March 8, 2004, 12:00 AM

Bike retailer pedals faster with e-mail on heels of CAN-Spam

Performance Inc., a multi-channel bicycle retailer, used to blast out e-mail marketing messages each week without trying to target its promotions. No more. Urged on by CAN-Spam, it now personalizes its e-mail and is seeing better customer response.

Performance Inc., a multi-channel bicycle retailer, used to blast out e-mail marketing messages each week without trying to target its promotions. No more. Urged on by CAN-Spam, it now personalizes its e-mail and is seeing better customer response, Andrew Ruggeri, director of Internet operations, tells Internet Retailer.

In the past, “we just bombarded our list with an endless stream of offers each week and we didn’t have any back-stream analysis to see the open rate or sales conversion rate,” he says.

Now, with help from e-mail services provider EmailLabs, Performance can analyze which customers respond to particular types of offers. And by adding in other customer data, such as geographic location, it sends highly targeted messages with a greater chance of generating a response, Ruggeri says. “Now we can learn that a southern California customer likes mountain bikes, and that we should e-mail marketing messages about mountain bikes to that customer in winter,” he says.

But keeping in mind the need to limit over-exposure through e-mail, which can lead to low open-rates and transfers into spam filters, Performance now also runs routine short surveys within e-mail marketing messages to elicit customer feedback on its e-mail marketing strategy – a technique that has kept it from sending out messages too frequently, Ruggeri says.

Performance, which started its more targeted e-mail campaigns in late January, a few weeks after CAN-Spam went into effect, has already realized increased open rates in some e-mail campaigns, particularly those with coupons attached to customized offers based on interests customers revealed in prior campaigns, Ruggeri says.

Eventually, he expects customized e-mails to help build relationships between customers and managers of stores whenever Performance finds e-mail recipients living nearby one of its more than 50 bike shops across the U.S. “We’ll get more sophisticated as we see the return on e-mail marketing campaigns and can judge the ROI based on increases in sales in different channels,” he says.

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