By Amanda Stroud, S. Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has long strived to incorporate targeted email marketing in agency outreach initiatives with measurable results. Measurable targeted marketing requires the use of appropriate technology and data flow to offer incentives via email marketing and analyze the effectiveness of such efforts.
SCDNR still works with an outdated licensing portal and depends on a database built before emails and cell phones. Beyond those issues, SCDNR’s legal team feared the outcome of offering an incentive to selected recipients from a single vendor.
After years of disappointment and frustration, SCDNR decided that for the 2020 holiday season, we were going to figure it out and finally take advantage of the generous offerings from Academy Sports and Outdoors to provide incentive coupons for SCDNR customers. I mean, how challenging could all these hurdles be? It turned out, not nearly as difficult as we had built them up to be.
After we determined that we wanted to take advantage of recent changes completed at South Carolina Wildlife (SCW), we agreed our goals would focus on an increase in subscription sales and updating the magazine’s subscriber database. We met with our legal team to ensure we knew which concerns to address before moving forward, and we consulted with South Carolina’s Academy Sports and Outdoors representatives to review them.
Academy Sports and Outdoors was as eager to work with us as we were to work with them. Upon hearing our legal team’s concerns of requiring a purchase for an incentive offer or limiting the incentive to only one corporate partner, Academy proved how helpful they truly are.
The Academy team provided a coupon that we could forward to those who responded to the email campaign with a purchase or by updating their information. We also could make it available to anyone that called and asked for it.
We asked our Academy representative if this offer bonds us to only do similar efforts with them. They returned in writing that it did not. This eliminated our fears about fair competition between Academy and other potential organizations that wanted to partner with SCDNR on incentives.
With the legal team happy, Academy on board and the goals in place, it was time to make it happen. This included:
- Creating an email list from the SCDNR licensing database and integrating that with our magazine subscribers’ database;
- Finalizing messaging and imagery for the two emails that we would distribute;
- Development of a landing page for respondents to either update their information or subscribe to the magazine; and
- Determining how we would distribute the incentive offer.
SCDNR was lucky enough to work with The Sourcing Group, SCW’s subscriber services provider. They agreed to create the email list, program the landing page and the functionality to link to our online subscription page, and provide a form to automatically update the SCW subscribers’ database. This functionality also included automated emails with the attached incentive coupon without further action by SCDNR.
South Carolina Wildlife’s team and SCDNR’s marketing team then created social content to accompany the emails distributed in December. The cost of this effort was just over $5,000 for setup, but the created functionality is now available for future efforts.
SCDNR was able to successfully distribute two emails with a handful of social media posts offering the incentive coupon. This resulted in 82 new subscriptions and more than 340 updated contacts in the SCW subscriber database.
We have done a lot of marketing efforts on tight-to-no budgets over the years for SCW, and though not a huge number, we considered the direct impact and updated database as a success. The results of the campaign are also measurable, which helps staff fine-tune messaging, timing and other factors for future efforts.
With the programming complete, we plan to offer this incentive in other areas of the agency and multiple times a year moving forward.