Blog : Relationship marketing

Five strategies for a healthy marketing database

Five strategies for a healthy marketing database

If you want a healthy marketing database, don’t be shy

A healthy marketing database requires constant upkeep, or it will degrade fast. The causes of this degradation are many: Customers become inactive. Implied consents expire. People unsubscribe. As a result, your relationship marketing program falters, no longer delivering the sales growth needed to ensure the continued prosperity of the company.

On the other hand, this common challenge is not entirely inevitable. It is possible to ensure a steady growth in the number of customers that can be reached by email. Simply implement these five key strategies. As you put them into action, you will quickly see your database grow and your sales increase.

1 – Capture your website traffic

 Many brands are too timid when it comes to collecting email addresses from visitors on their website. More often than not, they simply add a sign-up field at the bottom of the footer. The call-to-action is simply “subscribe to our newsletter”. Yet, according to recent statistics, 95% of visitors will never come back to your site. Hence the importance of identifying them in order to convert them.

But the question is How? And the answer is simply by putting together a well-designed set of acquisition tools. Among these tools, a clear call to action on promotional pages: “sign up to receive our deals, promotions, information and news”. To this, you’ll add the ubiquitous pop-ups, slide-ins, and other effective tools to get people to register.

But beware! Make sure that the trigger rules for these tools allow time for the visitor to engage with your content before appearing. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time.

2 – Take advantage of implied consent

 To maintain a healthy marketing database, you should include all active customers. But many brands are reluctant to do so. The main cause: there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the application of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). And yet it is very clear that you can communicate with your customers for 24 months following the last transaction. You do not need express consent or hard opt-in to do so.

That being said, you must document this implied consent by capturing the most recent transaction (date and time, consent source, etc.). You then need to put in place a process that manages consent expiry at the end of the 24 months.

3 – Convert to express consent

Express consent does not expire. You can communicate with customers who provided consent until they unsubscribe. You should set up a conversion series that starts shortly after the latest transaction and continues until the expiry date of the implied consent at the end of the 24-month period. Be sure to emphasize the benefits of subscribing to your emails. And don’t call them newsletters!

4 – Reactivate using other channels

When your customers become inactive, in other words, when they no longer engage with your emails, it’s time to take action. Remove them from your regular campaigns and add them to a reactivation program. Create an “audience” using their email addresses and reach out to them using social and digital media.

You can also offer them exclusive deals and incentives to convert them to express consent. Lastly, once or twice a year, try to reactivate them through email with a bonus offer – the best of the year, plus any bonus.

5 – Involve front-line employees

Employees in your stores, customer care centers and elsewhere are a great acquisition source for you. Offering to send your customers a copy of the invoice by email is an effective way to do this.

On the other hand, the best way – because it is very transparent and motivating – is to offer customers savings on their next purchases by receiving the best offers and promotions by email. Express verbal consent is valid but must be well documented. Be sure to send a confirmation email to anyone who subscribes this way. The purpose of this email is to confirm consent and to provide an opportunity to unsubscribe as required by law.

ABC – Always Be Converting

 Ultimately, the best way to ensure a healthy marketing database is to capture customer emails at every opportunity and with every interaction. After all, customers expect attentive and personalized service. So how can you provide such service if you treat them like strangers? Take the time to get to know your customers and watch your sales explode!

Related content

CASL: Canadian anti-spam legislation – Are you truly ready?

Marketing ROI – How to accurately evaluate campaign performance

Marketing ROI – How to accurately evaluate campaign performance

Accountability and marketing ROI go hand in hand

Marketing ROI is becoming the number one metric for evaluating campaign success. And for good reason: Marketing spend is increasingly under pressure for greater accountability.

For this reason, campaign profitability analysis is essential. So is the need for optimization. ROI is often equated with profitability and traditionally stands for “Return on Investment”.

But if you search for the definition of marketing ROI on the Web, you’ll notice that we don’t all share a common view of what ROI actually looks like.

Not only that but the definition marketers might use may have nothing to do with one that your CFO has in mind. That’s why measuring ROI can become a source of friction and cast doubt on the true contribution of marketing to the bottom line.

Marketing ROI – a commonly-used definition

The definition of marketing ROI generally refers to gross ROI. It looks at total sales made as a result of a given campaign, compared to the total cost of the campaign (media, creative and other direct costs).

The formula is simple:

Total sales ÷ campaign costs = ROI.

ROI can be expressed as a percentage, or as a multiple. A campaign with sales of $ 1,000 and a cost $ 100, has an ROI of 10X or 1,000%.

