Feb 11, 2002
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Lillian Vernon (the company, not the woman) tells me they are increasingly bullish on Web sales replacing catalog orders. After September 11, department stores were able to mark down their prices to reflect consumers' newfound reluctance to spend. Since their holiday catalogs were all either being printed or in the mail, they didn't have too much flexibility to change prices. What they decided to do was an e-mail marketing campaign to their opt-in list, offering 20% off retail on anything in the store. The conversion rate was 10 times the usual for an e-mail campaign. As the holidays drew nearer (and department stores cut prices further), they increased the offer to 25% off, with similarly stunning results. In case you live in a cave without a mailbox, Lillian Vernon has 8 catalogs with 24 million customers' addresses.
They're not yet collecting e-mail addresses from their phone order center -- the next obvious step. They told me that when they did a three-day trial asking customers (to the phone center) for their e-mail addresses, 30% of callers had e-mail addresses, and 60% of those wanted to be contacted by e-mail (opt-in). Lillian Vernon, famous for personalized coasters, and other stuff you'd find at Grandma's house, would not seem to be a particularly tech-savvy audience, so 30% sounds pretty good to me.