Boston Proper builds customer database and sales with summer catalog initiative

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Boston Proper builds customer database and sales with summer catalog initiative
Boston Proper builds customer database and sales with summer catalog initiative

Client: Boston Proper

Agency: Experian Marketing Services
Outtake: Optimize segmentation for postal and email databases for Summer 2 merchandise based on customer activity.



With a glass of Merlot in hand, an affluent 46-year-old woman skims the pages of a Boston Proper catalog packed with photos of striking models in knit tops, maxi dresses, swimwear and sandals. She circles the items she wants, then visits the Boston Proper website to add them to her shopping cart and make her transaction.


That scenario reflects how the Boca Raton, Fla.-based retailer envisions its typical customer — an active woman, ages 35 to 55, with a household income of $80,000 and a college education — connecting with the company. 


"Everything works in tandem to engage the customer," said Margaret Moraskie, SVP of marketing. "What we work for is one single-brand experience regardless of how the customer comes to us."


With a total circulation of 55 million, Boston Proper produces 17 catalogs a year, with two drops each. Following the success of its spring catalog, the retailer wanted to grow circulation for its Summer 2 catalog, adding more targeted segmentation.


STRATEGY: For the multichannel campaign, Boston Proper turned to Experian Marketing Services, which has helped manage its customer database for more than 15 years.

The retailer combines Experian's Customer Intelligence Platform and CheetahMail email services, as well as marketing analytics, to understand its customers' buying habits and also their preferences. 


"We are in the mail every three weeks, so you can imagine that the data and hygiene of that data, and getting the catalogs into the hands of the right people, is critical to the success of our business," said Moraskie.


Boston Proper dropped its first Summer 2 catalog May 5, the second on May 19. In addition to regular transactional messages, the retailer sent three unique emails each week and nine unique emails for the entire run of the campaign. 


The first of the weekly emails would, for example, announce that the catalog and new collection were online, while the second email would hype new arrivals, and the third would feature dresses. The company circulated 4 million Summer 2 catalogs and approximately 2 million emails per week across the three unique emails.


With Experian's PC Direct Select segmentation tool, the retailer was able to determine how to best engage customers in its database by recency, frequency and dollars spent in terms of activity. The best customers received both drops of the catalog, each with unique covers. They also received all emails during each week of the four-week campaign in May.


"We segment the email marketing database based on response levels and recent activity," said Moraskie.


As part of the CheetahMail integration, every time Boston Proper dropped an email for the Summer 2 campaign, it automatically posted to the company's Facebook and Twitter pages. The campaign was also supp-orted with search marketing by PM Digital, affiliate marketing by LinkShare Corp. and display advertising by Yahoo.


RESULTS: Boston Proper scored a double-digit year-over-year increase in its three-month file due to reactivation and repeat purchases, as well as in new-to-file customers. Its 12-month file grew 8%. 


"At a time when a lot of mailers are cutting back and have seen degradation to their lists, we are aggressively circulating," Moraskie said. "We are growing our file, and that comes from good market and customer intelligence."


Boston Proper also saw a 28% increase in response compared with last year's Summer 2 campaign. Sales were 25% greater than expectations.


Jeff Lundal, SVP and general manager of Experian's Data Management Solutions unit, attributed the results to the retailer's commitment to integrating various marketing channels.


"When you market through a single channel, you're at the beginning stage of the marketing sophistication curve," he said. "Companies that are performing the most sophisticated programs are utilizing touch-point attribution, response allocation and truly integrated multichannel marketing. Boston Proper is in the middle and quickly advancing higher in the curve."

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