June 17, 2010, 3:28 PM

Jazz Fest poster retailer hits the right note with its e-mail marketing program

Art4Now.com, a New Orleans-based poster retailer has experienced a 20% increase in click-through rates.

Art4Now.com, a New Orleans-based retailer that sells limited edition posters and Louisiana-themed apparel, has experienced a 30% increase in open rates and a 20% increase in click-through rates since updating its e-mail marketing campaign earlier this year.

The 35-year-old business sells posters for the city’s annual Jazz & Heritage Festival and other events, along with shirts, dresses, skirts and aprons under the BayouWear label. Collectors, including those from outside the United States, often order and pay for the posters prior to the event and then receive the items after the festival is over.

Art4Now keeps its customers informed about shipping schedules, product releases and promotions through e-mail blasts that can reach 20,000 consumers. The retailer can better track who receives and reads its e-mails. “Under the old system, we would basically send an e-mail blast and cross our fingers that someone would read it,” says Julie Stewart, the company’s assistant operations manager.

The old e-mail marketing system ran on software the company purchased for about $300. Prior to this year’s Jazz Fest, which ran from late April until early May, Art4Now found its ability to send group e-mails limited because of problems with the company’s new web hosting service. Stewart said the company scrambled and found new web-based e-mail technology from StreamSend Inc. The service will be more expensive in the long run—according to StreamSend’s listed prices, sending 20,000 e-mails  costs $59.99 per month—but, so far, the company views the investment as justified.

That’s not only because the open and click-through rates have increased, Stewart says. The new e-mail system enables Art4Now to include in its messages more colors and images, headers and better fonts, she says. Art4Now also was able to parse from its mailing list some 5,000 e-mail recipients with invalid addresses. And now that Jazz Fest has ended and Art4Now has entered its slow period, Stewart expects to use the new e-mail system to dig into the details of where its traffic is coming from.

Additionally, Stewart says her company also might mail more promotional offers through the new system, in addition to the Christmas promotion it sent out last year. “Now we are talking about promotions we can do throughout the year,” she says. “We need something to keep ourselves visible in the minds of customers.”

Art4Now receives about 64% of its sales through the web, with 36% coming from sales at Jazz Fest, Stewart adds.


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