Conference Call: Trek Bicycle Corporation and Bronto Software

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Conference Call: Trek Bicycle Corporation and Bronto Software
Conference Call: Trek Bicycle Corporation and Bronto Software

High-end American bicycle manufacturer Trek Bicycle Corporation recently ran an e-mail campaign promoting the company's updated Madone brand bike. DMNews' Kevin McKeefery gets the lowdown from Casey Kohner, e-commerce manager at Trek Bicycle, and DJ Waldow, e-mail marketing account manager at e-mail marketing firm Bronto Software about the campaign's success, the unique e-mail campaign structure Trek has built with its retailers, and the working relationship between Trek and Bronto.  

Can you discuss your client/ESP relationship?

DJ: We've worked with Trek for two years and the relationship consists of a little bit of back and forth and a little bit of proactive reaching out and helping with different campaigns to support any issues [Trek] might be having. It's not the traditional relationship where we design the creative for Trek and then we hand it off to them and they send the message. The application itself is a lot of self-service.

Casey: We lean on Bronto for advice on e-mail marketing and best practices for any aspect of e-mail marketing, be it design, deliverability or content management and they help us understand best practices and making sure we're doing things right.

What was the impetus for this e-mail campaign?

Casey: We don't sell direct to consumer – our business is 99% through our independent bicycle retailer network. Our job as a brand manufacturer is to provide the information, the technical resources and directions customers need [in order] to go buy the bike in the store. We've got about 2,000 nationwide.

DJ: It's very different designing for Web versus designing for e-mail, so it's about designing for “images off,” looking at a good balance of text/image, a good, clear call to action. With the Madone campaign specifically, the call to action was not your traditional “Click here for more.” The wording was a little more direct – “See the New Madone.”

Is the e-mail that the local store sends out the same across the nation or can each retailer customize it?

Casey: They can customize it. We provide some content, but due to the unique nature of every individual retailer, it's difficult to craft one message or have one layout pre-filled with content because inevitably they will want to brand it to their own store or perhaps the product mix at one location versus another is different.

DJ: It's important that it isn't the same because depending on what market you're in, consumers can be very different.

Are there any brand-wide e-mails that go out to the entire Trek list or are all campaigns conducted locally?

Casey: There are two separate paths – we have our corporate messaging that goes through a variety of channels. Our goal is to get out at least one message a month to what we call our Trek Life list. This Madone e-mail went to that entire list.

DJ: Looking at the Madone e-mail, the design is very clean and from a best practice standpoint, that's how I spend a lot of my day – thinking about not only design but how to get the message in the inbox and how to get people to open it. They had a great subject line “The all-new Madone has arrived, everything else is history,” and if you're somebody on that Trek list, you knew the name Madone. And just the message itself, there are a lot of calls to action: the link that says, “See the new Madone;” the actual picture of the bike was very clear and linked to a landing page; and then there was a little bit of text in there which was a nice balance and then had a picture of Lance Armstrong.

How do you get people on the list and manage it?

Casey: We have a variety of places for customers to opt in, from signing up on Trekbikes.com and also our product registration page, which is probably the largest conversion for opt-ins. We also have a traveling group of folks who do product demos. We have eight Volkswagen Touaregs that tow trailers around to demos, and when people sign a waiver to demo a bike, they have the option to give their e-mail and opt in to receive communications. We get a few hundred sign-ups a month through that process.

Was the campaign more successful than you expected?

Casey: The open rate of 36% was on the higher end of our average campaign sent to that list, but the click to open rate of 50% was definitely higher than we normally see, so we were pleased with the performance. Sending to a list this large to such a variety of ride styles and bike preferences, we couldn't have asked for better results considering it was such a specific message.

DJ: We generally see open rates across the board somewhere in the 20% [range]. And the click to open rate is really the key – that tells you how compelling the copy was. Half the number of people who opened this message clicked through to one of the links to read more about the new Madone – that number is significantly high.

What's different about this campaign – would you attribute the success to the copy and creative or the product itself?

Casey: It was our biggest project ever in terms of a total redesign of a bike frame platform and there was a bit of buzz in the cycling world about it. Our customers were familiar with the Madone model because that's what Lance [Armstrong] had been riding the previous couple of years in the Tour de France. It's safe to say we can attribute the name – Trek and Madone – as being the No.1 reason for the success.

DJ: Opens are typically driven by 2 things – either the “from” name – people recognize Trek and will open it no matter what. And then the subject line – as a consumer, I know it's from Trek but if the subject line talks about something I'm not interested in, I'm not going to open it. Once you open this e-mail though, the images and copy make a compelling reason to click through.

What are your plans as far as future campaigns?

Casey: It's important to be getting the right message to the right people. A focus for us will be better segmentation for the people who have signed up for our list. Maybe they're not a road biker and want to learn more about mountain biking, or riding their bike to work and the different subcultures in the cycling industry. I think our job is to get the right message to the right people and not a lot of [companies] are doing that yet.

DJ: That's probably where Casey and I will be working more together. That's where the client relationship comes in – sitting down and brainstorming how we best accomplish it not just from a design and campaign standpoint, but also using the application to make that happen.

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