$1000 ÷ $100 = 10X

A dollar revenue for a dollar in costs would have a 100% ROI or a 1X multiple. Nothing lost, nothing gained.

10X is not always good, and 1X is not always bad

It is important to put this metric into perpective. Depending on the nature of the campaign, a 1X yield may be excellent or crappy.

  • For example, in the case of a customer acquisition campaign, the acquisition cost often exceeds the value of the first purchase. So, a neutral, or even a negative ROI is to be expected.
  • In the case of a campaign sent to your most engaged customers, there’s something wrong if your ROI doesn’t reach 10X or even 50X.

But beware: sales do not equal profits

The challenge with this commonly-used definition is that it does not take into account the profit margin of the product sold. Most goods have a cost. The cost of raw materials, R & D, packaging, etc. should normally be taken into account in the Marketing ROI calculation.

For example, let’s say that a product that has a cost of 40% of the selling price. That’s 40 ¢ per dollar of sales. In that case, every dollar of sales actually only generates 60 ¢ in revenue. Therefore, a more accurate marketing ROI calculation should be based 60% off the sales amount.

So if we take this into account for the previous example:

Campaign creates $1,000 in sales

Product cost is $400

The net revenue generated is $600

With a campaign cost of $100, the net ROI is now 600% or 6X (instead of 100% or 10X)

So, if the campaign results in $ 1 in sales per dollar invested, the Marketing ROI is negative. Once you subtract the cost of the product, the net revenue is only 60¢ and so you would lose 40¢ profit for each dollar in sales generated.

Sometimes Gross ROI serves us well

Even if it is not totally accurate, the calculation of gross ROI is often useful. It makes it possible to compare campaigns amongst each other, without having to calculate the profit margin of each product sold or determine a blended margin.

However, when campaign performance is marginal, a net ROI analysis allows us to make better decisions about resource allocation and serves to raise a red flag for campaigns that need to be optimized.

Related content

ROI and Effectiveness – Do You Truly Understand the Difference?

A/B Testing – How to implement a winning strategy

A/B Testing – How to implement a winning strategy

Yes, we can learn to love statistics and A/B testing

I am a big fan of optimization and A/B testing. But that was not always the case. When I was studying for my MBA at HEC in the 1980s, the most challenging courses I enrolled in was Statistics and Probabilities. This course, loaded with obscure equations, was meaningless gibberish to me. And I couldn’t see how it could be useful in real life except maybe for surveys.

Ironically, a few years later, I found myself starting a career in direct marketing, an area where everything was based on statistical analysis, probabilities and confidence intervals.

I quickly learned the value of optimization testing, as well as some of the pitfalls that novices face. Here are some tips to help you better implement a testing strategy. Never fear, we’ll try not to bore you with statistical concepts and equations.

Foster an optimization culture

The most successful companies understand that small gains of a few percentage points can add up to big gains when compounded year after year.

They also understand that the marketer’s gut feel can only go so far.  And that our personal biases sometimes lead us to make the wrong decisions. After all, we are not representative of our customers. We must objectively validate our assumptions, through optimization testing. And to maximize our chances of success and growth, testing must become part of your DNA and your corporate culture.

Give yourself the right to make mistakes

The first step towards an optimization culture is to accept that some tests will give disappointing results. We must give ourselves the right to the error. We must also accept that our current practices may not be the best and that there is always room for improvement.

On the other hand, do not excess by multiplying frivolous tests, because each underperforming test means that your sales will be impacted.

Prioritize the A/B testing that will have the greatest impact

In this sense, we must test the hypotheses that are most likely to have a major impact on the commitment and sales. Among these, we can test:

  • Targeting a campaign to identify niche markets that are more receptive to the product / service
  • The elements of an offer (the price and the expression of this price, the incentives – deals, gifts, free delivery, contests, etc., the duration of the offer and the conditions of sale)
  • The structure of the emails, the type of content, the relative position of the elements – in particular the CTAs.
  • The graphic processing of emails including imagery and emotion emanating from it.

But do not overdo it, like testing one word vs. another, the color of a button, and so on. Use your good judgment.

Your optimization test must respect the rules of statistics

When performing optimization A/B tests, an estimate is made of the proportion of customers who will be likely to have a given purchasing behavior. If we repeat the test several times, we will observe a similar result, but different. The dispersion of these results around the mean is what is called the standard deviation.

What you need to know is that the larger the sample used in your tests, the smaller the standard deviation. So the more the result of your test is reliable. Make sure you are working with samples of sufficient size so that you can validate if the result of your test are actually different (better, or worse) from what you normally observe.

Also make sure you only change one variable at a time. You cannot change the target population, the product price and the creative concept and expect a statistically valid result.

