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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Oct 08, 2013
Case Study

Email Marketing: Online jewelry retailer grows total revenue by 51% with re-permission campaign

SUMMARY: Online retailer Limoges Jewelry was experiencing an unusual revenue slump in its email program. In response, the marketing team switched its ESP and implemented a re-permission campaign and welcome email.

"How are we going to try and get a hold of these customers who may not be engaged with our brand anymore? What's the right thing to say to somebody who you know hasn't been paying attention to you in a while to get their attention?," said Jon Ozaksut, E-commerce Marketing Manager, Limoges Jewelry.

See how Limoges Jewelry marketers were able to launch the new series, growing total revenue 51%.
by Courtney Eckerle, Reporter

CHALLENGE

In March of 2011, Limoges email program was at the beginning of "a long decline that continued on through the summer," Jon Ozaksut, E-commerce Marketing Manager, Limoges Jewelry, said. Although, he amended, some decline is expected in such a seasonal business.

"Our jewelry is very focused around three holidays: Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. There is a sales desert there between May and November," he added.

The goal for Limoges Jewelry has always been to "expand outwards" while reaching its customers as efficiently as possible, according to Ozaksut.

Ozaksut has worked on several channels, including SEO, comparison shopping and social media — however, his primary focus this past year has been growing the email marketing channel.

When the marketing team began to see their revenue-per-email drop over the summer, "it was no surprise. But, when they didn't come back up again towards September or so, we started to get kind of alarmed," he said.

A challenge the marketing team had been facing is "the flip side of us having spent so much time so far already in the e-commerce sphere," he said.

The Limoges Jewelry Web platform is very well established, but the downside of being built on older technology, according to Ozaksut, is it can complicate and slow down change.

"Our site has been live since the late 90s, but we have a custom e-commerce platform that is based on an Oracle build from the late 90s. There's a lot of duct tape that has to go into any further developments on our end," he said.

CAMPAIGN

According to Ozaksut, Limoges occupies a unique subset within the jewelry industry in that it offers a wide array of personalized jewelry. Being in this subset, Limoges has a low price point for the industry.

Many companies in the jewelry marketing industry "build their marketing program around spending hundreds of dollars on a sale, because the sale's going to be thousands of dollars. Our price points, though, are almost exclusively under $100, so the name of the game for us, much more than most other jewelry sites, is volume."

What the team learned was likely the case with their slumping sales was that Limoges was having some issues with deliverability.

"We were incapable of reaching our most engaged customers," he said.
What was actually the case was the email service provider (ESP) at the time didn't offer the tools the team needed to identify their active segments, and Limoges ended up switching providers in March of 2012.

With a fresh ESP on their side, the Limoges marketing team decided to put together a re-permission campaign to remove any email addresses that may have been abandoned, or totally unengaged with the brand. Along with that, the marketing team developed a welcome send for new subscribers.

After reducing their list with the re-permission campaign, the welcome email's objective was to foster an engaged relationship with their new subscribers.

Step #1. Make the case for re-permission

"At this point, one of the obstacles that we had to face was strictly getting buy-in from our CEO," Ozaksut said.

A re-permission program, he added, "if you haven't run it in a long time, can result in a serious shrinking of your email file. That's actually what happened for us."

What the marketing team was looking at was a 55% drop in audience. Each of their promotional emails would be going out to less than half as many people after doing their re-permission program.

That was very dicey, he said, "but we were able to make the case by virtue of saying, 'Well, at the same time, when we move to this new email program, we're going to be able to get many more sign-ups as we connect.'"

As soon as it switched ESPs, Ozaksut said, Limoges Jewelry email sign-ups increased significantly, "between 100% and 400% year-over-year increase."

Because the team was seeing that new influx of additional customers, it allowed the team to make the case that "it may not be worth it for us to be sending to all of these email addresses. We were able to make the case that way," he said.

Step #2. Figure out how to reach lapsed customers

Ozaksut said the marketing team had to decide, "How are we going to try and get a hold of these customers who may not be engaged with our brand anymore? What's the right thing to say to somebody who you know hasn't been paying attention to you in a while to get their attention?"

Setting up a three-step re-permission campaign was the answer, he said.

Each of the emails were sent three days apart, and if a subscriber clicked on any of the emails during the process, they weren't sent the next in the series.

Email #1

The first send was a promotional email.

"Limoges, by virtue of the high market for our industry and the marketing practices … has a very promotional email program. Most of our emails have some sort of coupon or another," Ozaksut said.

For the re-permission campaign, the team decided to start off strong by offering people 30% off, Limoges biggest coupon.

