Shoe Retailer Puts Its Best Foot Forward with Targeted Email Marketing

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Office Shoes taps email to boost sales with customer-centric communications
Office Shoes taps email to boost sales with customer-centric communications

Client: Office Shoes
Agency: Emailvision
Objective:
Use email to gain insights into existing customer behavior and preferences with the ultimate goal of maximizing customer lifetime value

The Offer: Targeting: When it's good, it's really good, but when it's bad—it's really bad, says Scott Taylor, CRM manager at Office Shoes, a UK-based shoe retailer that has turned targeted email communications and segmentation into a kind of art form.

Before making email a focus of its multichannel mix, Office Shoes' email strategy was similar to many retailers' first experiments with the channel: “Sending email for the sake of sending email, with no sophisticated segmentation or customer insight,” Taylor says.

The biggest challenge for the footwear retailer in creating targeted email communications was getting to know the customer in a truly holistic way.

“We all receive emails from different brands and if we feel like they don't appreciate us, we might not stay with the brand,” Taylor says. “Customers are saying, ‘Give me something spot on and relevant to me.'”

Today, Office Shoes uses Emailvision's Campaign Commander Customer Intelligence tool to do just that, providing “customers the best communication possible with the data they've given us,” Taylor says. While getting more customers is always an item high on a retailer's agenda, Office Shoes' focus is to acquire a better understanding of its current customer database rather than acquiring many new customers who may only place one order and move on.

“We've calculated who the brand advocates are, who's engaging, and who's not responding as far as we'd like,” Taylor says. “Now we're thinking about customer engagement and getting it all to a point where customers are spending more money, more frequently.”

The Data: Using the Campaign Commander Customer Intelligence tool, Office Shoes made a concerted effort to drill down deeply into its customer demographics. The fashionable brand was already aware of its popularity with female students ages 18 to 25, but Millennials weren't the only Office Shoes fans, and it was time to start targeting other customer segments. For example, Office Shoes offers an array of kids' gear and rugged boots for men. With such a varied customer base, “a single touch isn't going to do the trick,” says Beth Curtis-Clarke, strategic account manager at Emailvision.

“In the past six months to a year we've taken a step back and asked, ‘Well, what about the demographic of people with children or people who go to festivals?” Curtis-Clarke says. “So, students [are a large part of the customer base], yes, but we've cleverly split up the demographics and there are many approaches.”

Office Shoes is also kicking its email and social integration into high gear. As the brand's most social customers, students are primed to be Office Shoes influencers, creating what Taylor calls “a butterfly effect.”

All of this is possible because of the insights derived from the Customer Intelligence tool, which Taylor says allows him to easily determine preference, behavior, and spending profiles. This data includes how much, where, when, and at what frequency customers spend.

“Then we take our learnings and put them into action to build relationships with our customers,” he says. “Email has that power to be both diverse and targeted—and you can expect results if you use it strategically.”

The Channel: The Campaign Commander Customer Intelligence tool enables users to run fast, detailed queries on millions of transactional data records to provide a 360-degree customer view marketers can analyze to parse segments for myriad targeted campaigns based on demographics, customer preferences, and purchase history. Customer Intelligence also has a data visualization capability to help marketers digest key insights.

“With targeting, if you hit the right customer with the right information, they're going to stay and engage with the brand, and they'll usually go on to purchase,” Taylor says. “We've done testing with conversion rates and open rates, and it's no coincidence that they get higher if you're doing it right.”

The Creative: In one standout example of “doing it right,” Office Shoes experimented with an exclusive email offer. First, the brand sent out a trial message to three groups: male customers, female customers, and “inactives”—customers who open emails, but don't click within a specified period of time. Taylor and his team noticed that within the inactive segment, some customers preferred receiving email offers and used them in-store instead of online.

Several weeks later Office Shoes included the words online exclusive in the subject line of a message sent to that segment and as expected, open rates were low. For subsequent email campaigns, the marketing department swapped out the word online with in-store—and presto, the open rate skyrocketed.

“When we put that angle on it, the message became more relevant to those customers—that's what they want and what we want,” Taylor says. “Even though they didn't necessarily tell us what they want, we were able to see it from the trends and patterns.”

The Strategy: Office Shoes centers its email strategy on RFM analysis, that is, recency of purchase, frequency of visits, and monetary amount spent.

“The golden, underlying rule of RFM is that you get the majority of your revenue from 20% of your customers, and while the rest of the customers are really important, the way of approaching the high-spending and high-frequency customer is very different from the way you approach the customer who purchases one pair of Wellington boots a year,” says Emailvision's Curtis-Clarke. “RFM is a clever way of knowing how to talk to the customer.”

To that end, Office Shoes plans to spend more time on its VIP customers in 2013 by creating an exclusive club that goes beyond offering simple rewards by giving brand advocates special perks, including free next-day delivery.

The Results: According to Taylor, the fashion footwear retailer's email efforts brought in “the highest KPIs I've seen in my experience,” with a 64% increase in open rates and a 240% uptick in click-through rates in targeted versus non-targeted emails.

“Email holds your customer's data, which is the richest content you can get as a brand,” Taylor says. “With email marketing there are no limits and as a brand, we've only just started to scratch the surface.”

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