April 11, 2003, 12:00 AM

Victoria`s Secret beats the spam filters--one ISP at a time

Once bogged down by e-mail spam filters that were blocking too much of its marketing, Victoria`s Secret has fashioned a more effective e-mail program that skirts the filters and connects with customers, the company says.

Once bogged down by e-mail spam filters that were blocking too much of its marketing, apparel retailer Victoria`s Secret has fashioned a more effective e-mail program that skirts the filters and connects with customers, Ken Weil, vice president of new media and the head of VictoriasSecret.com, tells Internet Retailer.

“When spam became a problem and e-mail delivery portals began to address the issue, at first they did things crudely, and just said that anyone sending a lot of e-mail is bad,” Weil says. “In our case, they didn’t understand that the mail was from us to our customers.”

Victoria’s Secret had created a list of 6 million e-mail addresses of customers who had signed up to receive information from Victoria’s Secret. Armed with records of customers who had opted in to receive its e-mail, Victoria`s Secret took its case directly to ISPs. “We helped them to understand that were not part of the spam issue,” Weil says.

Overcoming the spam filters, which often didn’t apply nuanced analysis to the e-mail they were blocking, took a lot of work. “We had to go one on one, working closely with AOL and others,” Weil says.

Using a hosted e-mail service from Digital Impact, Victoria’s Secret, which maintains a list of 6 million e-mail addresses, is able to deliver huge amounts of e-mail customized to different groups of customers by shopping behavior, Weil says. “So it’s segmented to the right people at the right time,” he says.

“E-mail marketing is more effective for us now than it was a year ago," he says. "As we get smarter about how to approach our customers with e-mail, they respond better. We’ve learned how customers responded to swimwear or sleepwear in the past, and then by segmenting our e-mail list based on purchasing behavior, we get a better response rate."

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