The coupon read, "We miss you! Come back with 30% off! It's been a long time since we've heard from you. We'd love to have you back at our site — so please accept this 30% off coupon. This discount is just for you, and it’s only valid for a week, so hurry!"

This email was sent out "to make sure anybody who's just been waiting for a good deal and been unable to find it is going to get that from us and say, 'Oh, well, maybe I should come back in with these guys,'" he said.

Email #2

Discounts and sales don't always get a reaction out of customers, Ozaksut said. This was the driving idea behind the second re-permission email sent.

"There are certain customers that are more interested in interacting with your brand and interacting period, before anything else. We focused our second email send around that," he said.

The second email is a non-promotional opinion solicitation where customers are asked their opinion about one style of ring over another.

The subject line of the email states, "[Name] we want to hear from YOU!" and the body reads, "Your opinion matters! Which of the following designs do you like more?"

"Below that we have two of our most popular ring styles. Customers can pick one or the other … so we can get them to engage with a brand on a non-sales standpoint," he said.

Email #3

The third email sent was a simple, unadorned "mostly text-based email" according to Ozaksut. It is very straightforward, and "we ask customers directly — do you want to be on board with us?"

The third and final email states:
To our valued customer:
We're sorry to say that we haven't heard from you in some time. We understand if you're not in the market for our personalized jewelry anymore, and we are prepared to remove you from our mailing list. You don't have to do anything — we will unsubscribe you automatically. However, if you do wish to continue receiving our best-of-the-web offers and new designs, please click below.

Ozaksut said Limoges is dedicated to "not bothering you" and in the end, the goal is to "make sure that everybody is fully consenting to receive further emails from us," he said.

Step #3. Develop a welcome email

Limoges Jewelry also developed a much-needed welcome email as they proceeded with the process of building its list back up from the re-permission emails, Ozaksut said.

"It's a huge program for us. It's the most efficient thing you can do from an email marketing standpoint. It really helped us define our metrics of success a little bit better, to see exactly how much another email sign-up is worth to us," he said.

The welcome email offers the new subscriber a 20% discount on their next order, saying:
Welcome! You are now signed up to receive Limoges Jewelry emails. As a Welcome Gift we are happy to give you 20% off your next order over $40!

Then, it directs the subscriber to "Shop Limoges Jewelry now."

As part of the email graphic, two sterling silver engraved message rings are shown off, offering free engraving.

Introducing the welcome email has been phenomenally successful, according to Ozaksut. He guessed the revenue it brings in is "somewhere around 50 times what it is for our other emails."

"Our welcome email has an open rate of over 50%," he said. "While we may make, let's say, a few pennies off of every individual email we send out in our promotional campaign, when we send our welcome email, it's routinely averaged over $2 per every email send."



RESULTS

"You will usually find that if you do something right or something wrong in your email program … the place where you see the biggest magnitude of change is where the program was already the biggest. Our best offers, our highest revenue month, those are where we saw the biggest changes," Ozaksut said.

Year over year, according to Ozaksut, from September 2012 through February 2013, the results achieved were:
  • Reduced email volume by 52%

  • Increased conversions by 24%

  • Increased total revenue by 51%

  • Clickthrough increased by 71%

  • Open rates doubled to 7%

"The open rates doubled …For our industry, I think that's all right. Certainly for a more enthusiast niche or a smaller list, you would want to see a higher open rate than that, but I think that's pretty good for where we are," he said.

The key is to see these improvements as stepping stones to growing the entire program, he added.

"It has been one of those things where I have tried to stay cautious about it, while at the same time, recognizing that it was a big win for us," he said, adding it is good to recognize what was done right afterwards, but also consider "what we could've done in a slightly more refined fashion."

For instance, looking back, he feels as though instead of immediately unsubscribing people that were sent through the re-permission campaign, "I would've liked to have perhaps opted them down first. Instead of just sending them no emails, we would send them just one best email per month."

The objective of that would be to "still get a little bit more reach, and we would give ourselves a little bit more time to re-engage those customers on our own terms. I feel like with that in place we might have been able to retain a few more of those customers," he said.

"At the same time, that's if you’re really looking for a cloud for that silver lining. All things considered, in the case of a 50% increase in revenue, that's a pretty big plus," he concluded.

Creative Samples

  1. Re-permission email #1

  2. Re-permission email #2

  3. Re-permission email #3

  4. Welcome email

Sources

Limoges Jewelry

Responsys

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for email marketers

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Email Marketing: Change in incentive offer causes a 25% increase in email subscribers in one day for nonprofit

Email Testing: How the Obama campaign generated approximately $500 million in donations from email marketing

Email Marketing How-to: 5 steps to improve your email newsletter

Email Deliverability: Publisher moves beyond double opt-in to avoid 1,000 hard bounces per day



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