Q&A: IKEA, 89 Degrees Discuss Award-Winning Store Opening Email Campaign
eM+C recently spoke with Marty McGuire, direct marketing manager of IKEA US, and Ann Hopps Morgan, partner and vice president of strategic marketing services for 89 Degrees, a Burlington, Mass.-based integrated marketing agency, about an award-winning email campaign promoting a recent IKEA store opening in Charlotte, N.C.
The campaign nabbed a bronze Engaged Marketer award from Silverpop, based on IKEA's message personalization, dynamic content, use of preference centers and social marketing, as well as the overall strength of the examples submitted in terms of engaging customers and prospects. Here are highlights from the discussion:
eM+C: Can you tell me more about the campaign for which you received a "2009 Engaged Marketer" award?
Marty McGuire: When IKEA enters a new market, the store’s arrival is typically greeted by a mixture of excitement and bewilderment about the big blue store that’s been under construction for months. While there are many die-hard fans who camp out overnight in the parking lot to be first in line when the store opens, there are others who have basic questions: What are flat-pack boxes? How do I benefit from assembling IKEA furniture myself? What is Småland, and are my children old enough?
As is always the case with a new IKEA store in a new market, we felt we had some education to do. Our theme for Charlotte was “Try Something Different.” We wanted to show the Charlotte market why IKEA is so unique. We also needed to drive traffic to the store for grand opening special events. And, of course, as relationship marketers we were looking to build our database.
Ann Hopps Morgan: We developed an online campaign that made learning about IKEA Charlotte fun and rewarding. The centerpiece was a robust microsite. For existing IKEA fans, an “Events” section of the site highlighted opening day activities and door prizes. For less experienced consumers, the site featured a “Know Before You Go” module that showcased key elements of the unique IKEA value proposition.
To encourage prospects to register and existing registrants to update their profiles, we created a mobile game themed around IKEA’s signature blue shopping bag. To enter for a chance to win a $250 shopping spree, consumers texted "BIGBLUEBAG" on their mobile devices and were asked three simple questions about the useful, eco-friendly bag.
In addition, visitors to the microsite could print a sweepstakes entry form to deposit at the store. They were also invited to register for future IKEA emails and mobile SMS messaging, including opening day email and mobile reminders. The reminders proved to be extremely popular, with two-thirds of registrants signing up.
eM+C: To whom was the email campaign targeted? Customers? Prospects?
AHM: Even before the Charlotte store opened, we had tens of thousands of local email opt-ins in the IKEA database. Some area residents regularly trekked 250 miles to the nearest IKEA store in Atlanta. So our first order of business was to get news of the grand opening events and the "Big Blue Bag" game out to these loyal IKEA customers. Initially, we did two email pushes: an announcement and a follow-up approximately one week before opening day. Folks who requested email/mobile reminders received a third touch the day before the opening.
MM: Online and print advertising drove prospects to the grand opening web microsite, as well as directly to the mobile "Big Blue Bag" game. New subscribers received a real-time welcome email, were included in grand opening ollow-up/reminder emails and immediately were put in queue to start receiving other IKEA emails. All total, grand opening marketing increased our Charlotte-area opt-in database by more than 35 percent. And thanks to an ongoing emphasis on registration, the number of new email subscribers has more than doubled since the opening.
eM+C: Can you discuss results around the campaign?
AHM: Response to our first announcement email was especially strong: over 40 percent opened, and more than half of respondents clicked on one or more links. Not surprisingly, open rates for the customer-requested reminder email were over 55 percent.
MM: Market research that 89 Degrees just completed for us suggests that email subscribers are significantly more valuable than nonsubscribers. As a result, continuing to grow our opt-in database is a key initiative. Mobile opt-ins are becoming increasingly important as well.
eM+C: Why did you decide to use email to promote a local store opening?
MM: It works. Email has proven its effectiveness over and over again as a key component of IKEA GO marketing. It’s also very cost effective, which helps us manage our grand opening budgets. But given our target audience demographics, email is also many customers’ preferred channel, which we want to respect.
All About eMail will feature part two of the Q&A next week, where Morgan and McGuire will discuss additional campaigns they worked on together and best practices.