August 30, 2011, 2:31 PM

Irene’s powerful winds blow sales to

The lighting gear retailer boosts sales with hurricane-themed e-mail blasts.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

The e-mail ad offering a 10% discount.

Thanks to Hurricane Irene, EBulb Inc., which operates the e-commerce site, had one of the most interesting weeks in the 21-year-history of the company.

First came hundreds of pounds of sand dumped as protection around the retailer’s Long Island City, NY, offices. Then employees moved computers in anticipation of flooding, followed by extra wireless hotspots and remotely stored software to help the company keep operating as the storm spun its way along the northeastern coast, says Corey Ilan Frons, BulbAmerica’s chief marketing officer.

But that was nothing compared to the hurricane-related e-mail marketing campaign that has led to a spike a transactions for the bulb and lighting gear retailer over the past few days.

The first e-mail went out Friday to the retailer’s list of some 73,000 consumers. Underneath the BulbAmerica logo and its customer service number the e-mail message displayed the headline “Hurricane Irene Big Sale” hanging above blue water with fang-like waves. The retailer invited consumers to save 10% on purchases—the 10 was designed to look like a weather-map representation of a hurricane—plus a free shipping offer and a promo code, along with the e-commerce site address.

On Monday followed a second e-mail marketing message, this one labeled the “After Hurricane Sale,” with a call to consumers to replace their damaged bulbs at 10% off and with free shipping; BulbAmerica also offers same-day shipping for an extra $6 to $7, Frons says. The design on this message involved yellow tape similar to the kind police string around crime scenes or disaster sites. 

BulbAmerica usually processes between 75 and 125 transactions per day, Frons says. Between Friday and Monday, transactions increased 46%, he says. “Yesterday was probably the highest number of transactions for us ever,” he says. “People were scared they would lose lighting and bulbs, so they spent.”

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