Live Nation's Bob Frady on Online Preference Centers
When we last checked in with Bob Frady, vice president of digital marketing for the event promoter and concert search engine firm Live Nation, it was late 2007, and his team was reaping the rewards of an aggressive segmentation scheme while hard at work on developing an online preference center. In January 2008, the My Live Nation preference center took the stage and has been racking up fans ever since.We recently talked to Frady about Live Nation's latest segmentation tool, also getting his take on some of the current developments shaping e-mail and online marketing.
Target Marketing: What customization options do you offer subscribers via Live Nation's online preference center?
Bob Frady: We have a preference center called My Live Nation that allows you to do a couple of things. It allows you to see newsletters from different geographies because [a band might be associated with more than one market] ... so you can now subscribe to multiple markets. But then it also allows you to express preferences for particular artists. So if you like Radiohead and Hannah Montana, you can put both of those in there and have them be part of your preferences for communications that you receive.
On the Web site side, it will display it as a calendar ... a listing by date of the artists that you say you're interested in. And on the e-marketing side, it will put you in as being interested in those artists. And you can upload from your iPod to get all that stuff in [your preference set], too.
TM: What effect has the implementation of your online preference center had on your e-mail program?
BF: We've had approximately 325,000 people sign up so far, and we're running at about 5,000 sign-ups a week [for the preference center]. So, these are the people who are the most committed to finding out about music. While the overall program results are sort of dimmed by the fact that we send so much e-mail, what we're really doing is we're able to much better communicate with fans of a band, not just people who have purchased tickets before. So I would say, yes, it has been very helpful in allowing us to better target our e-mail efforts.
TM: How are you dealing with the recent updates to the CAN-SPAM Act, particularly those that affect opt-outs and online preference centers?
BF: We haven't integrated our opt-out with our preference center yet.
But just because it's a one-step opt-out doesn't mean that you can't show other options to the person when they land on that opt-out page. So, you click to opt out, and it's already prechecked to opt out. But you can bring them to a minipage that says, "If you'd like to update your preferences, go to My Live Nation." You can put it in a very consumer-friendly type of engagement.
People want to target; they want to get what they want. And a lot of times when they unsubscribe, it's not because they don't like Live Nation. They just get too much from them.
TM: What might your opt-out/preference update process look like?
BF: We'll go to sort of a split-screen type of [presentation], where you'll have your opt-out on one side of the screen and already checked, and then if you want to change it, you can just go to the other column. Or something like that. It's still in design ...
TM: What strategies are you considering to combat the growing clutter in e-mail inboxes, as more marketers look to this channel as a low-cost alternative to direct mail?
BF: We've been very lucky in that our commitment to segmentation hasn't really wavered. In fact, it's got even stronger. We are not seeing the degradation that some other marketers are seeing.
Actually, we've redesigned our cards and now our newsletters to keep the look fresh and keep people engaged. Sometimes, they just get tired of looking at the same thing. So, you switch it up, and all your direction rates go up.
We've seen a huge increase in sales year to year because of [targeted marketing]. Because we've been committed to segmentation and we show how well segmentation works, it makes it easier for us internally to make sure people abide by segmentation.
TM: Any e-marketing trends that you're investigating?
BF: The one thing I've noticed is that marketers have become enamored of social networks, sometimes at the expense of e-mail. I'm not sure that is the smartest thing to do, because you're replacing an efficiency play, e-mail, with a very expensive play, which is basically CPM. That's an interesting trend to keep an eye on.