Measure the profound impact of your tests

It is not enough to dwell on engagement rates (opening and clicking). You must also look at the conversion on the site (newsletter sign ups, potential leads, bid solicitations, purchases and customer retention) and the long-term impact on the health of the database.

It is an issue that is measured over several months, even years, and you have to be vigilant. We have already seen situations where a test before stimulated a very large increase in the recruitment of new clients, but poor quality clients whose loyalty was very low.

Create a results directory accessible to all

The knowledge that results from these optimization exercises is a competitive advantage and the result of these efforts must be preserved and made accessible to all stakeholders in the marketing team, or even senior management.

Create a secure directory that groups the results of each test. After just a few years, you will have accumulated valuable strategic information that will allow you to make better decisions. This will allow you to always go further, but also not to test the same hypotheses again. After all, repeating the same gestures while expecting a different result is the definition of madness.

Some statistical analysis resources

Confidence interval calculator

• Sample size calculator

Do you want to implement a successful optimization strategy? Contact us to discuss it.


The fundamentals of marketing automation effectiveness

The fundamentals of marketing automation effectiveness

Customer-centricity is the key

Why should we learn to master marketing automation fundamentals when we have so many other priorities? The answer is simple: in recent years, marketers have embarked on an epic quest for customer-centricity and one-on-one customer relationships. This quest has led to the development of large-scale marketing automation platforms.

These martech tools make it possible to trigger on-going campaigns according to the customers’ behavior. They also help marketers better understand where customers fall in their brand adoption journey.

But a tool is only a tool

You have to know what you’re doing in order to take advantage of it. You need to master marketing automation fundamentals that will lead to success. So here is a quick overview of the major categories of marketing automation programs. These are the cornerstones programs you’ll want to put in place in order to build strong and lasting relationships with your customers.

Marketing automation fundamentals: the building blocs of your program

Welcome series

This is one of the foundational elements of a marketing automation program. Begin each budding customer relationship by deploying a sequence of 3 or 4 emails. The series of email messages will be triggered when a new subscriber signs. These emails should communicate the essence of your brand and the experience you provide, rather than just push your products. When possible, add a welcome offer.

Send out these messages on a calendar of no more than 7 to 10 days. Test the period that best suits your industry. Do not start sending your offers until the last message in the series has been released.

Abandoned shopping cart

A customer who puts a product in their shopping cart but does not complete the transaction is your best prospect. According to a recent study, 87% of customers who abandon a shopping cart are likely to return if you contact them again. The sequence should contain three messages over a one-week period.

If shopping cart data recovery is a challenge, use a more generic message that refers to the shopping cart, without specifically mentioning the items in it. It is, by far, the most profitable automation program of all.

Nurturing series

A nurturingseries is used to establish your credibilityand reputation with a potential customer to help convert then to a buyer. In B2B, these series are used to cultivate the brand relationship before handing a lead off to sales.

As soon as the customer’s engagement reaches a certain threshold, the contact is referred to a sales person who will quickly follow up.

Conversion series

Rather than working on an ad hoc basis, your campaigns can run as programs that function for a pre-set length of time. The advantage of working in a program is that you can set up a customization rule-set. This rule-set adapts the email content and cadence according to individual customer behavior and engagement.

For example, create a different sequence for people who are less engaged. Another for those who open all your communications. Obviously, remove from the program customers buy and direct them to a post-purchase series (see below).

Triggered emails

The content viewed on your website by your customers says a lot about their interests and intent. Use this data to enrich their purchase profile. And to trigger an email for the product or category visited. Include a conversion offer as needed.

It’s a bit like retargeting in digital media without the cost of the media. And it works well without being too intrusive.

Post-purchase series

Every purchase made by your customers is more than a transaction. It is an opportunity to consolidate and deepen the relationship. A post-purchase series allows you to benefit from the anticipation period between the moment of purchase and the moment of product use.

Take the opportunity to offer advice on how to use and maintain the product in order to maximize customer satisfaction. Make sure to cross-sell by offering complementary products. Your best prospect is the customer who just bought.

Opt-in Campaigns

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) allows you to communicate with your active customers by email through implied consent. This consent extends for 24 months after the last transaction. To keep your database healthy, it’s important to ensure that you get express consent from your customers whenever possible.

Express consent does not expire and therefore makes it possible to conduct customer reactivation campaigns beyond the two years allowed by implied consent. This is especially important if your natural sales cycle typically exceeds 24 months.

Reactivation series

The last category of marketing automation programs allows you to systematically reactivate a healthy proportion of your inactive customers. Once or twice a year, trigger a campaign that offers a special deal to all your inactive customers (or to a segment of high value customers).

