Hitmetrix - User behavior analytics & recording

MySeasons' Campaigns Put Database in Full Bloom

MySeasons.com recently netted the equivalent of a week's worth of sales in one day simply by sending out a special offer to its database of registered members.

While this may sound less than amazing considering these consumers already were interested in receiving offers from this gardening e-commerce site, it is somewhat of a feat since the company had zero names in its database only nine months ago.

MySeasons decided to take a database marketing approach when it went live in January, unveiling a series of promotions. The goal was to harvest as many consumer names as possible for the company database. The result was a database that reached 250,000 names in nine months.

The database began with MySeasons' first effort — the Free Seeds campaign. The site ran 20 million-plus impressions across 20 sites and newsletters from March 17-30. The offer was for a free pack of seeds for users who registered at the site.

Of those who clicked on the banners and were taken to a registration microsite, 17.5 percent filled out the form. More than 25 percent of recipients of various e-mail messages went on to register at the site.

“That happened because it was a compelling and targeted offer directed at a passionate gardening audience,” said Laura Berland, co-founder of ORB Communications & Marketing Inc., an Internet marketing and technology services company in New York that ran the campaigns for the site.

“It wasn't the dollar value of the free gift, because it had marginal street value, but it had great emotional appeal: 'I'm a gardener. I love gardening. Wow, this site is giving me free seeds. It feeds directly into my passion.' “

A follow-up e-mail campaign that offered 20 percent to 50 percent off items at the site yielded a 9.55 percent click-through rate.

From July 7 to Sept. 15, the company's Trip to Holland campaign took its data collection efforts to a new level. It ran more than 50 million impressions on 17 sites and newsletters, increasing its database by 200,000 names — a 395 percent increase.

The ads offered consumers who registered at the site a chance to win a trip for two to the Keukenhof Garden, the Bulb Growing District and Breck's Test Gardens in Holland. They could refer friends to increase their chances of winning.

Optimization played a big part in stocking the database.

“We can view transaction results in real time and make adjustments. I'm not just looking at where the clicks are coming from, I'm also looking where the transaction response is coming from,” Berland said. “If you optimize just on click through, you often miss your great opportunities.”

Once the site's database was brimming with interested consumers, MySeasons.com unleashed two one-day sales called Plant Now and the Greenhouse Sale. The latter campaign netted one week's worth of sales in one business day, said John Roman, vice president of marketing at MySeasons, New York.

“We obviously recognize the value of the database,” he said. “This company is made up of people experienced in direct and catalog marketing. We're interested in our target audience, conversion and reality. We're not interested in broad marketing messages.”

The ads for the campaigns ran on sites that appeal to MySeasons.com's target audience of women age 35 to 64, including Women.com, Coolsavings.com and Betterhomesandgardens.com.

MySeasons.com also tested lists from Yesmail, PostMasterDirect, MyPoints.com and Publishers Clearing House.

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