Things Remembered Hopes Integrated Push Will Be Memorable for Customers

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Personalized gifts retailer Things Remembered Inc. is testing a multiple-contact strategy with its first integrated marketing push for its corporate gifts service, comprising e-mails, print mailers and outbound telemarketing.


The mall-based chain will reach 800,000 corporate customers and prospects at work addresses for special offers and suggested buys.


"People will get a phone call or an e-mail. They won't get both," said Sylvia Morrison, president of direct marketing at Wolf Group Cleveland, the agency for Things Remembered. "We're giving people a little bit of time to respond, and then they're getting either the telemarketing outbound efforts or push e-mail."


There is a reason for this dual-touch-point tactic.


"What we're trying to measure is to see if mail plus phone or mail plus e-mail gives an incremental lift in response to the whole program, but we don't want to have three contacts to one customer or prospect," Morrison said.


"What we've learned in the past is multi-contact results in a higher response rate and more revenue or return on investment for Things Remembered," she said.


The e-mails and mailers push clocks, writing instruments, frames and plaques, mugs, key chains, business card cases and money clips. Follow-up phone calls will provide support.


All communications offer best-gift suggestions on new products, ideas for personalization and 20 percent off on selected items through Aug. 15. Orders of $200 or more get free logo engraving, worth $50.


Mailers dropped this week, outbound telemarketing and e-mails will follow. E-mails and mailers will drop once, while 10,000 phone calls to preferred customers will be placed through May 20.


"We've noticed through our database of actual sales and transactions in the past year and a half that April and May is a key purchasing time of year for this segment," said Susan Gustafson, vice president of marketing at Things Remembered, Highland Heights, OH.


"There's spring and summer sales meetings as well as first-quarter celebration and recognition," Gustafson said.


Sixty percent of the overall effort reaches names rented from outside lists, while the rest are preferred customers from Things Remembered's database based on recency and order value.


E-mails will go out to 10 percent of the 800,000 consumers targeted for this effort. Consumers who click through will be taken to thingsremembered.com's home page.


In a way, this marketing push in the business-to-business segment in the April-May time frame also tests the consumer's willingness to spend so close to Mother's Day.


Morrison said there will be two different versions of the e-mail.


"One will be going to corporate," she said, "and one will be corporate plus the reminder that Mother's Day is around the corner. But it's all to the corporate segment. We're doing an a/b split, so that every other name gets the Mother's Day hint."


Dennis Benvenuto, vice president of the direct channel, which includes e-commerce and the catalog, said that on average, telemarketing brings in orders worth $300, and e-mail and direct mail bring in about $110 per sale.


He estimated that the telephone would get a 15 percent conversion rate and that the conversion rate for mailers would be 13.5 percent for existing customers and 1 percent to 1.5 percent for first-timers.


From e-mail, Benvenuto said, "we hope to get at least a half percent more conversion rate through the Web site. We're currently between 2 [percent] and 2.4 percent."


More than 30 years old and owned by optical retailer Cole National, Things Remembered has 788 stores nationwide. It drops 5 million catalogs in the spring, fall and holiday seasons.


Company revenue last year was more than $275 million, of which the Internet accounted for 2 percent to 3 percent, Benvenuto said.


The company also is revamping its Web site by upgrading the platform to IBM's Websphere.


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