September 24, 2013
Case Study

Email Marketing Relevance: Personalized important occasions campaign by online gift retailer achieves a 39% open rate

SUMMARY: When gift website Mud Pie expanded from wholesale to selling directly to consumers, it became clear that a way to draw in and keep consumers on its e-commerce website was needed.

Using an automated email campaign, see how marketers at Mud Pie used personalization and incentives to stay top of mind during events that were important to, and key purchase triggers for, their customers.

by Courtney Eckerle, Reporter


"We started as a wholesale, and we have about 16,000 wholesale retailers around the world," said Andrea Wetherington, E-commerce Manager, Mud Pie.

Founded in 1988, Mud Pie designs and develops innovative gifts, focusing on three different categories: fashion and accessories, gift and home décor, and baby items.

In 2010, Mud Pie launched its e-commerce website and began selling directly to consumers for the first time. It was also essential to start from scratch on the B2C side of its business, and begin venturing into automated email campaigns.

The company was faced with the challenge of finding ways for customers to buy from it directly. Wetherington and her team felt as though email automation would provide them the opportunities to help jump-start the new direct-to-consumer side of its business.


Since people often forget birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates, Mud Pie saw an opportunity to capitalize on this tendency by implementing an "important occasions" loyalty program that would couple date reminders with incentives to buy.

"We felt that the important dates reminder would be like a really good step, especially since we are a gift manufacturer," Weatherington said.
The objectives for the campaign were to drive traffic to the Mud Pie site, increase its conversion rate, and "in the end, spread Mud Pie brand awareness and recognition" to the new consumer audience.

Customers enter their important occasion information via a Web form in which they're required to provide their full name, email address, important dates and name of each date, such as "Mom's Birthday" or another specific occasion.

After signing up for the program, customers automatically receive a personalized email reminder 21 days prior to each important occasion, accompanied by a 10% off coupon.

Step #1. Create Web form to collect important dates

The idea came around for people to be able to choose their own events and occasions throughout the year as a way to make Mud Pie top-of-mind during what customers would consider gift-giving events.

Be it birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, Mud Pie would reward subscribers for opting into this program with a 10% coupon code for the event, with the objective of driving them to the Mud Pie consumer site to browse.

"If you have loyal customers, you want to reward them. Make them feel special for shopping the site and continuing to shop Mud Pie," Weatherington said.

So, Mud Pie created a Web form to collect a customer’s information, specifically:
  • Full name

  • Email address

  • Important date name field and date #1

  • Important date name field and date #2

  • Important date name field and date #3

Each date name field gave an example, such as "Mom's Birthday," "Our Anniversary" and "Valentine's Day," to give customers ideas of dates they could enter.

It was important to Weatherington and her team that the form not be a "drop down," and they wanted customers to write in their own description of the event "to personalize the emails and the dates in order to program the automation," she said.

Because customers had to write it in themselves, the team didn't want the form to be overwhelming and discourage conversion. After discussing a form featuring five dates, they eventually decided on three dates as a "good middle ground."

The form states, "Forget you not! Important date reminders by Mud Pie. Sign up now and receive 10% off before every occasion," and the call-to-action button after filling out the information states, "Remind me."

Allowing customers to pick and describe their own dates not only allows Mud Pie to personalize the "Important Occasions" emails, but also to interact on the customer's terms.

Step #2. Drive customers to sign up

The "Important Occasions" campaign was left out of the general email program registration, so it was vital to find other ways to drive customers to sign up for the program.

They receive an invite to enter into the "Important Occasions" send four days after a customer signs up for the Mud Pie email program or makes a purchase.

The send greeted subscribers stating, "Forget you not! Tell us three dates you don't want to forget and we'll send you a reminder email for each date with a 10% off coupon!"

Customers who weren't entering into the email program could also enter into the send through a banner on the website put up by the marketing team. The banner follows customers throughout the site and reads, "Sign up for automatic gift reminders and receive a 10% coupon before every event!"

Step #3. Implement three "Important Occasions" emails

The most important aspects of the emails were the personalization and the coupon, according to Weatherington.

"We wanted to include the personalization as a way to grab the customer's attention — to increase opens — and the coupon was added as an incentive to click and order," she said.

In designing the email, they tried to showcase those two areas, with the subject line always containing the event the customer had written themselves, for example: "Lisa’s birthday is coming soon!"

The objective for the rest of the email was to be as concise as possible with a clear call-to-action, in an effort to give the personalization and coupon top billing.

Similarly designed to the Web form customers had filled out, the tag line "Forget you not!" was used as the headline to quickly convey the concept behind the campaign.

Weatherington said she and her team then had to create copy to remind the customer their event was coming soon and to remember to use their 10% off coupon. The email reads:

Hi [Customer’s name],

You have an important occasion coming and asked us to remind you when it was getting close: [occasion name] on [occasion date]. Be sure to order a great Mud Pie gift so it delivers in time. Make it an occasion they won't forget!

To get you started, please enjoy this 10% coupon for your order.

A coupon graphic then encourages the customer to "Shop now! 10% off coupon. Use code: Date12."

The products they selected for the creative aspect of the emails are "popular gift products that we felt were versatile and could be used for many different gift-giving events," Weatherington said.

As members of the program, customers receive this personalized email reminder 21 days prior to each important occasion, accompanied by the 10% off coupon.

The information stays in the database, and customers only have to sign up once, according to Weatherington. That way, customers will be reminded of their important occasions, and Mud Pie, year after year.


Along with being Mud Pie's highest revenue-generating consumer campaign to date, according to Weatherington, the results that were achieved from "Important Occasions" were:
  • Currently, 8.5% of Mud Pie's database has joined the program

  • A 39% open rate

  • A 31% clickthrough rate

  • A 5% conversion rate

Also, Weatherington and her team are currently working on implementing a similar campaign: a wish list registry that customers can place products into, and then have Mud Pie send the products out to their friends and families surrounding birthdays or holidays.

From the "Important Occasions" campaign and initial foray into using email as a tool for directly communicating with customers, Weatherington said her takeaway centers on personalization.

"A personalized campaign that includes an offer, a clear call-to-action, directly relates to your product and the customer's personal life will perform strongly," she concluded.

Creative Samples

  1. "Important Occasions" Web form

  2. Campaign sign-up email

  3. Occasion alert email


Mud Pie

Silverpop — Mud Pie's vendor


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