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Personalized e-mail in action

Still sending out the same to newsletter to every customer? Newsletters are fine, as far as they go, but the best marketers are finding ways to deliver truly personalized service using e-mail. One of the best examples is the personalized lawn care advice from ScottsMiracle-Gro.


Scotts draws strong brand loyalty from its customers, but their lawn advice has resulted in an even closer relationship. Scotts makes a compelling offer—free personalized lawn care advice based on your zip code and grass type. Subscribers get advice based on the local weather and pests, delivered on the Web or through an e-mail newsletter.
Scotts Personalized E-mail
Scotts has a highly tailored experience, with 125 different geographic regions and multiple grass types (because different grasses require different weed control products). But Scotts worked its way up to this sophisticated service a little at a time, according to Joel Reimer, Director of Interactive Marketing. “We started out by sending a different e-mail to each of our 18 distribution regions—these regions meant nothing to our customers, but at least we knew the product that we were recommending was available in that region.”
At its inception in 2001, Scotts’ customers liked the service immediately, and Scotts knew they needed to find a way to do more. They began working with e-mail vendor ExactTarget so that they could more easily develop and send out the personalized content. “ExactTarget helped us be more relevant, driving 125 versions from a single template with business rules,” Reimer said, which allows them to concentrate on content instead of personalization and delivery.
Scotts shows that personalization doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. however, because they were not afraid to do it wrong quickly. They tried an idea in the easiest way possible and when they saw it was effective, that’s when they invested more heavily and did it right.
Today, Scotts sees less than 1% of its 1.5 million-subscriber list unsubscribe from the service and those subscribers use far more Scotts products than other customers. Surveys show that subscribers make 2.7 applications of Scotts products each year, compared to 1.7 for non-subscribers.
If you’re still sending out a single newsletter to your customers, maybe you could brainstorm a more personalized service that would drive more customer loyalty.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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