Ask Travis Bonneteau, email marketing specialist at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? about what his favourite email campaign was in the past year and he’ll tell you about the one with a six-foot-tall walkie-talkie and a mummified cat.

“It must have been a movie prop,” Bonneteau speculates about the novelty-sized radio. He doesn’t have any explanation for the cat.

What he does know is that it made great content for his January email campaign created with IBM Corp.’s Silverpop, a cloud service for email marketing. The email recapped all the weird junk picked up by 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s waste collection service over the past year and offered customers a discount code to use if they had weird junk of their own to dispose of.

“It was a huge hit,” he says. “A lot of people wanted us to create a store to sell some of the stuff.”

It was just one of many emails in a year – 12 million individual messages, actually – that Bonneteau codes in Silverpop for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. He’s been using it since he joined the company last March, and the company has been using it for more than two years. Today, it’s a key piece of its marketing strategy, designed to hook first-time customers and bring them back as repeat

1-800-GOT-JUNK workers have picked up cats from clients - both of the mummified and living variety. The kitten here was found in a discarded fridge and appropriately named 'Freon.'
1-800-GOT-JUNK? workers have picked up cats from clients – both of the mummified and living variety. The kitten here was found in a discarded fridge and appropriately named ‘Freon.’

customers and maybe even company advocates.

Silverpop, an Atlanta-based firm that IBM completed its acquisition of in May 2014, is an email marketing platform that allows marketers to create user segments and then automatically target those segments with personalized content. One of the software’s big draws is that it offers so many different options on how to build those segments in a way that makes sense to different businesses, says Dave Walters, strategic marketing evangelist for Silverpop.

“Anything we know about a customer could be used as fodder for dynamic content,” he says. “Literally anything you’d want to segment out your customers by that lives in that the data structure, that can be done.”

Marketers typically build segmentation groups based on demographic information like age, sex, and geography, but behaviour-based segments are another option. For example, creating a segment for a customer that’s browsed a company website but never actually bought anything, and another segment for a customer that’s made a previous purchase.

When it comes to adding personalization to email campaigns, Walters advocates that a dash is more effective than a dollop.

“The biggest challenge is not to over-think personalization. Don’t get yourself into this crazy world,” he says. “Do you want four versions of your email, or do you want 32 versions of your email?”

For Bonneteau, segmentation is done by zip codes based on the location of the nearest 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise locations. Each one gets a customized email with relevant content for their area. For example, a recent email to customers served by the Toronto franchise marketed a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Foundation. The branch was holding a Yardsale For The Cure event, selling some of the items it collected to raise money for the charity.

“It helped last year; we had a record turnout,” Bonneteau says. “Instead of us throwing the junk in the trash, we were able to sell some of the things off and help a great cause. It makes us part of the community as well.”

Segmentation is also done to create groups of realtors and contractors, some of the best customers of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. They receive special discounts and simplified pricing to help match their business needs.

At 1-800-GOT-JUNK's Yardsale for the Cure event in 2014, a blue mascot surveys some of the cabinets for sale.
At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s Yardsale for the Cure event in 2014, a blue mascot surveys some of the cabinets for sale.

In each of its emails, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? makes it easy for customers to spread the word with embedded social media buttons. Rather than simply link to its social media properties – the company has a Facebook page, and a Twitter profile for example – Bonneteau programs a clear call to action to be made on social media.

It’s a perfect strategy, says Walters. With the click of a button, a customer can have a social media message populated with the text written by a marketer and send it out to their friends. That serves as a point of social proof for the business.

“They’ve not only created that little bit of earned media or social proof, but they’re actually using it to pass along coupons,” he says. “It’s that kind of magic digital marketing moment when you have an action by an advocate, timeliness, and an offer that closes the deal.”

To further help with that digital marketing magic, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? is currently integrating Silverpop with its customer relationship management (CRM) software. That will allow it to expand the use of the platform to two other brands operated by the company – You Move Me and Wow 1 Day Painting.

By building out a connection to the CRM, Bonneteau says even more automation features will be possible, such as activating an email nurture program for someone that asks for an estimate on the website.

Integration with CRM is something about one-third of Silverpop customers have achieved, Walters says. The service supports a flexible database structure, so marketers can identify unique customers in their CRM and link them back to Silverpop email campaigns with the press of a button.

“There’s a single view of the customer and sales can take action on those customers,” he says.

If there was one thing about Silverpop that Bonneteau would like to see improved, it’s the reporting capability.

“It’s user-friendly, but it doesn’t give me the data I’m looking for,” he says. Instead, he uses an Excel add-on to output the data to a spreadsheet and he can dig up what’s needed there.

Still, Bonneteau isn’t anywhere near ready to send Silverpop to the scrap heap. His $50,000 annual fee for the 12 million emails sent is well worth it, he says. “I couldn’t see any reason to leave Silverpop. They do everything we need to do and it’s a great price and the customer service is second to none.”

Anyway, it’s a lot better than trying to communicate with customers using the six-foot-tall walkie-talkie.

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