Exploiting the strength of online marketing can produce exceptional offline results.

That’s the message a Toronto audience heard at a recent Association of Internet Marketing and Sales (AIMS) panel discussion from company executives who have successfully integrated the differing worlds

of online and offline commerce.

Michael Seaton, director of e-marketing at Scotiabank, used his own firm as a case study to show the strengths and rewards of integrating on- and offline marketing.

Given informed, demanding consumers and the commodification of financial products, it’s easy to understand how important it is for banks to build and maintain relationships over the long haul, said Seaton.

“”At Scotiabank, my team was charged with building a sustainable and profitable electronic contact strategy for our customers. E-mail marketing has had a positive impact on our customer base and . . . we’ve translated that into a new revenue stream.””

Scotiabank turned to e-mail because of its ability to deliver the bank’s brand in a frequent and measurable way. That meant the creation of The Vault, an online, permission-based newsletter sent exclusively to Scotiabank customers. Started in 2001, The Vault informs customers about personal financial matters, said Seaton, and has enjoyed a 98.5 per cent subscriber retention rate.

“”I must also mention that the key to our strategy has been linking these e-mail addresses that we’re collecting to unique customer profiles. This way we know who we’re talking to and how to create that one-to-one connection (for) the products and services we’re offering.””

Using in-house data modelling to identify probable mortgage customers, Scotiabank then matches that person against its Vault subscriber base, prompting an e-mail contact. The bank uses e-mail for two reasons, Seaton explained. It’s low cost and provides an excellent mode of interaction, capturing a qualified customer’s immediate interest.

Scotiabank then switches that interest to the customer’s local branch for follow-up.

The bank has exceeded all of its expectations with this program, said Seaton. Some 54 per cent of all leads were converted to a closed mortgage within six months of the campaign, and branches across the country have saved more than 85 per cent of the effort they would have put into prospecting.

Publishers are also finding creative ways to reach their audience through the Internet by combining various media. Mirabel Palmer-Elliott, general manager at Today’s Parent, said when she arrived at Rogers Media about five years ago there were silos and suspicion. Now, every department talks to each other about everything.

To highlight the change at Rogers, she showed a graphic that demonstrated how far integration has come at that company. Todaysparent.com’s initiatives are linked to the magazine’s sponsorship of events and its own Today’s Parent Kid Summer. They, in turn, are meshed with the magazine itself.

Last fall, said Palmer-Elliott, Today’s Parent tackled the subject of childhood obesity. It integrated an editorial package of more than 30 pages in the magazine itself, the publication’s home page on the Web, coverage on Rogers’ Omni TV and 680 News, and in one of its major business to business titles, The Medical Post.

Rogers wanted to exploit the strengths of each medium, Palmer-Elliott told panel audience. For instance, the magazine profiled people and programs that are spreading the word about nutrition and keeping children active, and 680 News covered the topic from a hard news perspective.

“”What we did online was, we built tools that could live online (forever). We provided a quiz for families to assess their nutrition and their physical activity levels. Based on the results of the quiz, it recommended things they could do to address their nutrition and their activity levels,”” she said.

Today’s Parent also created an online viral campaign on childhood obesity, leading to a short Flash presentation on the topic at its Web site, Palmer-Elliott continued, digressing to point out the strength of viral marketing. One viral contest Rogers ran on another topic generated 90,000 unique entries, she said.

Comment: pipeline@itbusiness.ca

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