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Marketing With a Memory


To stand out in a competitive marketplace and help shoppers feel more connected with their favorite brands, many retailers are upping their e-mail marketing strategies to develop and retain more customers.

In line with the trend, the 159-year-old footwear and accessories company Johnston & Murphy has implemented a targeted e-mail marketing solution to better reach shoppers and ultimately increase sales. Previously, the firm used a general e-mail blast program that sent the same message to its entire shopper database.

“The method was pretty addictive and we did get results, but we wanted to hone in on what was right for each customer,” said Heather Marsh, director, customer information management, Johnston & Murphy, Nashville, Tenn., which operates 150 stores and also has a catalog and an e-commerce channel.

The retailer turned to a one-to-one marketing platform from Indianapolis-based ExactTarget. The solution is designed to deliver relevant e-mails to customers to drive repeat purchases and keep customers connected to the company’s brand.

Johnston & Murphy also engaged a multichannel marketing agency, Customer Portfolios. The Boston-based company works directly with the retailer to develop and deliver its automated online marketing program using ExactTarget’s technology.

The results have been extremely positive: The retailer boosted its e-mail-based sales volume by more than 140%.

One of Johnston & Murphy’s keys to success is its use of automated, triggered e-mail messages that deliver the right message or offer based on the customer’s segment (e-mail subscriber lists can be segmented by location, gender, age, past purchases, etc.) and life-cycle stage (how frequent their purchases have been, if they’ve purchased anything yet, etc.).

For example, if a customer has purchased black wing-tip men’s shoes, Johnston & Murphy will look at their database to see what products others who have purchased the same shoes also bought, and the company will send a triggered e-mail to that customer suggesting those products. The company also captures its customers’ e-mail address at point of sale.

“We try to send out an e-mail once a week at most, but sometimes we cheat around the holidays,” Marsh explained. “We are usually pretty strict about those limitations though, to avoid e-mail fatigue and opt-outs. Just because you have someone’s e-mail address doesn’t mean you can reach out to them as much as you want.”

With this marketing approach, the retailer increased its e-mail open rate by 40%, and sales jumped 140%.

Predictive modeling is another technique that Johnston & Murphy takes advantage of to maximize its e-mail program. By using numerous behavioral attributes, the company assigns scores to all multi-purchase customers. These scores enable the retailer to execute e-mail programs that are optimized for product relevance and timing.

For example, the company uses 128 different attributes—such as how much the customer usually spends, last date of purchase, and most-purchased style—and gives each customer a score based on that behavior.

“This allows us to go after very specific customers, from those that spend more than $250 on a classic shoe to those that prefer fashion-forward products,” Marsh said.

With this approach, the company has seen a 150% increase in orders and a 200% increase in revenue. In addition, the efforts have tripled traffic to its Web store locator in the past two years.

“Overall, targeted e-mails have allowed us to provide more personalized content to our clients and drive significantly more business than a traditional standalone e-mail or catalog-based campaign,” Marsh said. “The partnership with Customer Portfolios and ExactTarget enables us to automate our e-marketing efforts and provide our clients with the personal level of service they expect from our brand.”

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