October 4, 2012, 10:56 AM

Shar Music harmonizes reorders with e-mail marketing

Reminders help musicians keep their instruments in tune and spur sales.

Lead Photo

SharMusic.com, an e-retailer of stringed musical instruments and related supplies, this spring began experimenting with its customer e-mail database. In doing so, it found a formula that spurred repeat orders of top-selling strings, generating 53 cents in sales for every e-mail sent.

The retailer recommends that musicians replace the strings on their instruments every six months. That’s why Shar Music in April manually segmented its 150,000-person customer database to see who had, six to 12 months earlier, bought the retailer’s top-selling strings. It then designed an e-mail template that would encourage those musicians to reorder, says Rachel Krueger, director of e-commerce.

The first e-mail blast included a subject line attuned to customers’ previously purchased brand of strings, such as “Is it time to reorder your Vision strings?” The body of the e-mail included product details from their previous purchase. 27% of recipients opened the e-mail, and 9% clicked through to SharMusic.com. 26% of the customers’ who clicked through then bought a new set of strings, resulting in a per-message sales return of 53 cents.

Happy with those results, Krueger created a template that incorporated more fields she could personalize and also set rules within e-mail marketing provider Bronto Software Inc.'s program that automated message creation and distribution. The new template included fields that feature the customer’s name, product name and instrument type. That added dose of personalization helped raise average open rates to 40% and click-through rates to 12%. The e-mails go out automatically six months after the consumer’s last string purchase.

“We knew through past tests of e-mails that our customers respond to something very targeted to their purchase history,” Krueger says. “When a message is specific about the products they order, they are more likely to be engaged in the e-mail regardless of whether there’s a sale promoted.”

Krueger is now looking at how she can create other personalized and timed campaigns to help drive sales. For example, she’s looking at SharMusic.com’s sales of violins for children, noting that young musicians usually grow out of a particular size of violin every 12 to 18 months and need to get the next size up.

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