At the recent B2B Online Digital and eCommerce Event for Manufacturers and Distributors in Chicago, Marta Dalton, director of B2B e-commerce for Coca-Cola, talked about how Coca-Cola uses segmentation and personalization in email campaigns to increase engagement. Coca-Cola’s B2B business includes an e-commerce site for its customers who specify Coca-Cola products for their location or business.

Dalton explained that effective segmentation needs to start with data. Assess how many systems are there that store data in your organization and what kind of data lives in each system. Do the various systems integrate and do they necessarily need to integrate? It’s also important to understand what business groups touch the data and make sure clear rules for handling customer data are defined for each group.

At Coca-Cola, Dalton reviewed what steps they took to enhance their customer data. First, they worked with their sales team. The sales team is on the front-lines with the customer every day and has the most access to update customer information. To keep at the center of the sales team’s minds when talking to customers, data collection goals were added to the team’s overall goals. Next, they looked at the customer service center. Dalton said that call center reps are trained to verify/collect customer information during phone calls.

Coca-Cola’s B2B operation uses Pardot for marketing automation and segmentation but she suggested that if you don’t use marketing automation system another way to enhance the customer data collection process is through online progressive forms which pre-populate existing customer contact information, asks them to update any changes and saves the data.

Dalton gave an overview of the five campaign types Coca-Cola uses for email segmentation. She noted that these may differ from company to company based on business goals.

  • Acquisition – campaign to encourage customers to register on their website
  • Adoption – campaign aimed at getting registered users to start buying
  • Engagement – campaign to touch base with customers, inform of new products and offers
  • Re-Engagement – campaign to reach those who have dropped-off
  • Retention – campaign aimed at targeting those customers who have missed their order cycle

With data collection processes in place and list segmentation determined, email personalization can begin. Dalton said they incorporate personalization into customer emails by using data fields directly in the email to the customer, A/B testing different calls to action, changing the opener on emails based on segments, including offers and focusing on making graphics relevant to the email copy.

Dalton wrapped up her presentation by showing attendees examples of specific email campaigns. One example was an email to those in the Adoption segment that illustrated how to place an order on their e-commerce site. She also showed an example of what looks like personalized emails from a sales rep to their specific customers. This tactic is effective for the Engagement segment and allows for a more personalized message that appears to come directly from the sales rep rather than a mass email.