Better Delivery Helps Baseball Express Improve E-Mail Pitches

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Online sales have risen more than 400 percent for Baseball Express in the past year since the multichannel baseball and softball distributor improved e-mail delivery and segmented its e-mail lists.


Gina Perez, the company's senior manager of e-commerce, attributed the increase to developing a more sophisticated e-mail marketing program, which includes segmenting its 400,000-file e-mail database into "good," "better" and "best" customers.


Baseball Express also cleaned up its e-mail lists and delivery. Early last year, it switched from a local marketing company that did not specialize in e-mail and began working with Responsys, Redwood City, CA.


The San Antonio company sells equipment and apparel via its catalogs, Web site and one retail outlet in San Antonio.


Though its previous marketing firm managed Baseball Express' lists -- leaving executives wondering how well the agency was handling opt outs and other delivery issues -- Responsys set up the lists to be managed in-house.


Delivery improved after Responsys helped clean the lists and tracked ISPs that weren't letting e-mails through. Still, segmenting its e-mail database and tracking sales from each segment have had the most effect on Web sales, Perez said.


Last summer, the company e-mailed an offer on T-shirts and other baseball-themed products to customers who had looked at or purchased those products in the past three months.


"We nearly doubled our profits versus last year while sending it out to a third of the customers," Perez said. In addition, the e-mail achieved a 40 percent open rate and an 11 percent click-through rate.


Sales also rose when Baseball Express segmented its list to promote a holiday free shipping offer, which was added to the site in November.


Weekly e-mails alternated to its good, better and best customer groups, with the "best" list converting the most sales. And segmentation helped executives gain more insight into behaviors and responses of each group.


Perez said Baseball Express will apply what it learned over the holidays to add even more sophisticated segmentation this year.


"Along with relevancy, we're going to try to hit our big customers more times than our medium groups," she said. The retailer also wants to study each group to learn "what makes them tick and what is going to push them over the edge to convert."


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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