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