August 31, 2011, 3:32 PM

Tailoring its e-mails boosts a luxury retailer’s open rates

The site’s first targeted campaign also resulted in a 14.7% conversion rate.

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As a seller of premium products, manufacturer and retailer WWRD Holdings Limited typically tries to avoid enticing consumers with discounts, coupons or other special offers on its luxury entertaining, home decorating, and fine gift merchandise, says Joe Schmidt, the company’s director of e-commerce, Americas. That can make it difficult to entice shoppers to open up its e-mails—unless you find another way to draw them in, he says.

That’s where e-marketing vendor Listrak fits in. WWRD, which operates sites for its three brands—Waterford, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton—launched its first campaign using segmentation and targeting last month with a series of Christmas in July e-mails featuring products that will be widely available in stores this holiday season, but for now are only available through WWRD web sites. The retailer sent targeted messages that, for instance, featured a new ornament for this holiday season to customers who have purchased ornaments in the past.

“We have our Christmas inventory in our warehouse right now to ship to consumers,” says Schmidt. “Our wholesale partners either don’t have it ordered yet or it won’t ship until the end of August. That gives us a chance to appeal to our loyalists, be it with a limited assortment, to leverage the chance to be the first to own a particular piece.” The campaign produced a sales conversion rate of 14.7%.

Even though WWRD generally avoids selling on low price, it does occasionally offer deals on excess inventory that failed to sell. The company had a couple of those items from its assortment of  12 Days of Christmas ornaments, and decided to launch another targeted e-mail campaign to clear its warehouse shelves.

WWRD sent a message to customers who had purchased ornaments from the 12 Days collection. The campaign had an open rate of 42.8%, far above its typical range of 9% to 18%. And its sales conversion rate was 16.2%.

“In my company it’s important to be relevant,” says Schmidt. “If you can find a concrete way to appeal to consumers in an e-mail you’re far more likely to make a sale.”

Going forward Schmidt aims to use the same type of segmentation to send e-mails focused on a particular china pattern, for instance. “If that pattern is mentioned in the e-mail, the consumer is far more likely to open it,” he says. “That’s the power of segmentation.”

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