Nuts & Bolts - 5-Minute Interview: Tried-and-true Turned Trendy
Putting a new spin on the direct marketing mantras “write relevant” and “segment for profitability,” Canadian clothing company West49 introduced gender segmentation then revamped e-mail subject lines with a hook to drive customers to retail stores.
Using the logo “skating = life” and the loyalty program insignia “belonging = fun,” the skatewear company with music downloads and band blogs on its Web site presents itself as an edgy brand to target customers age 12 to 17. After more carefully crafting its subject lines and implementing gender segmentation, West49 further increased customer personalization, resulting in a 75 percent to 100 percent increase in open rates, and a 100 percent increase in clickthroughs.
Following the first segmented e-mail, the company saw a gradual increase in response; and after five e-mails, the results leveled out and have remained steady, says Brent Laderoute, West49’s head of advertising. “You need to focus on being relevant; getting the right message to the right person is essential, and gender segmentation further allowed us to do this because we will send the male segment male product and the female segment appropriate product for them.” Here, Laderoute details more of West49’s segmentation success.
Target Marketing: What type of data do you gather through e-mail tracking and how do you use that information to better target e-mail campaigns?
Brent Laderoute: First, we analyze clickthroughs from previous e-mails and look for trends. If we see a big enough trend, we can create new segments, allowing us to focus future messages on that group’s common interests. For example, with our holiday promotion last year, there were groups that seemed more interested in our online contests; in this case, users could build their wish list and then enter to win it. Using contest-related subject headings in our newsletter will increase our opens and clickthroughs for this particular segment.
We also personalize different elements within the e-mails based on segmentation for our message. So it’s not a design nightmare, we use dynamic segmentation to order content and to customize the content based on different segments. This allows us to build one main e-mail that can deliver custom content to various segments.
TM: How do you use segmentation to increase open rates? Has this translated into increased conversions?
BL: There are a few ways we segment. One of the most effective changes we implemented was to segment by gender. It was also very easy to implement and to create custom content for sending each gender information on appropriate product.
We also look at geo-targeting and send creative that is relevant for things like local events, offers available from partners we may have in different regions, as well as taking into consideration weather conditions. To send someone on one side of the country a coat promotion may not be relevant to people in other areas. We don’t want to send messages about a winter coat sale when it is still sunny and warm to someone who is still wearing T-shirts and shorts.
In addition, we further segment through the loyalty program and will send those members different messages and more frequent e-mails as well. Loyalty members are more willing to receive more frequent e-mails than non-loyalty members.
We also get much better open and clickthrough rates from that segment.
TM: Can you illustrate how you tweaked a subject line to boost response?
BL: Last December we created two static segments using about 2 percent of our list. We added a sense of urgency to a previously offered “win your wish list” promotion. We used an attention-grabbing subject line, “One week left to enter to win your wish list”—that sense of urgency was the driver. We sent each group the exact same content, but each had a different subject line.
We examined the results after 24 hours and found that one had an open rate of 8.15 percent, where the other came in at 26.98 percent. The other result we did not expect was [that] the group that had the better open rate also had a much higher clickthrough rate, 11.86 percent vs. 2.26 percent. These results really drove home the benefits of taking the time to do subject line testing. Getting them engaged right from the start keeps them engaged as they read through your messaging.