These programs should coincide with major sales periods offering the best deals of the year. Simply add a small bonus incentive, exclusively for them.

So, there you have it: the cornerstones of a well-designed marketing automation program. By implementing these marketing automation fundamentals, you will ensure that your business has more customers, more active and loyal customers and a healthy database.


Email marketing basics – What you need to know to get it right!

C’est quoi au juste : L’automatisation marketing

B2Me Marketing: What’s it all about

B2Me Marketing: What’s it all about

B2Me Marketing – helping people make better choices and get more enjoyment from whatever they buy.

As consumers, we are constantly faced with the challenges of too many choices and too much information broadcast across a cluttered and fragmented media landscape. Any attempt to guide people through their customer journey is totally useless if we can’t deliver the right message at the right time.

This short video explains how personalization can play en important role by increasing the relevance of your marketing messages. Personalization helps your customers make the informed choices that are best for them. In doing so, they will get more enjoyment out of everything they buy from you.



In the previous episode, I explained how marketing automation platforms can help you to better understand, interpret and use customer data that flows from your customers’ physical and digital behaviour.

And that with a relationship-marketing approach called B2Me, you can leverage behavioural customer data to create greater relevance and increase the impact of your marketing communications.

I also mentioned that with a B2Me marketing approach, you can help you customers to make better choices, showing them the products and services that are right for them, and helping them get more enjoyment out of everything they buy

But what exactly is B2Me™ marketing

D + E + C = B2Me

B2Me marketing is helping your customers make the right choices and get the most enjoyment out of everything they buy by leveraging customer data, your expertise and highly personalized and relevant content.

Many marketers struggle with the challenges of moving from the theory of relationship marketing to actually implementing a truly customer-centric strategy.

Schooled in the art of mass marketing, they’re challenged when comes time to make the switch to the new reality of the empowered customer, in control of the sales process and who don’t want to be told what they should want or buy.

We are all the same: we’re all unique!

Even though deep down, we’re all the same, we are also incredibly diverse and unique: unique in our needs and in the context of those needs, in our goals and motivations, in our physical attributes, our personality traits and so on.

These more or less subtle variations are what make humanity so richely diverse, but they also create a huge challenge for modern marketers who struggle to make their message relevant.

Universality versus personalization

While traditional mass marketing has always focused on creating a universal message that resonates with all customers, relationship marketers have a very different vision.

They recognize that the incredible diversity of human needs and priorities make a universal message a utopia at best, and more than likely a very real barrier to growth and success.

In reality, customers choose product or service for different reasons and use them with to achieve different goals.

So as brands insist on creating more and more variations of a given product, in order to please increasingly smaller niche markets and segments, complexity explodes. And we end up with 12 flavours of Special K and 20 flavours of Clover Leaf tuna. Or a choice of 250 different mouses for your computer. Or 2400 types of makeup at Shoppers Drug Mart. Or 2 million singles on EHarmony. It’s just too much.

The right choice for me

With that in mind, how do you help your customers make the choices that are right for them? How do you help them to get the most enjoyment out of whatever they buy?

How do you adapt your message to each customers unique reality? How you deliver a message that resonates with your customers, that touches their heart and their spririt?

B2Me Marketing means personalizing a message by placing the product, service or experience in the specific context of each customer’s needs.

Data, domaine expertise and personalized content

It starts with customer data from your marketing automation platform, as well as transactional and behavioural data.

This data is combined with your internal and external product and category expertise in order to map the right product to the right customer.

These two elements are then combined to create personalized content that helps each customer understand why a given product is right for them. To discover the customer experience that matches their needs and goals. To understand the how and the why behind a given choice.

But before starting down the path towards relevance and customer centricity, ask yourself these three important questions:

First of all – Who are your typical customer archetypes – your personas – that are defined by their behaviour, their goals, what they wish to achieve and with whom they wish to do so.

Secondly– What are the key attributes or dimensions that shape each customer archetype,  and that will impact the relevance of your message

Thirdly– Which key variables or datapoints are needed to customize your message to make it relevant to each archetype or persona? And of course, where will you get that data. Once again, marketing automation provide at least part of the answer.

With these things in mind, you are now well on the way to better understanding what your customers need, what they’re looking for and how to talk to them in a relevant way.

But where should you start?

The challenge becomes how to put all this into action. And to justify the investment and the effort. Where should you start? Where are the immediate gains and low-hanging fruit that will help you achieve short term positive ROI?

