Making Email Marketing Work For Customers

Aug 16, 2004

By John Hennessy

Personalization and relevance seem to be key ingredients in having your email make it through the increasing clutter of worthless messages. At the eTail 2004 East Conference,, and gave examples of personalized email programs that get results.

Home Depot launched a Garden Club on a Friday and by Saturday morning had received 25,000 sign-ups for its newsletter. The key driver of this seems to be the information being offered, that connects with a sub-group of Home Depot customers.

The Home Depot Garden club offers:

  • “Tips and techniques for your region”

  • “Practical advice from our gardening pros”

  • “Easy garden projects, with step-by-step instructions”

  • “Inspiration and ideas from other Garden Club members”’s situation is a little different since their customers are their own sub-group…all interested in art reproductions. Even so, the company tries to refine personalization and improve response rates to different customer segments by experimenting with Subject lines, Sent-From lines, reminder e-mails and email timing to refine personalization and improve response rates.

Also a site of shoppers who share similar tastes, continues to see expansion in its email list. The list currently stands at 750,000 and Matt Corey,’s vice president, e-commerce says, “We haven’t run into the top of the usage curve yet.”

Moderator’s Comment: What relevant information value
can other retailers deliver to sub-groups of their shoppers to raise their value
and encourage greater shopper involvement?

If something appeals to your interests, you’ll seek it
out. That seems to be the theme of these email newsletter successes. rewards the gardener sub-group of its customer
base with valuable and regionally customized information on something these
shoppers share a passion for. This use of relevant content-driven value is a
terrific model.

The other two retailers serve a niche of shoppers who
share similar interests or tastes. The mission of these retailers is to better
understand the information requirements of these shoppers and, ideally, to understand
and develop content that appeals to micro groups within their shopper community.

A supermarket chain could borrow from both approaches
and add its own twist. Specialized email content can be developed and delivered
to shoppers trying to satisfy specific dietary requirements. These emails could
be sent with varied frequency and with slight differences in content to match
the needs of shoppers who fall within this sub-group. Specific shoppers could
be proactively selected for a “trial” of this email based on a match of their
purchase history with a purchase history profile of shoppers who would be interested
in this information.

Relevant content could be developed for dozens of other
shopper sub-groups including dessert mavens, vegans, grill masters or pizza

John Hennessy – Moderator

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