E-mail Marketing and YouTube – How NCCE Breaks the Cycle of Crime, One E-mail or YouTube Video at a Time

E-mail Marketing and YouTube – How NCCE Breaks the Cycle of Crime, One E-mail or YouTube Video at a Time
By Anthony Jones, Sales & Marketing Manager, North Carolina Correction Enterprises

E-mail marketing is not something new to North Carolina Correction Enterprises (NCCE), as we’ve been using it for nearly five years.   What is new is how we are using e-mail marketing and YouTube to better target our e-marketing message and more effectively tell the “Correction Enterprises” story.

Five years ago, NCCE adopted a “shotgun” approach to e-mail marketing.  All e-mail blasts went to everyone in our database.  For example, an e-mail promoting K-12 school furniture was sent out to everyone … not just customers in school districts.  As you can imagine, this was not an effective approach and it actually turned out to be counter-productive as our customers and prospects stopped opening our e-mail because most of the time, the message or promotion didn’t pertain to them.

Additionally, the e-mail strategy (if you can call it that) was very one-way in nature, meaning that an e-mail was sent out and then we just waited for the phone to ring.  There was no reporting available to show who had actually received the e-mail, who opened it, etc.  So, we had no idea how effective the e-mail campaign was or if we could track any sales from it.  Return on Investment?  It was non-existent.

Another issue was the management of the ever-growing database of e-mails … keeping them up-to-date and managing opt-outs.  The “old way” was time-consuming and required manual entry and updating of e-mail addresses.

About a year ago, that all changed.  NCCE started from scratch and rebuilt the entire e-mail database.  Many e-mail addresses were up to five years old and many were undeliverable, however, there wasn’t a good system to delete the undeliverable e-mail addresses and replace them with current e-mail addresses.

In January 2010, NCCE started using an e-mail service that provided a system to upload new or up-to-date e-mail addresses, quickly delete undeliverable e-mail and allow for any recipient to “opt-out” of any future e-mail blasts.  With this new system, the long, tedious task of managing the large e-mail database ended and a more fluid process was put in place.  Now, NCCE has over 18,000 active e-mail addresses for customers and prospects.

Another feature of the e-mail service is that it allows NCCE to target selected groups of e-mail recipients to receive targeted e-mail messages.  For example, one e-mail promoted NCCE’s new executive chair that is approved for use in North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Green Square Building.  Since only purchasing managers from DENR would be interested in this promotion, they were the only recipients (not all 18,000 e-mail addresses in the database).    The e-mail message speaks directly to the recipients needs and results in higher open and click-thru rates … which ultimately lead to more sales.  The “shotgun” approach is history … NCCE sales and marketing staff are now “snipers.”

E-mail sent to DENR Purchasing Managers promoting the Onslow Mesh Back Executive Chair which is approved for use in the DENR Green Square Building

Building on the new “sniper” approach, NCCE receives a report after every e-mail blast showing which recipients opened the e-mail, who forwarded it, and who clicked through.  Armed with this critical information, NCCE sales staff can follow-up with those recipients that showed the most interest.  For example, if someone opened the e-mail and clicked on a link several times, they may be ready to purchase, but something may be holding them up.  Most of the time, a phone call is all it takes to answer a question and move the customer through the sales cycle to a purchase decision.

Certain e-mails are also sent out with specific promotional codes and coupons (the e-mail service has a “coupon” function).  For example, the 222 Quick Copy Campaign featured 2 cent copies, shipped in 2 days for 2 months.  The promo code was “222” and had to be mentioned in order to get the discount.  So, even if the customer chose to call in the order … rather than click-thru and place the order on the Web site … NCCE can attribute that sale to the e-mail campaign.  Now, accurate return on investment (ROI) can be calculated.

The 222 Quick Copy Campaign used the “222” promo code. No matter how
the e-mail recipient placed the order, the sale is attributed to this e-mail

While this new e-mail system has advanced NCCE’s sales and marketing efforts light years ahead of the old system, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  As mentioned before, you can’t just send out e-mails, sit back and wait for the phone to ring.  E-mail marketing is just one piece of the sales and marketing mix.  After every e-mail goes out, NCCE sales staff proactively follow-up … e-mail is good at opening doors, a trained sales professional is needed to keep it open.

E-mail is also used to help support another part of the marketing mix – tradeshows, conferences and presentations.  NCCE participates in over 30 tradeshows a year and easily makes hundreds of presentations to current customers and prospects.  Before e-mail, NCCE sales staff would come back from an event with multiple business cards and even contact information written on the back of whatever was available to write on.  Sales staff would then try to manage a follow-up system that was pieced together, not cohesive and lacked a consistent branding strategy.  Now, after an event, a focused e-mail is sent to the participants followed by a phone call.

Speaking of a consistent branding strategy … the new e-mail service is flexible enough to change the content of the e-mail and mix up the layout while maintaining several key messages and branding elements, including:

  • NCCE Logo, Web site and phone number is always prominently displayed in the e-mail.
  • Link to the Correction Enterprises Story video on YouTube
  • “Breaking the cycle of crime…” jingle

The YouTube video and jingle are critical to the success of our e-mail campaigns, as well as our overall sales and marketing efforts.    The Correction Enterprises Story is an eleven minute video that NCCE posted to YouTube.  Every e-mail that goes out contains a link to this YouTube video showing the customer or prospect that NCCE is more than just an organization that is trying to sell them furniture, frames or copies.  The video features inmate worker success stories, interviews with NCCE customers and most importantly, it effectively shares NCCE’s mission with the viewer, who then realizes that they can be part of this mission … part of the solution … by considering NCCE when making a purchasing decision.   Once someone knows our mission, they normally respond with, “how can I help?”

The video also highlights the variety of products and services available through NCCE.  This helps overcome the perception that all NCCE produces is license plates.  For example, one of the major decision makers with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction watched the video and noticed NCCE trucks making deliveries.   This triggered an idea and the Department of Public Instruction asked NCCE if they could deliver textbooks from their central warehouse in Raleigh to every the school district in the state.  As a result, NCCE won a six year contract to deliver textbooks state-wide, and as a bonus NCCE will be able to save the Department of Public Instruction nearly $180,000 a year.

To reinforce the mission, each e-mail that is sent out contains the “Breaking the cycle of crime…” jingle.  Any product or service can be worked into this jingle.  For example, an e-mail promoting custom framing contains the jingle “Breaking the cycle of crime, one frame at a time.”  The next e-mail has the jingle, but “frame” is swapped out with “chair,” “copy,” “delivery” … and so on.

Every e-mail that goes out from NCCE contains the “Breaking the cycle of crime…” jingle

Before using YouTube, NCCE sales staff would need to either send the DVD or try to set up an appointment and show the DVD to a customer or prospect.  And while those face-to-face meetings still occur, the reach of the video through YouTube is increased exponentially.  It’s almost like you have a supplemental sales person working the entire Internet, 24/7.  And when used with e-mail and other electronic communication channels, it becomes a very powerful marketing tool.

For more on NCCE’s YouTube efforts, please see the next article, www.correctionenterprises.com … A Dynamic, Data-Driven Web Site that is Still Evolving.

The bottom line is that e-mail and YouTube are helping NCCE increase its revenue and the more we can provide for the needs of our customers, the more we can do to further our mission of breaking the cycle of crime.

For more information on NCCE’s e-mail marketing and YouTube videos, please contact Tony Jones at 919-716-3657 or anthony.jones@doc.nc.gov.