ReCollections' E-Mails Are a Keepsake

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An e-mail marketing campaign for a new retailer of scrapbook supplies last year produced a combined 59 percent open rate.

ReCollections opened its first two stores last year in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is owned by Michaels Stores, a retailer of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall decor and seasonal merchandise for hobbyists and do-it-yourself home decorators.

ReCollections decided to use e-mail marketing to entice visitors to shop at the new stores, said Jeff Hanson, Michaels senior manager of Internet services, and also because of e-mail's low cost.

"When you've got a new company that you are trying to get going, you want to keep the costs as low as possible," he said.

The first e-mail was sent a week before Thanksgiving, and a second went a few weeks before Christmas. Several thousand e-mails were sent each time to people living in the Dallas area, including names taken from lists of local scrapbook stores that were going out of business.

The personalized e-mails were created by ReCollections and promoted holiday sales along with scrapbooking workshops and classes, new products, holiday hours and other offers. They also noted that new stores were opening soon in Phoenix, Atlanta, Washington and other cities. And the e-mails promoted the ReCollections Free Royalty card, which lets members save 5 percent on purchases when they show their card.

The e-mails also asked recipients whether they wished to receive monthly e-mail updates. There was no ability to respond within the e-mails, however, so recipients were instructed to visit or call a store.

"The e-mails were just packed with information because we didn't really have our Web site up and running completely yet," said Hanson, who added that the company now is making changes to add more graphics to e-mails.

Besides producing a high open rate, traffic in the north Dallas store rose in the five days after each e-mail was sent.

A key reason for success was that many recipients forwarded their e-mails to friends, Hanson said. One recipient forwarded the e-mail to 42 others. ReCollections tracked the IP addresses, so it "knew the e-mail addresses that we had, and since we didn't have [their friends' names] we knew they must have been forwarded.

"We were so surprised by this," he said. "It signifies that people are just dying for this information."

ReCollections used Santa Ana, CA-based mUrgent Corp.'s Empact e-marketing software for the campaigns.

"We needed an e-mail marketing package that was easy to use and did not demand a great deal of maintenance," Hanson said. "Empact's feature richness made it simple to upload the content, manage our distribution lists and schedule our campaign timing quickly."

ReCollections plans to run 15 to 20 e-mail campaigns in 2004.


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