BtoB newsletter Oct 2008

Case study: How ClearBrick built its e-mail list
By Karen J. Bannan

Software provider ClearBrick offers its customer experience planning software to small companies across the world. Until April 2007, it got the word out using pay-per-click ads and direct marketing…

Why are our targeted weekly e-mails getting little response?

Answer: When a marketing program does not work, always go back to the basics of marketing 101: right target, right message, right timing, right channel.

Despite advances in scenario-based Web design created to track customer online behavior and build profiles or personas, for targeted marketing campaigns, your customers are still bombarded with tons of irrelevant messages—often the result of batch-and-blast campaigns sent by stove-piped e-mail applications and outsourced e-mail service providers—each day.

If you aren’t getting responses, it is quite likely that your customers view your correspondence as spam rather than relevant or valuable information, regardless of whether or not they have opted to receive your e-mails. Relevance is key in e-mail.

Assuming your target audience, timing and channel are right, it’s time to step back and take a closer look at your message and its relevancy. What about your personalization capabilities? If you’re relying on customer profiles and Web behavior alone, it’s time to expand your approach and take into account all customer interaction: Have you met face to face at a trade show? Spoken on the phone? Engaged in preliminary sales discussions?

Often these data are stored in two different locations. Customer profiles are housed within your Web and e-mail system, and real-world customer interactions are stored in the sales force automation (SFA), or customer relationship management (CRM) system or a lead management database. What you need is an enterprise marketing platform that will link the two. Adding this technological infrastructure links online data accumulated through Web and e-mail tracking with offline data stored in SFA/CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to automate the communication process.

There are a number of platforms out there, however the best solution will manage and gather data as well as support more personalized, tightly coordinated communications across multiples channels, not just e-mail. This technology should be able to handle sophisticated marketing automation work flows—especially those supporting highly personalized, large-volume outbound communications and should integrate with back-end transactional solutions.

At the same time, the technology should continuously and automatically monitor response rates and digital body language to provide you and your sales staff with up-to-the-minute details on campaign performance. With A/B testing and measurable results, you’ll be able to devise more targeted, impactful campaigns while integrating e-mail with new and existing communications channels to increase customer loyalty and drive sales—a far cry from the soulless batch-and-blast campaigns flooding your customers’ inboxes.

Patrick McHugh is exec VP-North American operations for Neolane (, a provider of enterprise marketing software.