by Allison Banko
Evo fuels the lifestyles of thrill seekers. This outdoor action sports retailer markets the accessories and apparel that meet the needs for shredding snow-dusted slopes and skimming across the surface of the sea. The company offers products including skis, snowboards and wakeboards largely through its e-commerce site, evo.com.
Nathan Decker, Senior Manager of E-commerce, evo, explained that for a while, the evo team has been directing its focus toward differentiating itself from big-box retailers, such as Amazon, by offering its niche customers a more personalized experience relevant to the sports it markets.
However, for a particular email effort, evo wanted to take advantage of its existing email service provider's automated email function to achieve the goals of:
- Reducing return rates
- Improving customer satisfaction
- Building trust
- Improving engagement
- Driving repeat sales of accessories
While brainstorming a campaign that could achieve these goals, Decker said the team asked themselves: "Do we have any assets that we can leverage so we don't have the build all of the creative content that's new for something? What can we repurpose that we already have?"
Evo's website was already armed a with a thorough, well-written set of guides of how-tos, detailing everything from how to buy a snowboard boot to how to get in shape for the ski season. Decker estimated that evo has about 50 or more of these guides.
"Not everyone sees every particular guide because there are so many of them," he said. "So we were looking at some of our bigger categories and trying to marry up the content that we have — some of these great guides — with the email program in this particular effort."
Evo engaged its existing content (and ESP's automation feature) to develop a three-part email series targeted at its ski boot customers.
Through guides, the campaign would educate customers on getting the most out of their boot purchases with helpful tips. To foster a repeat purchase, the final email would suggest ski socks sold by evo that could improve the customer's experience even further.
Step #1. Hold a strategy session
To get their feet wet, the evo team first held a strategy session to hash out what elements they could utilize for the campaign. Decker explained that this involved looking at what data the team had access to through its vendor and ESP. The team opted to move forward using the following:
- Recent item purchased
- Item category
- Item title
The team figured they could use these as keys to trigger the email program using its ESPís automation feature.
"We were trying to marry up all these technologies to say , 'What are some things that we have in front of us that we can use today and leverage to get this campaign going?'" Decker explained.
Step #2. Select a product to serve as the theme for the email campaign
With the data, automation feature and source of the campaign's content determined, the team's next task was hashing out which product to build the effort upon.
As Decker explained, evo had more than 50 guides of content at its disposal to support its products. However, for this effort, the team determined that ski boots would be the best choice due to several factors. For starters, they are one of evo's highest-grossing categories.
But ski boots are also one of the products with the highest return rates due to the difficulty involved in finding the right fit.
"If you're not super familiar with ski boots and buying them and wearing them, it can be a challenge to know what to do when the thing shows up at your doorstep," Decker said.
Evo was already including a print piece in ski boot delivery packages, but the team saw the opportunity to enforce this material digitally. To improve its customers' experience while also providing an incentive for another sale, the team wanted the email campaign to contain links to the "how-to guides" relative to trying on a ski boot while also marketing an item — socks — that could aid in the boot's fit.
Step #3. Build emails and perform the series send
The team developed a three-part email campaign segmented to its ski boot consumers.
Sent in a week's time, the campaign was multi-email and this was clearly communicated in the subject lines (e.g., Ski Boot Guide — Part 1) so recipients knew there was more to come.
The first two emails were "trust builders," not pushing anything sales-oriented, to form trust and engagement before customers received the third email promoting another evo purchase in the ski socks.Ski Boot Guide — Part 1"Here's A Guide To Trying On Your New Ski Boots!"
The day after the customer's ski boot order ships, they receive the first email that contains a link to the guide
to trying on ski boots, complete with an instructional video and detailed step-by-step instructions.
Decker explained that the team wanted to present this how-to guide in the first email to ensure that customers were aware of the unique fit of a ski boot, going back to the goal of decreasing those return rates.
"When you get one new, it's very tight-fitting and it's actually supposed to be that way," he said. "If you're not super familiar with skiing or with ski boots, you might think, 'Oh, this isn't the right size for me' and you might return it. But you may actually have had the right boot." Ski Boot Guide — Part 2"Here's A Guide On How To Make Your Boots Fit Better!"
Four days after the order is placed, it is likely the customer already has his or her new boots, or will receive them shortly. Thus, the content guide
linked to in the second email hones in on how to make the boot fit even better.
"There are a number of tips within this guide that show people how to customize their boot whether it's with the liner or the buckles so that they can optimize their experience with the boot," Decker said. Ski Boot Guide — Part 3"Keep Your Feet Happy — With Technical Socks!"
Two days after Part 2, the customer receives the final email of the ski boot series. This piece is all about improving the ski boot experience even further by purchasing another evo product: technical ski socks.
Decker explained that technical ski socks include benefits such as helping feet breathe better. Additionally, they don't bunch up in the boot and offer compression features to improve circulation.
"All those things can improve your day," he said. "Let's face it, if your boots aren't fitting well, you're going to have a terrible day."
While the preceding emails directed to landing pages with how-to guides, the series finale directed to evo's online store
of these ski socks.
When compared to evo's entire email program, the ski boot series produced a 904% increase in CTR and a 160% increase in open rate.
"We were super pleased [with those numbers] and especially pleased that it wasn't a huge effort to get it out the door," Decker said. "It was repurposing content that we already had."
Because the effort is an automated email program, the evo team doesn't have to lift a finger to keep it rolling. This campaign further helped the team become more personalized and targeted, which Decker said is likely an aspiration of nearly every email marketer.
However, he added, you also need a healthy batch-and-blast send.
"You need to be mailing promotions to your customers as well," he said. "That's what they want in most cases. Talking to my peers, that's sort of the staple of email marketing — that's what drives a majority of the revenue."
Understandably, the batch-and-blast emails tend to be high priority. But lost in that is your company potentially losing relevance with your customers. Decker admitted evo had seen this with its batch and blast program, too. There are only so many of those emails you can send in a week, before you start to wear out your customers and promote high unsubscribe rates and just low engagement, he said.
Though Decker said refining evo's email marketing has been a slow process over time, campaigns like this ski boot series are a step in the right direction.
"We're just trying to continue to get more and more personalized," Decker said, "both with the offers that we send out and with email like [this project] that are hopefully adding to the customer experience and to the subscriber so that there's value outside just getting the latest promo in subscribing to our email program."
- Ski Boot Guide — Part 1
- How to Try on Your New Ski Boots
- Ski Boot Guide — Part 2
- How to Make Your Boots Fit Better
- Ski Boot Guide — Part 3
- Keep Your Feet Happy — With Technical Socks!
Nathan Decker, Director of E-commerce
Reid Weber, Email Marketing Manager Windsor Circle
Scot Catlin, Director of Client Success Silverpop
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