Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui, Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

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Retailer Boosts Online Sales with Specialty Emails, Social Media

Powell’s Books, one of the nation’s largest booksellers, is boosting online sales with a new email campaign that delivers book recommendations based on customer’s favorite topics.

Launched in February, Powell’s Subject Newsletter has already returned open rates of more than 70 percent by delivering subscribers monthly book recommendations in up to 10 subject areas based on their identified subject interests.

“The Subject Newsletters are proof positive that the more focused the content, the more likely customers are to interact,” said Sam Whitmore, Powell’s Books’ online marketing developer. “In our first four emails, we saw open rates and click throughs higher than any of our other emails.”

The company, which began its email marketing efforts in 1999, offers book aficionados a suite of seven email newsletters ranging from a book review a day to a listing of its recently arrived used books. Collectively, Powell’s sends more than 27 million emails every year to its growing subscriber list that now tops more than 500,000 book readers.

The move to personalize the content of its emails comes as Powell’s expands the reach of its emails and online marketing efforts with social media. Through its email newsletters and Website, the company encourages customers and site visitors to follow the company in online social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, for the latest book news and promotional offers from the Portland-based retailer.

One of its most recent social media efforts was aimed at driving subscriptions for its Specials email newsletter. The company posted a note on its Facebook page offering an exclusive offer for fans who signed up for the newsletter. In return, new subscribers received a $5 off coupon for their next online purchase.

The result, Whitmore said, was a “huge success”, adding more than 400 new email subscribers over the six-day promotion. Since the promotion, Powell’s Books has grown its Facebook fan page from 12,000 fans to more than 22,700.

“Allowing subscribers to choose what messages they wish to receive and providing them a forum to interact through social media has allowed Powell’s Books to extend the reach of the email marketing efforts and build stronger relationships with their customers,” said Tim Kopp, ExactTarget’s chief marketing officer. “Using ExactTarget’s sophisticated one-to-one communications platform, our clients have the ability to connect with customers via email, text messaging, voice messaging, social media and online landing pages.”

The bookseller’s successful email and social media strategy comes less than a month after ExactTarget released a joint study with Ball State University and the Email Marketer’s Club that found marketers plan to increase their use of social media and email in tandem by nearly 350 percent. The entire study is available online at www.exacttarget.com/listgrowth.

About Powell's Books and Powells.com

An independent bookseller since 1971, Powell's serves the Portland, Oregon, area with four general bookstores and two specialty stores. Its flagship store takes up an entire city block, offering 68,000 square feet of used, new, rare, and out-of-print books. Online since 1994, Powells.com offers the combined inventory of its six retail locations and five warehouses — approximately four million books in all. The site features exclusive author interviews and essays, as well as a stable of internationally respected book reviewers and content partners. For more information, visit www.powells.com.

About ExactTarget

ExactTarget, Inc. is a leading provider of on-demand email marketing software solutions. The company’s on-demand one-to-one marketing applications enable clients to send business-critical and event triggered communications to increase sales, optimize marketing investments and strengthen customer relationships. ExactTarget offers four editions of its on-demand software application along with integrated solutions such as ExactTarget for Salesforce.com AppExchange, ExactTarget for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ExactTarget for Omniture Genesis. ExactTarget offers a range of optimization services including support, implementation and training, integration, deliverability, account management, design and deployment and strategic consulting. ExactTarget’s software powers permission-based email communications for thousands of organizations including CareerBuilder.com, Expedia.com, Florida Power & Light, Gannett Co., Inc/USA TODAY, the Indianapolis Colts, The Home Depot, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Liberty Mutual Group, Papa John’s and Wellpoint, Inc. For more information, please visit www.exacttarget.com or call 1-866-EMAILET.

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