Sounds like a challenge. But in reality, not so much. Personalization and marketing automation are very powerful relationship-building tools that help you to quickly increase your customer and prospect conversion rates.

In the next episode of What’s this all about? I’ll show you how to easily increase your impact and your campaign ROI with an effective customer nurturing program.

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Flèche d’or 2019 award nominees – check out our three campaigns

Flèche d’or 2019 award nominees – check out our three campaigns

Each year, the Quebec Marketing Association (formerly the AMR) holds a competition to select the top marketing campaigns created by prominent brands and their agencies. Year after year, Strategies does quite well in the standings. Last year, we were awarded Best omnichannel marketing campaign. The year before, we were honoured as the Agency of the year.

This year, we have three campaigns nominated for an award (out of three submissions) for three of our clients. Check out the videos below to learn more about the nominees.


In order to highlight Kent Nagano’s last season as artistic director, the OSM commissioned Strategies to design an email campaign to launch programming for the upcoming season and begin the season ticket renewal process.

This campaign was highly personalized according to the various client segments. It integrates many interactive content elements, including musical excerpts from featured concerts from the upcoming season that can be listened to directly in the email. The engagement rates for this campaign are truly exceptional, which probably explains part of the nomination of the campaign.


Renault Canada and Europ Auto turned to Strategies to help it better convey the value of “short-term lease” car rental format and in the process help to boost sales. Our agency redesigned  the brand experience and implemented a relationship marketing strategy centered on the freedom and rich travel experiences that a only a car can provide.

The “Discover Authentic Europe”, program showcases destinations that are off the beaten path throughout Europe. Including a welcome series, a renewed e-mail template, destination campaigns and conversational programs geared towards the joys of traveling, this program resulted in higher engagement, increased website traffic and a significant sales increase for Europ Auto.



Levenswater produces a range of small batch craft gins in the Niagara Valley, including Levenswater Spring 34. This unique gin recently won the Best Compound Gin Award at the World Gin Awards. When it secured its first order from the SAQ, Levenswater needed to create awareness for its product in Quebec and quickly sell out inventories in order to stimulate a new order from the corporation. Levenswater turned to Strategies to set up an Influencer Marketing program to reach out to the mixologist community and gin-lovers in Quebec.

Working closely with a group of influencers, online publications and mixologists, we deployed an outreach strategy that generated over 600,000 earned impressions over an eight-week period. Tasting events were held in Montreal’s Frank & Oak stores and recipes were developed and distributed in partnership with several popular bars including the Alt+ hotel’s Les Cousins bar.

These nominations in such a prestigious awards competition is already a great victory for us. We sincerely thank the Jury of the Flèche d’or competition, under the chairmanship of Mélanie Roth, Senior Director, Strategy and Marketing Execution, National Bank for having recognized the quality of our work. Will we be the winners of one or more awards? This is what we will soon find out at the 2019 Awards Gala on June 11, 2019 at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the Association Marketing Québec website.


Stratégies wins 4 awards at the AMR 2018 Gala [video]

Stratégies wins 4 awards at the AMR 2018 Gala [video]

At their annual Awards Gala, the Relationship Marketing Association (AMR) and the Flèches d’or Awards (Golden Arrows) jury recognized the excellence of our marketing campaigns by awarding four Top Awards and a certificate of merit including the Best Multi-channel Marketing Campaign as well as Gold in three categories.

We are honored by this industry recognition of the quality of our team’s great work. It’s thanks to our clients and the confidence they place in our strategies that we are able to shine.

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Email marketing defined – everything you need to know!

Email marketing defined – everything you need to know!

Email marketing is a powerful tool…if you know what you’re doing

Email marketing is sometimes equated with sending out newsletters. But it’s so much more! Simply put, Email Marketing is the systematic and structured use of email in order to initiate, build and consolidate a relationship between brands and people. Email is the most popular media for Relationship Marketing. This is largely because of its impact, its ROI and its ability to grow sales.

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What’s the true role of Marketing? Hint: It’s Not What You Think!

What’s the true role of Marketing? Hint: It’s Not What You Think!

I often ask my workshop and conference participants – typically seasoned marketing executives – what the role of marketing might be? Their answers are, by and large, always the same. They revolve around advertising and marketing communication.

They tell me it’s all about branding and image. About differentiation and value. This, of course, is all true and essential. Part of what we are tasked to do as marketers. But is it enough?

Marketing : beyond the four Ps

Strictly speaking, marketing encompasses what we all know as the four Ps. This is how marketing is taught in most business schools on the planet. Price, Place, Promotion and Product. This model for marketing management was first published by E. Jerome McCarthy, back in 1960. But has it kept pace with the times?

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