April 23, 2008, 12:00 AM

Crutchfield gets personal with shoppers to lift sales and click-throughs

By drilling down more into recent customer shopping sessions and consumer reviews to generate product offers, consumer electronics retailer Crutchfield has boosted both online sales and click-throughs in e-mail marketing, the retailer says.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce


By drilling down more into customer shopping sessions and consumer reviews to generate product offers, consumer electronics retailer Crutchfield has boosted both online sales and click-throughs in e-mail marketing, Zach Zimet, manager of catalog and e-mail marketing, tells Internet Retailer.

“In the past we looked at customers’ past purchasing history to generate offers, but now we look at what they’re doing between purchases on our site, even if they’re just researching or poking around,” Zimet says. “And so far that’s been more valuable.”

Crutchfield, No. 89 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, uses web analytics from Omniture Inc. to monitor visitor click activity within the past 10 days between purchases and between regularly distributed e-mail marketing messages, then generates segmented e-mailed offers based on that activity. In tests of these and other, more conventional e-mail marketing messages, it found that the messages segmented by recent browsing behavior produced click-through rates 40% higher than other more general interest messages, Zimet says.

In conducting the tests, Crutchfield sent both general site-wide offers and more specific product offers to three groups of shoppers: those for whom it had no information on their interest in specific products, those for whom it had information on product interest as shown in past purchasing behavior, and those for whom it had more recent information on product interest as shown in browsing activity between purchases. In the first two groups, recipients showed no noticeable difference in how they responded to general or specific product offers. But those in the third group showed a much stronger interest in the e-mails offering more specific product offers, producing the 40% higher click-through rate, Zimet says.

Crutchfield is now expanding the program to track the browsing behavior not only of e-mail recipients, but also anyone who places an order on its web site or signs up to register an account, establish a wish list or enter a contest. Although it uses Omniture analytics to automatically generate files of customers to send the segmented offers, it takes a more manual approach to configure marketing messages through its in-house e-mail program-a process that takes too long to handle large volumes of targeted customer files, Zimet says.

But now Crutchfield is also working with its in-house customer reviews application to automatically generate product offers based on products most recommended in customer reviews. These “customer favorite” offers have led to a 17% boost in sales compared to offers made through the retailer’s regular weekly e-mail campaigns, Zimet says.

Crutchfield has yet to combine the customer favorite campaigns with the campaigns based on recent browsing behavior, but the combination of the two holds more promise, Zimet says. “It’s a big learning experience for us,” he says. “And we’ve learned that we can use recent web browsing behavior to get a lift that we couldn’t get from just using past purchase behavior.”




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