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    Building a Better Brand Through E-mail

    Kwik Trip shares its approach to growing and data mining its e-mail marketing subscription list.

    By Mehgan Belanger

    Just as important as the content sent in e-mail marketing messages is the list of people to whom the message is sent. Without the proper focus on growth and analysis, e-newsletter subscription lists can become stunted and their valuable data underutilized.

    One convenience store chain actively using its e-mail recipients as a source of information is La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc., which is also seeing solid growth in subscribers.

    The company's subscriber list -- at around 50,000 members as of press time -- grows approximately 5 percent per month, without a dedicated marketing push encouraging signups, according to Brenda Waldera, marketing project manager for Kwik Trip.

    The chain does promote its e-mail coupon program on its Web site as well as through posts on its Facebook and Twitter profiles. It is also promoted on store signage and in-store advertisements.

    The list also grows directly through the chain's contests. When customers register for a chance to win and provide their e-mail address either online or in stores, they automatically give Kwik Trip permission to market to them, she explained.

    When customers sign up to receive the e-mail coupons, they are asked various types of demographic questions, and future subscribers are also asked whether or not they would like to become part of the chain's Customer Advisory Panel, a group of subscribers who are also e-mailed surveys asking about their opinions on the chain's various product offerings.

    About 60 percent of the members on its subscription list participate in the surveys, and upon completion, can earn a coupon good at the chain's stores, she said.

    The survey list allows the convenience store chain to glean more qualitative data than a traditional consumer focus group, as surveys can be sent out to 3,000 people for their opinions on something, while a focus group may be limited to 20 people, Waldera said.

    Through a recent survey, Kwik Trip asked coffee customers their thoughts on a new coffee cup design, and sent them an image of the new graphics. It also conducted an e-mail survey when it was developing a label for its private label sports drink line, Kwik Ade.

    "We surveyed athletes at the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse, and sent the graphic design of the logo to between 3,000 and 5,000 people," she said.

    By Mehgan Belanger
    • About Mehgan Belanger

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