Ask and You Shall Receive

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How Steve Madden used data and targeting to increase the customer value and relevance of its birthday email program.

The new digital marketing landscape requires marketers to be hyper-personalized in their campaign execution, especially when it comes to email. When consumers open their email, they expect brands to display relevant content that appeals to them directly, whether it's through the products that they see or the deals that they're offered.

Marketers have acknowledged this pain point. A 2015 Experian Data Quality report found that 50% of U.S. professionals think they can increase email engagement by enhancing personalization. But it's how marketers meet customers' expectations that's the real struggle: How do they capture the data needed to deliver personalization and, just as importantly, how do they maintain it?

At Steve Madden, our main goal for 2016 was to figure out how to better leverage the data we have to produce targeted campaigns on a regular basis. We also wanted to use email to capture more data on our customers. We knew that if we could better convey the value of a data exchange to our customers, it would be a win-win for both parties: Our email team would be more effective in segmenting campaigns to increase ROI, and our customers would receive personalized messages that are relevant to them.

The ask

We decided to start tackling these goals by enhancing targeted programs that already performed well for us, such as our monthly birthday campaign. Our birthday email goes out monthly to anyone we've identified with a birthday in that given month, giving them an exclusive code to use in their birthday month as a perk of being an email subscriber. Our goal was to increase this monthly audience and our amount of customer data, which in turn would increase the ROI of the program. 

To achieve these goals, we created a new birthday email campaign that targeted subscribers who had never given us their date of birth—a surprisingly large portion of our email file. We included a “sign up to receive a special gift” call-to-action button within the email, which directed subscribers to a data-input form when clicked on. The form was created within our email service provider, which eliminated the need for additional tech resources and cut down on turnaround time significantly.

We asked these subscribers for their first name, gender, and date of birth. Upon submission, customers were led to a “thank you” landing page on our website where a “new arrivals” call-to-action encouraged them to shop.


The results

The campaign was extremely successful. On the first send, there was a 5% conversion rate of acquiring new birthdays, which in turn increased the universe of our monthly birthday program by 20%. The responder-to-open rate on this campaign was 80% higher than our normal marketing campaigns. After all, it was content that our audience found compelling, valuable, and actionable, provoking the customer to click through. And because the customer landed on our website after submitting the form, the campaign was highly profitable, even though the main call-to-action in the email was to capture birthdays. 

This could hint to a psychological effect: Customers felt like they gained something by obtaining a future-use coupon code, and it motivated them to buy from us. It helped increase their bond with the brand by trusting us with their personal information and then receiving a benefit from being an email subscriber.

Ask and you shall receive

To maintain this data and further increase this audience, we added a dynamic banner to our marketing emails that allows us to collect data from anyone who still hasn't provided their date of birth. We strategically place this content in emails to increase click-through and conversion rates for our regular batch-and-blast campaigns. Additionally, we're working to apply this growth strategy to other potential segments, such as our universe of student profiles, as well as “style persona” profiles.

In the end, the lesson that we learned from this data-capture campaign is simple: Customers are willing to give brands their personal information when they feel like it will benefit them. All you have to do is ask.

About the authors: 

Philippia Vaartstra fell into the world of email marketing while working at a growth-stage tech startup during her senior year in college. During her time there, she built a B2B email marketing program from the ground up. She is currently the email marketing coordinator at Steve Madden, where she is a constant champion for testing, ROI-driven decision-making, and collaborating on forward-thinking programs.

Lisa Safdieh is the senior manager for mobile and online business development at Steve Madden. She has been at Steve Madden for more than 10 years and has been involved in every aspect of the business, from product to overall business strategy. Her responsibilities today include overseeing the email program, developing  the mobile app, and working closely with the team on the brand's site and content strategy.  Prior to Steve Madden, she worked in marketing for a large wholesale diamond manufacturer.

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