E-Mails Bring Swift Online Sales of Armstrong Cycling Jersey

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An e-mail campaign promoting a commemorative jersey from the U.S. Postal Service's Pro Cycling Team was a success for Bicycle Garage Indy, a bicycle and related-gear retailer with two Indianapolis locations and a Web site (www.bgindy.com).


In July, one day before Lance Armstrong won his sixth consecutive Tour de France, BGI owner Randy Clark noticed that the USPS team was wearing a new Nike/Trek commemorative jersey.


Clark immediately called Trek Bicycle Corp., the shirt's manufacturer, and learned that the company created a limited run of merchandise to celebrate Armstrong's six consecutive victories. BGI placed a large order for the merchandise and was among the first companies to receive it, in about two weeks.


Using an e-mail marketing system from ExactTarget, Indianapolis, Clark sent a notice to his 13,000-count in-house e-mail database. It promoted the exclusive shirts and a chance to preorder the merchandise and secure the shirts on a first-come, first-served basis before they reached the company's shelves. Clark said nearly 1,000 customers opened the e-mail and clicked onto the BGI site.


BGI had used the Internet to advertise in the past, but this was its first true effort at selling merchandise online, and "the payoff was great," said Clark, who generated $10,000 in sales. This surpassed the $7,000 in online sales his company took in during the entire first six months of 2004.


"We were pleased with the rate the e-mail was viewed and the click-through rate, but we were especially delighted with the volume of orders," he said. "The e-mail campaign also limited our risk because, with the preorders, we knew exactly how much inventory to order."


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