When it comes to books, one person’s great read can be another’s slow slog. To offer each customer a title they’d love, HarperCollins Christian Publishing wanted to understand their unique tastes.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing has embraced an automated, analytics-driven approach to marketing—enabling it to generate fine-grained segments based on real-world customer behavior.
Identifiesunique customer preferences based on online behavior and purchasing histories
Personalizesrecommendations to encourage higher click-through rates for email campaigns
Increasescustomer engagement with campaigns and helps drive higher conversion rates
Business challenge story
Great books change lives
A good book might grab your imagination for a few weeks—but a great book can stay with you your entire life. As one of the world’s leading Christian publishers, HarperCollins Christian Publishing understands the powerful impact that great reads can have, and aims to help each customer find titles they love.
Katie Key, Operations Director at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, takes up the story: “As an organization with more than 200 years of Christian publishing experience, we know that the work we are doing has a big effect. Our CEO often says that the number of books we sell each year are the number of lives that we’ve changed. We sell around 40 million titles annually, which means we have millions of opportunities to impact our customers’ lives.”
Like many leading publishers, email campaigns are an important part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s marketing mix.
Key continues: “In the marketing organization, our goal is to get wonderful books from fabulous authors into homes across the United States and around the world.
“We see that our digital channel is one of the most convenient ways for our customers to engage with us, and we are always looking for ways to improve their experiences. To achieve that goal, we collect data on the way that customers move across our e-commerce sites, as well as information on products they have viewed and purchased.
“In the past, we had no way of harnessing this information to improve the relevance of our marketing communications. As a result, we were forced to rely on sharing the same, static messages to large segments of our campaign audience. We knew that this content would only resonate with a tiny fraction of the email recipients, and we were missing thousands of opportunities to spark customer imaginations. To solve the challenge, we were keen to find a way to identify unique customer tastes and preferences, and use those insights to shape compelling, tailored outreach.”
Pinpointing unique customer preferences
To transform its approach to marketing across its global business, HarperCollins Christian Publishing has embraced a highly automated, analytics-driven email marketing platform. The new solution brings together information on real-world customer interactions and purchasing histories, and enables marketers to uncover insights into each reader’s unique preferences at speed and scale.
“We are building queries that segment our audience based on rich contextual information,” explains Key. “Better still, these new segments are extremely fine-grained compared to the ones we were able to create before. Because we can drill down into smaller subsets of our digital campaign audiences, we can now shape tailored messages that are more likely to captivate the customers who receive them.”
HarperCollins Christian Publishing is using its marketing platform to add dynamic content to its emails, building an extra layer of personalization into its targeted campaigns.
“We can take large-scale email campaigns and tailor the images, text and links to match what we know about each person’s individual interests and tastes based on their previous interactions with the brand,” says Key. “Instead of opening the email and deleting it, more and more of our customers are now engaging with the content—and we see that relevant content is making all the difference.”
After a successful rollout of the new way of working for the company’s North America operations, HarperCollins Christian Publishing now offers the platform to support teams in Canada and the UK.
Meghan O'Brien, Senior Digital Marketing Associate at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, says: “Today, the entire business is using the same centralized platform to support customer communications. We can now pull reports on our campaigns in a couple of clicks, which makes it easier to present our successes and learn from things that didn’t work so well. Because we are all using the same marketing platform, it means we’re all speaking the same language—and it’s been really neat to see how the new way of working has taken off.”
Recommending inspiring reads for every customer
By adopting an automated, analytics-driven approach for personalized digital marketing, HarperCollins Christian Publishing is achieving its goal of delivering tailored recommendations to every customer—helping every customer find the next book to dive into.
“We’ve moved from a ‘batch and blast’ mentality to a smart email philosophy,” O'Brien comments. “We are now pinpointing customer preferences in small subsets of our email lists, and crafting targeted content that is likely to appeal strongly to those audiences.
“The results have been outstanding. Every part of the business that has embraced our new way of working has seen substantial improvements in campaign effectiveness, and we predict that more parts of the global organization will start using the platform in the future.”
By breaking large amounts of customer data into smaller, bitesize marketing actions, HarperCollins Christian Publishing is gaining even deeper insight into what motivates its customers.
“Our mission is to impact as many lives as we can, and forging closer relationships with our customers is a key way to achieve that,” adds Key. “Because we can now understand each customer as a person rather than a number in a spreadsheet, we’re not just learning about them—we’re learning from them. These new insights are helping us to make our communications more timely and compelling, and encourage more people to purchase life-changing reads.”
Key concludes: “The more precisely we can reach out to our customers, the more lives we can impact—and with our tailored marketing strategy, we’re achieving just that.”
HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Headquartered in Nashville, TN, HarperCollins Christian Publishing is one of the world’s leading Christian publishers, comprising Thomas Nelson and Zondervan publishing groups and Olive Tree Bible Software. The company produces bestselling Bibles, inspirational books, academic resources, curriculum, audio and digital content for the Christian market space. HarperCollins Christian Publishing also operates BibleGateway.com, the world’s largest Christian website, and FaithGateway.com, an online community dedicated to helping people grow in their faith.
- M&E: Customer Sales and Service Transformation
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