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For several weeks now, you’ve been reading elsewhere on this site about CRM in email marketing, thanks to Kim MacPherson. This column has focused more on the nuts and bolts of specific email marketing campaigns – how companies have used rich media, how content has been taken from print and adapted into email newsletters, etc. Now, it’s time to merge the two.

First, let me get one thing straight. I am not a customer service expert. I know a lot about email, but when it comes to building the relationship between you and your customers, I don’t have any special insight. As a consumer, however, I know what makes me happy, and that’s why I was impressed with a recent email campaign run by Ticketmaster.com. It was designed to foster the bond between buyer and seller.

Ticketmaster.com teamed up with e-Dialog, an email marketing service provider, to send email messages to consumers after the sale, rather than before. Not only did the campaign spawn a large volume of positive responses (an average of almost half of the emails received some sort of response, from click-throughs to the site to questions from recipients), it generated significant sales of additional merchandise.

Here’s how it worked. When Bruce Springsteen (affectionately known as The Boss) recently reunited with the E Street Band, he scheduled 15 shows at the Meadowlands in New Jersey as part of the kickoff for the U.S. portion of the tour. About 14,000 of his fans purchased tickets online through the Ticketmaster.com box office. So, right there, Ticketmaster.com had a hefty database of opt-in customers who had agreed to receive email from the ticketing giant.

Yet, it’s what Ticketmaster.com and e-Dialog did with that database that’s interesting. Rather than simply thanking customers for their purchases, the companies launched a three-message campaign that took CRM to a higher level.

The first message was sent shortly after the ticket purchase, and it started off with the typical follow-up, “Thanks for using Ticketmaster.com to buy your tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming U.S. tour launch…” But instead of stopping there, it went on to provide links to relevant web sites, including Tour Talk and the CitySearch New York Visitor’s Guide. (And yes, this is a bit of self-serving promotion, since Ticketmaster.com and CitySearch are two parts of the same corporation. As I put myself in the place of the consumer, though, I still see it as potentially useful information.)

The second message (132k, may take a moment to open) sent three days before the performance, contained directions to the stadium, a seating chart, a recap of the first leg of the tour, tips for what to do if tickets were lost or stolen, and more links to related sites, such as Matt’s Bruce Springsteen Discography. Of course, this message wasn’t solely informational; the email also featured links for purchasing four Springsteen CDs.

The third message, shipped right after the show, featured a play list for the particular show the individual saw, links to message boards, and a short review of the tour from a third party such as The New York Post. It also featured tour merchandise available for sale online.

While the campaign was successful (it generated a 20 percent conversion rate of customers who clicked through to buy merchandise offered in the latter two messages), it also can be considered a success in that, on average, 47 percent of recipients responded in some way, either by clicking through or emailing Ticketmaster.com with questions such as, “How do I get the play list from the second show?” So many of these ad hoc responses came in that e-Dialog relied on a team of four to five staffers to answer the queries. Plus, according to e-Dialog, the opt-out rate was less than three percent.

So when your company focuses on building an effective CRM model, don’t forget about email marketing. You may just find yourself singing “Glory Days.”

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