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Our relationship with email marketing campaigns is a complicated one. On one hand, it’s an important aspect to any company’s visibility and it’s one of the best ways to inform the audience of current contests, promotions or site updates. On the other hand, I am certainly guilty of spamming email after email out of my personal inbox.

Most companies specializing in email campaigns are struggling to get past the spam folder but are stuck sending mass messages to vastly different people, but not SimpleRelevance.

The marketing company set out to be a cut above the rest of their competitors by creating specific emails for each diverse client base rather than casting out a wide net hoping to catch an array of customers. Founder Erik Severinghaus talked to me about what SimpleRelevance is about and what’s next for the company.

What is SimpleRelevance?

Our name really explains a lot. SimpleRelevance makes it very easy for companies to send relevant, targeted emails to their customers. These days, most companies send identical “batch and blast” emails to their diverse customer base. Customers today expect emails that are relevant to them. If a company send us their customer email list, we can help them easily send emails that include personalized product recommendations for each individual. We also personalize the subject lines and the time of day each email is sent so that each email speaks to their customers on a one to one basis.

 

 

How do you build personalized messages?

We pair each email address with third party data (age, demographics, income, locations, interests from social media) with a company’s own sales data to create individualized, data driven content. The best part is that our recommendation engines get better with time. For example, did your customer purchase a winter coat for their nine-month-old son this past winter? Our engine would include product recommendations for spring items for 12-month-old children in the next email. Did certain subject lines work on the last campaign for individual customers? We make sure to use those on the next campaign.

Our company invests heavily in building complex analytical equations. But we know that most of our customers don’t have a PhD in statistics. We love the fact that our customers have access to our expertise in data analytics, yet the only thing they see is beautifully designed, highly targeted emails that are proven to increase sales.

 

 

What was the inspiration?

I received an email from Amazon few years ago with personalized music recommendations. They were spot on - it was as if they knew me and my music taste better than I knew myself! I wanted regular companies to have access to this same level of analytics and personalization at a fraction of the price.

What success have you seen so far?

The success we have seen on the client side has been remarkable. We send our customers weekly reports showing how much money our emails made them that week. The best part is that if our emails don’t generate more sales than they cost to send, then we don’t charge them. We set up the revenue guarantee because we are extremely confident in our belief that smarter emails drive more sales.

On average, we have seen increases in conversion rates of 51 percent, increases in open rates of 21 percent, and increases in click rates of 29 percent. When we included our technology into the email of a large US sportswear company we saw revenue increases of over 50 percent within the first few weeks.

 

 

The longer customers stay with us, the more data we can gather, and the more sales we can generate from each campaign.

What was your biggest failure to date?

We tried to start off as a B2C company, using our technology to improve customers’ email inbox experience. We realized pretty quickly that we’re much better at working with companies than trying to focus on the consumer side.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs?

Spend less time being worried about raising money and more time trying to get market traction. At the end of the day, if you figure out how to get people using (and especially paying for) your product or service, you’ll be in a much better spot when you consider fundraising.

What's next for SimpleRelevance?

We are very excited and honored to be a part of the 2013 class of Chicago TechStars. We love continuing to drive innovation and intelligence into our current products and being a part of this program will help us to do this at an even faster rate.

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