Making the Most of Marketing Money

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Shutterfly, a leading online retailer and manufacturer of personalized products and services, was founded in 1999. Since then, the Redwood City, Calif., company has seen its business grow steadily, largely due to very robust customer growth.

A lot of credit goes to successful marketing partnerships with companies like Banana Republic, Pottery Barn, Southern Living, Macy’s, Kellogg’s, Babies ‘R’ Us, FisherPrice, and McDonald’s and to participation in advertising programs from Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

And with a host of acquisitions, Shutterfly has transformed from a single brand market leader to a family of brands capable of cross-selling products to a much wider audience. Other than the flagship Shutterfly brand, its portfolio includes ThisLife (a photo and video organizer), Tiny Prints (premium cards and stationery), Treat (for creating personalized greeting cards), Wedding Paper Divas (wedding-related stationery), BorrowLenses (an online photo and video equipment rental service), GrooveBook (mobile photo-book service), and others.

And if its annual revenue growth from $640 million in 2012 to $1.13 billion in 2016 is any indication, Shutterfly’s marketing efforts have really paid off. To ascertain the secrets of Shutterfly’s success, Sam Del Rowe, assistant editor at CRM, spoke with Brian Border, vice president of CRM at Shutterfly.

CRM: Can you talk about your background and how you came to your current position at Shutterfly?

Brian Border: While Shutterfly is the fifth employer in my 20-year career, I’ve had my hands in CRM since my first year in the work force.

I began at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in 1995, where I advised a variety of national and multinational companies on business strategy, process, and technology. During the second half of my four-year tenure, I began concentrating more exclusively on CRM work. My very first assignment involved developing a proof of concept leveraging the fledgling World Wide Web to create customized experiences for customers via personalized content and product recommendations. I was instantly attracted to the power of leveraging customer insights to drive more relevant interactions and have always believed this is the best way to drive true long-lasting customer loyalty.

In 2000 I joined Peppers & Rogers Group and spent three years helping clients develop customer relationship strategies and designing the data, process, and technology infrastructures to enable these strategies.

While I really enjoyed my eight years in consulting, most of my client projects lasted only a few months. I was only able to go so deep into the implementation side of CRM and rarely got to learn from the recommendations we were making.

So with a desire to get my hands dirty in the world of CRM, I moved to Blue Shield of California as loyalty marketing manager. The bulk of my six-year tenure was spent building and executing loyalty initiatives for individual consumers and families. One major success was the implementation of a Customer Save Desk that used analytics to identify at-risk customers and then, through proactive outreach, reduce customer defections and preserve approximately $500,000 in annual revenue.

My next stop was Kodak Gallery. As senior manager of loyalty, CRM, and social, I focused on growing customer relationships via email and social media programs while also developing loyalty initiatives that encompassed a much broader set of customer touch points. What really attracted me to the role was the opportunity to develop greater expertise in key customer-facing channels and the opportunity to do CRM in an online environment.

In 2012, I joined Shutterfly as director of CRM, and my initial areas of responsibility were focused around email marketing.

What responsibilities does your position entail?

As vice president of CRM, I oversee the entire CRM organization for Shutterfly, whose ultimate objective is to deepen our relationships with customers and generate greater long-term value from them. My specific areas of ownership include the email, direct mail, and retention marketing teams, a CRM analytics team, and a CRM technology team focused on building the data infrastructure and technical platform required to enable our strategic initiatives.

Being truly successful at CRM requires thoughtfully embracing all of the ways in which a customer interacts with your organization.

My role also requires extensive partnership with all of our other customer-facing teams, including acquisition marketing channels and our site, service, and operations teams.

The role also entails balancing short-term considerations with the long term. While the ultimate goal of the CRM organization is driving long-term customer growth, there are critical short-term business goals that my team is also tasked with achieving.

Can you talk about Shutterfly’s mission?

At Shutterfly, our mission is to enable customers to deepen their personal connections with the people who matter most in their lives with unique, personalized photo products. We help customers enrich their lives—and the lives of others—by inspiring them to be creative in preserving memories and sharing their stories.

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