by Adam Sutton
, Senior Reporter
December is an important month for retailers, and not just because of the holiday-shopping frenzy. It's also the last chance they have to test ideas for the coming year.
Case-Mate — a designer, manufacturer and retailer of premium smartphone cases — wanted to test a new promotion in early December. The marketing team was leaning towards a flash sale.
"A lot of people on the team had seen flash sales from other companies and we had purchased based on the flash sales," said Ruth DeFeo, Email Marketing Manager, Case-Mate.
Since email marketing often led the charge in Case-Mate's promotions, DeFeo knew the channel would be the main driver of the campaign. The team had never run a flash sale and would have to start from scratch.
Case-Mate planned to launch the 12-hour sale on December 7. The campaign was such a smashing success the team reorganized its December marketing calendar to launch another flash sale two weeks later.
The team took four steps:
Step #1. Time the launch carefully
A 12-hour sale does not give customers much time to receive a message and make a purchase. Case-Mate had to carefully time the flash sale to prevent it from being a flash in the pan.
The team dug into its data to time the sale:
Time of day
The team reviewed its website analytics and found site visitors were most abundant and active between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. each evening. To capitalize on this time, the team set the flash sale to run from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Day of week
Sunday is a big day for Case-Mate, but not in terms of sales.
"We saw people would visit the site a lot on Sunday but wouldn’t convert. Our thought was they are going to the site, checking things out on Sunday, but on Monday they are coming back and actually purchasing the case they looked at," DeFeo said.
With this insight, the team set the campaign to launch on Monday, December 7.
Case-Mate planned to promote a promo code for a site-wide discount during the sale. Again, the team looked to its data to determine the best offer.
"We determined that 30% off is our sweet spot for promotional offers," DeFeo said.
Step #2. Create landing page
The theme of the campaign was based on a gift guide Case-Mate created for the holidays. The guide was centered on a single landing page
, and the team used this page to receive traffic for the flash sale.
Here are the main features of the page:
Case-Mate created eight characters to feature on the landing page, such as "the fashionista," "the adventurer" and "the tween." The page shuffled through images of these characters, and visitors could click arrows or the character's titles to browse through them.
Each character corresponded with a different set of products. Dozens of products displayed on the lower-portion of the page when a user clicked one of the character images.
The largest and most prominent text on the page was a logo alerting visitors they had arrived to the gift guide. This message corresponded with the emails the team used to promote the campaign, but the page did not mention the promo code. DeFeo says the team is considering reinforcing the sale message on landing pages in future campaigns.
Step #3. Create and send two emails
The team planned to send two emails to promote the sale. The first email
was sent at 11 a.m. Here's what it included:
- Specific subject line — Since most of Case-Mate’s emails are image-based, DeFeo says the team makes the most of its subject lines in case the recipient doesn't allow images to load by default.
The subject line of the campaign’s email left no doubt about its topic: "Holiday-Flash-sale: Our Flash Sale Starts Tonight!"
- Gift-guide logo — The same gift-guide logo featured on the campaign's landing page was featured at the top of this email.
- Sale information — Large text announced the flash sale, and even larger text emphasized the 30% discount. Below this, the email noted the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. schedule of the sale.
Similar second email
The team scheduled the second email
to arrive at 7 p.m., the start of the sale. It was nearly identical to the first message but had several important differences:
- Announce start — The schedule of the sale was replaced with "starts now" written in all caps.
- Promo code — Below this phrase was the code customers will need to receive the discount.
- Product images — The first email also included three product images as part of the creative. These were switched for three other products in the second message.
The overwhelming driver of the campaign’s traffic came via email, DeFeo said, but the team did promote the flash sale in two more channels:
- Social — Case-Mate mentioned the sale twice in Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ at the same time it sent the emails.
- Affiliates — The team also sent the code to affiliates to use in their promotions during the sale.
Step 4. Review results and relaunch
The flash sale was a smashing success — see the metrics in the "results" section.
"The results were great," DeFeo said. "It was some of the highest conversion rates that we’ve seen to date in our email program."
The team wanted to see if the campaign could work twice in the same month. It planned to launch a nearly identical sale two weeks later, on December 17.
Here's what the team changed in the second effort: Time of day
Case-Mate’s customer service team is typically available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which were the exact opposite hours of the first flash sale. The service team found a litany of questions and requests waiting for them when they returned to the office on December 4. To make it easier on the team, and to better serve customers, the marketing team set the second sale to run from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
"Our customer service team is fantastic. The second time we ran this, they stayed late until 10 p.m. to make sure that all of our customers were taken care of," DeFeo said. Email timing
The team sent two emails to promote the sale, but used a different approach.
- The first email announced the start of the sale and was sent at 1 p.m.
- The second email was sent at 6:30 p.m. and added urgency to the message by making it clear there were "only hours left" to save 30%.
The first flash sale was a big success. The changes the team made for the second sale pushed its conversion rate even higher.
"We saw revenue, traffic and all the conversion metrics we measure go up, which was really exciting to see," DeFeo said. "The numbers, as far as conversion rate, were pretty consistent between the two. The second one was slightly higher, but the first one still performed really well."
Here’s how the first sale performed compared to Case-Mate’s average metrics from 2012:
- 51% increase in traffic
- 50% increase in conversion rate (purchases divided by visits to the landing page)
- 236% increase in revenue
Here’s how the second sale performed against the team’s 2012 averages:
- 5% increase in traffic
- 105% increase in conversion rate (purchases divided by visits to the landing page)
- 78% increase in revenue
"Everyone was really happy, and in fact, we are planning to do similar types of promotions this year because these were so successful," DeFeo said.
- Landing page
- Sale 1 — email 1
- Sale 1 — email 2
- Sale 2 — email 1
- Sale 2 — email 2
Related ResourcesHoliday Marketing: 8 trending tactics and tips for 2012Email Marketing: Dynamic images get 5 opens per reader on a single emailHoliday Marketing: 6 tactics to help you prep for the seasonEmail Optimization: 4 optimization suggestions to test in your next sendEmail Marketing: How do customers read your emails?