Nine West Holiday E-Mails Are Right Fit

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A holiday e-mail campaign delivered bonuses for shoe and accessories retailer Nine West. Along with its primary goal of spurring sales, the effort corrected invalid customer street addresses, rewarded its best customers and yielded thousands of new names through an add-a-friend component.

The e-mails went to the company's 200,000-name e-mail database, with two main splits: 24,000 VIP loyalty program members designated the best customers and a mix of customers and prospects.

E-mails to VIP members included an offer of a $20 gift certificate. But because no minimum purchase was required, Nine West wanted to ensure customers could use it only once.

"Right now, we really do not have the technology to make [such a certificate] 'e-mailable' because we want them to only use it once, so it has to be something that we can mail to them," said Dianne Binford, director of consumer direct marketing at Nine West Group, White Plains, NY.

But the company had incorrect or incomplete street addresses for many recipients.

"Either we didn't have their address, or their postal mail was being returned undeliverable, or their address on file could not be standardized through our USPS address-hygiene program," she said.

As a result, e-mails to 36 percent of VIP members asked them to click through to a Web page to give their street address. The rest of the VIPs received messaging stating that they soon would get the gift certificate in the mail. Binford said 31 percent of those asked to provide their address did so.

If a person's address was near a store, she received a store discount. If the address was not near a store or if Nine West did not know the address, she got a certificate for an online purchase. Either way, all certificates were mailed.

The holiday VIP e-mails are part of a general effort to update street addresses through routine e-mail correspondence.

"In every e-mail, if the street address is incomplete or cannot be standardized or postal mail is getting returned undeliverable," Binford said, "we ask the e-mail recipient to 'click here' if she would like to receive local messages, thus bringing her to an online form where she can update her street address."

E-mail to other names in the database included a $10 gift certificate on a purchase of $75 or more. Most recipients were Club 9 members, a mix of prospects and customers who had signed up to receive e-mail offers. As that certificate included a minimum purchase, the company sent it right in the e-mail.

"Because we put a minimum spending criteria on these, we were not concerned about ensuring or even intending for these to be one-time use, and because of that, it wasn't necessary to send these via postal," Binford said. "That's as opposed to the larger VIP gift certificate, which truly was a thank-you gift and which had no strings attached, and for whom we intended that only the recipient use it and that she use it only once."

More than 10 percent of VIP members bought products with the gift certificate. The purchase rate for the rest of the e-mails was 4 percent.

All e-mails included a forward-to-a-friend offer, which offered free standard shipping in return for forwarding the e-mail. Binford said Nine West's e-mail list grew 17 percent after the promotion.

"Prior to that we were experiencing on average 5 percent growth per month," she said.

Nine West uses an in-house database for its campaigns and uses e-mail management services from Yesmail, Chicago.


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