E-Newsletter Gets Sales Smokin' at Cheaphumidors.com

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Sales at Cheaphumidors.com are burning up as the Web site entices customers to increase their order size and maintain loyalty with a weekly educational e-newsletter.

Since the start of this year, the Miramar, FL, company also has raised its average order from $102 to $127 by suggesting relevant add-on purchases. When the shopper has filled his cart and is ready to check out, a list of related items suggested for purchase appears. However, the recommended products are not just random items the site wants to move.

"It's a smart system that goes by what you have in your cart and what other people have purchased," Cheaphumidors owner Dave Sabot said. "They are strategic add-ons."

The site, which offers 100 different humidors, cigars and accessories, projects sales of $700,000 this year, up 32 percent from 2004. Sabot attributed the expected increase to its marketing and customer service.

Cheaphumidors also catches shoppers who leave the page in the middle of the shopping process. When users leave any of the site's products pages, a pop-up ad offers a 5 percent discount if they order in the next five minutes.

Though Cheaphumidors effectively targets new shoppers on the site, it would not be successful without its loyal customer base of 42,000 who opted to receive its weekly e-newsletter. Each e-newsletter educates cigar smokers on a different topic, from "What to do if your cigar is too dry" to "The top 10 ways to choose a humidor."

"I figured out my niche very early on: the beginning smoker who was given cigars from family and friends," Sabot said.

Then he researched cigar smoking and everything related and wrote informational material for the site, the e-newsletter and an e-book, which is about 70 pages of information -- not sales material -- that visitors to Cheaphumidors.com can download for free. The e-book is the main way Sabot has built the site's customer database, since visitors give their e-mail address when they download it.

The e-newsletter has developed such a following that customers e-mail him weekly asking when the next one is coming out. Along with providing education, the e-newsletter spurs sales with a standing coupon for 10 percent off any product on the site.

A second e-mail goes to everyone who makes a purchase, educating them on the warranties for the products and what they need to do if a problem occurs with the package. The automatic response e-mail "takes all the fear out of purchasing," Sabot said.

Monthly e-mail blasts offering discounts on six to 12 products also drive sales, along with the site's weekly "Midnight Madness" sale. The sale, held from midnight until 2 a.m. every Friday, deeply discounts a few select products. Sabot started the sale to compete with another cigar site that holds a weekly 1 a.m. "Madness" sale.

Sabot said he also plans to test a "Midday Madness" sale to determine whether it garners a higher response than the midnight sale.

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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