Stanley Steemer Cleans Up Its Email and Direct Mail Strategies
An orderly and seamless customer experience is just what the carpet cleaning company needed.
The modern customer's path to purchase is often a messy one. Instead of traveling a clean, linear path, customers bounce from channel to channel and leave a muddled trail for marketers to decipher. Stanley Steemer wanted to create a more flawless flow from its direct mail to email channels. So the national carpet and floor cleaning company polished up its marketing strategies to create a more seamless experience that would drive engagement and business from new and existing customers, alike.
Before deciding to spruce up its direct mail and email strategies, there were a few unkempt spots in Stanley Steemer's marketing approach—mainly silos. “We had previously worked in the direct mail and email space,” says Chelsea Penzone, Stanley Steemer's marketing manager. “However, those two pieces didn't really work that well together.”
The company was sending only one promotional email a month, according to Penzone, and it couldn't track the effectiveness of its email or direct mail programs very well. “We weren't gleaning as much information as we could from lead campaigns to make better decisions about the next campaign,” she added.
But instead of trying to tackle both channels at once, Stanley Steemer decided to focus on its email channel first, because it already had a direct mail service provider. As a result, the company hired marketing agency Baesman to help freshen up its strategy and launched a new email program in December 2013.
Stanley Steemer now sends three emails a month. It sends one promotional email at the beginning of the month and one at the end of the month—each containing the same offer. In addition, the company sends a more content-driven email in the middle of the month, such as one containing new product or service introductions or tips on how to keep a tidy house. Occasionally, it will also send one-off emails for new products or services.
The company also revamped its welcome series. It freshened the series' design and updated its content.
Along with changing the content and frequency of its emails, Stanley Steemer adjusted its segmentation model. In the past the company didn't really have a segmentation strategy, aside from segmenting branch or franchise contacts, according to Kim Welther, director of client services for Baesman. Now, the carpet and floor cleaning company segments by customer engagement (opens and clicks) and purchase behaviors, offers, and branch or franchise groups, she says. For instance, if a customer just had a carpet cleaning, Stanley Steemer may send her a series about hardwood floor cleaning to expose her to other products and services, Penzone says. Or, if a customer shows a decrease in activity, the company may send an additional contact series.
“We really want to get our customers on that cleaning every three to four months cadence,” Penzone says. “And with direct mail and email, I think those are great ways for us to keep our current clients.”
But existing customers aren't the only clientele Stanley Steemer is interested in attracting; the carpet cleaner also wants to acquire new customers. And direct mail is generally one of the first forms of contact that prospective customers have with the company. So, Stanley Steemer decided to extend its relationship with Baesman and have it head its direct mail strategies in April 2014.
“I want our customer experience to be consistent across channels and having different vendors and different strategies wasn't accomplishing that goal,” Penzone says.
As with its emails prior to Baesman, Stanley Steemer didn't really leverage segmentation when it came to direct mail, Welther says. Now, the company sends different direct mail pieces based on list information and purchase behavior (e.g., customers who buy expensive furniture). In fact, Stanley Steemer now sends nine direct mail pieces a year with 10 to 20 different segmented versions for each campaign, she explains.
Because most cleaning appointments are booked over the phone, Stanley Steemer's call center employees use prospects' email address to send them appointment confirmations, as well as marketing materials once they become a customer.
Sparkling results...and a few minor spills
Since launching its programs, Stanley Steemer has seen results that are nothing short of shiny and bright. According to Welther, the company has experienced a 33% increase in response rate (bookings) through its direct mail efforts, and a 200% increase in response rates after launching its first acquisition campaign. In addition, the company's email marketing has helped generate a 20% month-over-month increase in online bookings, which has also led to a boost in sales.
In fact, Stanley Steemer's success has inspired its marketers to further grow its email program. Last month the company debuted a trigger program for incomplete or cancelled orders, which is like an abandoned cart program, and has already seen a 50% increase in average open rates.
That's not to say that Stanley Steemer's experience was completely unblemished. For instance, the carpet cleaner has franchise owners—most of whom aren't email marketing or direct mail experts. So, the company has had to spend time educating them. Now, about 50 of the company's estimated 180 franchise owners participate in the direct mail program, according to Penzone.
But, overall, Penzone says that having a distinct plan helped Stanley Steemer launch its programs in a neat and orderly fashion. “We had clear expectations, we had goals, and we check in with those goals,” she says. “That was the best thing that I could have done to make this successful."