January 27, 2011, 11:47 AM

Segmented e-mails boost an online retailer’s open rates

DiscountFurnaceFilter.com hopes the effort boosts its repeat business.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Roughly 80% of online filter and humidifier retailer DiscountFurnaceFilter.com’s business comes from new customers. Because many of the retailer’s products, like furnace filters, only last a few months, DiscountFurnaceFilter figured that it was missing out on a significant growth opportunity by not encouraging those one-time buyers to return.

“We realized that by staying in closer contact with our customer base and bringing them back into the fold we had a tremendous growth opportunity,” says Will Housh, president and CEO of Housh Inc., the retailer’s parent company.

While the retailer had sent out e-mail blast promotions a few times a year to every consumer who had ever registered an e-mail address on the site, those promotions were time-consuming and an administrative nightmare, says Housh. Even so, the open rate of those e-mails ranged between 18% and 20%, with a conversion rate between 5% and 7%.

To improve the effectiveness of its messaging, in September the retailer began working with Listrak to improve results from its e-mail messages, and to tailor messages to specific audiences. 

Using Listrak’s purchase cadence optimization offering, which sends automated e-mails that prompt customers to repurchase the exact products they purchased in the past, DiscountFurnaceFilter.com has boosted its e-mail open rate to 24%. The e-mail messages have nearly a 10% click-through rate.

The retailer currently is sending targeted messages to consumers focused only on the specific SKU the consumer bought in the past. Of the site’s nearly 12,000 SKUs, it is sending targeted messages for several hundred, with plans to add more in the coming months.

By increasing its repeat business, DiscountFurnaceFilter.com will reduce its costs because it won’t rely on acquiring new customers to increase sales, says Housh.

“From a cost control perspective, this just makes sense,” he says. 

DiscountFurnaceFilter.com hopes the effort boosts its repeat business.

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