April 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

J.C. Whitney’s social alert e-mails get 50% click-through rates

J.C. Whitney is leveraging social networking features on its site in event-triggered, individualized e-mails that produced open rates of 100% and unique click-through rates of 50% during the initial period of use, the retailer says.

Automotive products retailer J.C. Whitney & Co. is leveraging social networking features on its site in event-triggered, individualized e-mails that produced open rates of 100% and unique click-through rates of 50% during the initial period of use, the retailer says.

JCWhitney.com is using the integrated services of e-mail service vendor Responsys Inc. and ratings and review services vendor Bazaarvoice Inc. Integrating Responsys` Interact campaign management application with Bazaarvoice’s Ratings & Reviews and Ask & Answer features is producing social alert e-mail the retailer hopes will build brand loyalty, customer engagement and buyer confidence. The Ask & Answer feature allows site visitors to post a question about a product to be answered by the customer community.

The program automatically triggers an e-mail to site visitors who’ve submitted a product review or who have asked a question for the community to answer. The automated e-mails go out whenever a review goes live on the site or when an answer to a visitor’s question has been posted. “We’ve seen anecdotal data that customers who post a review generally come back to see it there when the review goes live. We thought this would help the process,” says Pete LaBore, e-marketing director for Whitney.

Two weeks into implementation, Whitney is measuring the program’s impact in open rates and click-through rates on the triggered e-mails, but LaBore says in the future he’ll gather other metrics such as how customer engagement with the site and purchases differ between those who’ve contributed content to the site and received social alerts and other customers who have not. LaBore also says that once the program yields more data, he can start to use the submission of content as an indicator of customer engagement with the site, which will provide another way to segment larger e-mail campaigns.

“This is a low-cost interaction, but our open rates show that it`s bringing customers back,” he says. “We will see if this then helps generate more dollars for us.”

J.C. Whitney is No. 111 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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