June 28, 2002, 12:00 AM

Miles Kimball undertakes its first e-mail marketing

Miles Kimball, retailer of greeting cards and specialty items to a mid market clientele, will market to 320,000 customers in its first e-mail effort this month.

Miles Kimball Inc. is undertaking its first e-mail marketing campaign this month, sending promotions to 320,000 customers who have provided their e-mail addresses to the Oshkosh, WI-based retailer of greeting cards and specialty items.

While Miles Kimball has been on the web since 1999, this is its first e-mail campaign. It has gathered the addresses from web orders and inquiries and by encouraging call center personnel to ask customers for their e-mail addresses. Miles Kimball’s Exposures brand, which sells frames, photo albums, storage boxes and other photo-related merchandise, went on the web in May 1999 with the Miles Kimball brand, which sells specialty items and novelties, following a few months later, Karl Kroeplin, Miles Kimball’s vice president of information technology, tells InternetRetailer.com.

The company is hoping the e-mail campaign will boost web sales, which account for less than 10% of the Miles Kimball brand sales. A surprising 60% of Miles Kimball’s orders come through mail order, about 30% over the phone. In the Exposures group, 25% of orders come over the web and most of the balance over the phone.

The discrepancy is explained at least in part by the contrasting audiences for the two brands. The typical Miles Kimball customer is a 45- to 50-year-old woman in the middle to lower-middle income bracket, Kroeplin says. The typical Exposures customers is 35 or older with a household income of $80,000. Miles Kimball, which has annual sales of about $140 million a year, handles 8,000 to 10,000 orders in an average day and up to 40,000 a day in the final four months of the year.

Miles Kimball also is embarking on other Internet-based marketing, including keyword purchase at search engines and affiliate marketing programs, Kroeplin says.

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