December 2, 2010, 5:06 PM

E-mail prospecting program builds holiday sales for PalmBeachJewelry.com

The jewelry e-retailer added thousands of qualified e-mail leads in three months.

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To meet sales expectations this holiday, the marketing team at PalmBeachJewelry.com late this summer realized it needed to add to its e-mail database of potential customers. But it didn’t want to spend money buying lists or getting consumers to opt in by running ‘win an iPod’ promotions. PalmBeachJewelry.com wanted instead to get middle-aged and older women to volunteer their information because they were interested in the company’s costume jewelry.

To find these potential customers, the company ran e-mail sign-up advertisements on web sites hand-picked for their known audience demographics, such as Lifescript.com, a health and wellness site. To reduce the number of clicks involved in signing up, each ad included live fields where a consumer could enter her name and e-mail address and submit it without ever leaving the web site.

“We wanted transparency, and transparency comes from understanding the quality of the lead and knowing where it is coming from,” says Daniel DeYoung, PalmBeachJewelry.com’s director of marketing. DeYoung says the company wanted the sign-up process to be the least intrusive possible. “Ad placement was contextual. We did not want to pull them off the site and pull them to another. It was more about recognizing there was an affinity there and [potential customers] saying ‘I’m interested; send me an email.’”

And sign up they did. The company says it added 5,000 to 7,500 new e-mail subscribers each month since August. In November alone, those leads resulted in 175 orders, and more than 35% of those came from the four-day period immediately following Thanksgiving. DeYoung says the company sends more than 100,000 e-mails to customers each day, in total.

PalmBeachJewelry.com hired Pontiflex Inc., an e-mail and social acquisition provider, to design and place the ads on web sites that draw an audience similar to the e-retailer’s. PalmBeachJewelry.com pays per lead it acquires and says the system Pontiflex set up could provide more qualified leads per month if PalmBeachJewelry.com could afford to buy them.

“It’s putting a lot of people in the pipeline for our lead generation, and it’s going to be a staple for us. They are giving me as many leads as I am able to pay for,” DeYoung says, adding that the company has now made the Pontiflex program its primary paid lead prospecting channel.

After a consumer signs up to receive e-mails from PalmBeachJewerly.com, the e-retailer sends a welcome series of four e-mails to get the new recruit familiar with the site and its products. The e-retailer says consumers that come through the e-mail program browse more pages per visit and spend more time on the site than the company’s average visitor. The bounce rate also is lower. “They are very engaged in our site and the improvement on key performance indicators make me realize that we are fishing in the right waters with the e-mail placements,” DeYoung says.

DeYoung says the company also is measuring success based on the lifetime value the e-mail recruits present. Due to its late launch the program has yet to reach full maturity, but DeYoung says that the firm is encouraged that it will soon pay for itself in sales. 

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