May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Personalized e-mails drive up sales at King Arthur Flour

Sending personalized e-mails to customers based on their past purchase behavior cooks up higher sales at online retailer King Arthur Flour.

An e-mail campaign that sent customized e-mails to consumers based on their past purchasing behavior helped cook up higher sales at online retailer King Arthur Flour, says e-commerce director Halley Silver.

King Arthur identified one segment of customers who tend to bake from scratch, as indicated by their history of buying yeast, flour and other ingredients; and another customer segment with a history of buying mixes for muffins, cookies and other baked goods. The promotional e-mail offered free shipping to both groups, but the the two segments were shown different creative content.

The e-mail to the ingredient buyers featured a photo of a freshly-baked loaf of cheese bread, while the others saw scones prepared from a King Arthur mix. Over the next several months following the promotion, sales from the ingredient buyer segment increased 35%, and average order value for that segment rose 8%, Silver says.

In addition to experimenting with targeting e-mails by customer behavior, Silver says King Arthur also segments e-mails based on how recently and how frequently customers have ordered, and how much they’ve purchased. “Our spend on e-mail marketing is about the same. We’ve actually increased our frequency, but we’re trying to be smarter about our segmentation,” Silver says.

Silver is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 15-18 in Boston, in a session entitled Creating outstanding design on a budget.

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