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Mar 09, 2001
Case Study

Drexel Heritage Uses Email to Drive High-End Furniture Buyers to Brick and Mortar Stores

SUMMARY: Drexel Heritage, one of the top furniture manufacturers in the world, started collecting opt-in email addresses from site visitors interested in high-end furnishings almost two years ago. Here's how they created an email campaign that got a 24% click through rate and drove eager buyers to retail stores around America.

Drexel Heritage, one of the top furniture manufacturers in the world, started collecting opt-in email addresses from site visitors interested in high-end furnishings almost two years ago. Senior VP Sales Will Sharp says, "We had tens of thousands of names. We used the data we gathered for a variety of internal purposes to learn about who looks at us (the majority were female), but we hadn't been good about responding back to them." In fact, no broadcast messages had ever been sent to opt-ins.

Sharp knew his opt-ins could be a gold mine, if he could find a way to efficiently and effectively communicate to them.


Sharp knew a great deal of the appeal of Drexel's site and products is visual. In fact, most of the thousands of opt-ins had discovered the site after they saw the URL on television ads or on two-to-four page spreads in magazines such as House Beautiful and Art Digest. Sharp also knew his online visitors were intensely interested in Drexel's images because the site's average visitor spent more than 14 minutes there, which is an extraordinarily long time online.

So, Sharp decided to launch opt-in communications with an interactive email campaign that would appeal to the eye, and drive traffic to retail stores which sold Drexel's products. He chose the MindArrow Systems' eBrochure technology to create the campaign because they could easily repurpose video from one of Drexel's successful 30-second TV spots, and they could include a coupon to be redeemed at stores.

Although Drexel Heritage had been collecting names for 18 months, Sharp decided to only email names from the past nine months. He says, "We didn't go back forever because names older than nine months have probably long forgotten giving us permission."

Recipients got a text email message with the eBrochure attached. The brief text message thanked people for visiting the Drexel site, and described the attachment as a "Story about Drexel Heritage and a special offer for you." The note also allayed consumer's security fears by explaining that the attachment was virus-free.

Once consumers opened the attached eBrochure they could view the 30-second video commercial on the upper part of their screen, or click on any one of four option buttons below.

- One button linked to the Drexel Heritage Web site.

- One said "Find Your Closest Store" and linked to an interactive locator using zip codes.

- One served as a viral device, enabling consumers to forward the eBrochure to their friends.

- One entitled "Special Offer" brought up an Internet coupon, which recipients could redeem for 10% off on any single Drexel Heritage item at the retail store of their choice.

A few days before the email campaign went out in November 2000, Sharp took care of one thing that sometimes the smartest marketers forget to do: he contacted all the folks on the front line (in this case the retail stores) to warn them the campaign was dropping.


24% of all text email recipients clicked on the link to open the eBrochure attachment. Of these an outstanding 85% then took some form of action by clicking on an average of 3.73 buttons items per person!

The most popular button was the special offer, which many people clicked on repeatedly. In fact, including pass-alongs, the coupon was opened by 58% of all eBrochure viewers. The store location finder and link to Drexel's site ran neck and neck for second position, both at about 9% of eBrochure viewers. The viral button captured clicks from 2.3% of viewers.

The eBrochure also had enormous sticking power -- reports showed that some recipients opened the eBrochure repeatedly over a ten day period.

But what really counts are sales. Sharp says, "We sent the email out on a Thursday at 4pm. At 10:30am the next morning a retailer in Atlanta called to say somebody just bought something with the coupon. So, the results were very tangible." During the next couple of weeks retail stores in Boston, Minneapolis and many other areas reported sales with eBrochure coupons.

Yes, Sharp intends to roll this campaign out in 2001. The only major change he'll make is to reduce the video component from a 30-second spot to 20-seconds so the eBrochure will load even more quickly on recipient's PCs.

NOTE: Why was this campaign so successful when several dot-coms trying to sell furniture to consumers failed in 2000? Sharp credits his brick and mortar partners, "When it comes to big ticket purchases, people have to look at it and fall in love with it. It's emotional. It's an investment. You look online to answer questions, but you can't appreciate a ten thousand dollar bedroom set online. You need to see it and touch it. For us the Internet is all about trying to drive consumers into stores. Then they'll be happier with the purchase, they'll buy more, spend more and return less."
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