In previous decades, consumers struggled to find reliable, trustworthy local businesses and contractors. Today, however, crowdsourced online reviews keep companies on their toes and ready to please. When it comes to connecting consumers with the reliable products and services they need most, few services have leveled the playing field quite like Angie’s List. In other words, the brand understands the importance of providing the right message at the right time.
This month, we sat down with Jeff Carl, eCommerce Marketing Manager at Angie’s List. He filled us in on what the brand has been doing to achieve responsive design, how data is improving customer segmentation and his predictions for email marketing’s next big challenge in connecting with subscribers.
TowerData: How has Angie’s List email marketing changed or evolved just since you’ve been with the company?
Jeff Carl: Probably the biggest change has been identifying customer segments, and trying to convey the appropriate message to the right people. And now we’re trying to be smarter about sending people what they actually want to see instead of just sending what we think is most important to them.
TD: What technologies and strategies are you using to achieve better segmentation?
JC: We base a lot of our segmentation on our subscriber’s email behavior, such as how they interact with our emails. We’re working toward building a profile of customers, that includes several data sources.
TD: There’s been a lot of changes in business and the marketplace with the growth of mobile and new trends. How has your email program evolved to address some of these changes?
JC: About this time last year we re-designed all of our emails to be mobile responsive. We were a little late to the game-we had a lot of users accessing email on mobile devices even before last year. After we optimized our email design for mobile, we saw a huge increase in engagement. Unfortunately the site wasn’t as mobile responsive as it could have been, so conversions were not as high. This year we’ve developed a new app, so we’re going to direct users to the app for a more mobile-friendly experience.
TD: What are some of the specific changes you’ve made to make emails more mobile-friendly and responsive?
JC: We’ve always had a user-friendly grid layout. So, the only real major change we’ve made to the design is how the elements line up on the page. We’ve always used a 2 X 6 grid of items. We just had to tweak it to be a single column design for easy mobile scrolling.
TD: How has third party data changed or improved your strategy?
JC: The biggest thing we’ve gained from data is a better understanding of what our customers want and need. There’s a lot of unique products and home services, and not everyone will benefit from all of them. Obviously, it’s important not to send someone a pool deal if they don’t own a pool because that’s not very relevant to them. But, we use data to be even more sophisticated. For example, if someone is in a rented apartment, they won’t be able to do some things a homeowner would do. Or maybe they live in a historic neighborhood where they can’t do a lot of exterior painting because the neighborhood association won’t allow those changes.
That level of data, that level of sophistication is our end goal. Third party data is helping us take the steps to get there.
TD: What are some the big challenges that you guys are facing in 2015?
JC: The biggest challenge, I think, is consolidating our data. We’re working to get everything in one place so it’s centralized and organized for all of our business units. We have a lot of different things that we want to provide for our members, and having a more holistic idea of our members, based on data, is our objective.
TD: What are some of the tools and technologies that you guys are using?
JC: Right now we’re working to get APIs to transfer the data in a way that provides us with real-time results. We’re striving to get all of our transfers to happen instantaneously to get the right message out to the consumer as fast as possible.
TD: What would you say are some of the most important data fields for Angie’s List? What is the most important piece of customer information?
JC: Obviously having knowledge of subscriber data, so email address and all that. Aside, it would probably be more of the demographic information so how old is someone’s house, what neighborhood they live in. A lot of our stuff is really specific to neighborhoods or least climate regions. It’s obviously snowing where I’m at and most of the country but we don’t want to send a snow-removal deal to someone who actually lives in Florida, even though their profile, for whatever reason, might say something different than that.
TD: What are some of the hot trends that you guys are anticipating this year? What do you think’s going to be the next big thing in email marketing?
JC: Oh, boy. Email apps – like Google inbox. There’s a shift happening in the way people consume their email. I don’t know what exactly that’s going to look like for email marketers yet, but there’s no doubt we’ll have to make some changes. Mobile is one thing, but linking into everyone’s apps, it’s going to affect the way we create emails. As usual, we’re all just trying to keep up with Google!
As Angie’s List knows, data is the key to email marketing success. Learn how another company used consumer data to increase open rates by nearly 13%!