June 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Broad, triggered and personalized e-mails work for The Wet Seal

Women`s fashion retailer The Wet Seal places emphasis on e-mail marketing as it reaches out to customers to convince them to shop online and in stores. General messages to the base along with focused notes engage customers, said a Wet Seal exec at IRCE.

E-mail marketing is pervasive and persuasive, and it can be used not only to drive customers to retail web sites but also to retail stores. This is the thinking behind the e-mail marketing efforts of multichannel merchant The Wet Seal Inc., which sells apparel and accessories aimed at young women.

First it sends a weekly e-mail message to its entire customer base. This message may contain a promotion or special sale, or it may just contain a message highlighting a certain fashion. These are by no means personalized e-mails, but they have reach, their return on investment is fair and they are exceptional for branding purposes, said Jon Kosoff, director of e-commerce and direct marketing at The Wet Seal, during a session titled "Making Marketing Work Across Channels" at the IRCE in Boston.

Second comes triggered e-mails. Wet Seal, No. 334 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has 15 triggers lined up for special, more focused messages. These triggers include welcome, birthday, loyalty event, top customers and lapsed customers.

"We have data teams sift through information every day; we wouldn`t be able to successfully do triggers otherwise," Kosoff said. "We have an open rate over 50% on some of these campaigns. These are not as scalable-not everyone has more than one birthday a year-and resources required are higher, but the ROI is higher than on the weekly e-mails and branding value remains high."

And third is personalized e-mails. For example, a personalized e-mail may contain a 10% off coupon that also features a bar code for printing and the address of the store closest to the e-mail recipient. "As you move closer to personalization," Kosoff said, "your costs increase-but so does your profit."

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