June 2, 2011, 10:30 AM

Birkenstock Central gets a revenue kick from e-mail

E-mail marketing is driving 25% of sales, the web-only footwear retailer says.

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With a new e-mail marketing strategy launched earlier this year, web-only footwear retailer Birkenstock Central is finding that shoppers who arrive at the site via e-mail are 22% more likely to buy than other visitors, says Jim Moore, president of The PSNE Group, the retailer’s parent company.

E-mail marketing is also producing an average order value that’s 8% higher than the site’s average, and it’s generating about 25% of the site’s overall revenue, Moore says.

BirkenstockCentral.com, PSNE Group’s initial and flagship e-commerce site, which sells mostly Birkenstock footwear, is going through a rebuilding effort that began last year with a migration to a new e-commerce platform from technology vendor Whirlwind Ecommerce. Once the new platform went live in January, one of the e-retailer’s first marketing initiatives was to deploy a new e-mail marketing system from Listrak. That e-mail technology replaced an in-house system that was difficult to manage and produced poor e-mail deliverability rates, Moore says.

With the combination of Listrak and the new e-commerce platform, he adds, BirkenstockCentral.com can more efficiently and effectively manage e-mail marketing campaigns. For example, the retailer has been able to integrate its in-house inventory management system and its new e-commerce platform with the Listrak e-mail system to automate e-mail offers to customers who signed up to be notified when out-of-stock merchandise is back in stock. Such integration, Moore says, would have been too costly and time-consuming with his former e-commerce platform.

These “Back in Stock” e-mails have produced an average clickthrough rate of 20.73% and a sales conversion rate of 22.73%, Moore says.

In addition to the back-in-stock e-mails, the e-retailer also sends two other types of targeted e-mails based on customer activity—a welcome series of e-mails sent to site visitors who have signed up to receive e-mail from BirkenstockCentral, and e-mails sent to shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts. All together, these three behavior-based e-mail campaigns have accounted for about 23% of the retailer’s revenue from e-mail, even though they represented only about 1% of the  marketing e-mails the retailer has sent, Moore says. In the welcome e-mails, the retailer sends promotional offers immediately after a shopper signs up to receive e-mail. New e-mail subscribers who have not yet purchased on BirkenstockCentral.com receive a special offer for free socks with an order of $50 or more; the offer is repeated twice more at two-day intervals. The average clickthrough rate for all welcome e-mails is 39.72%, and the average sales conversion rate is 17.70%.

When a shopper places item into a shopping cart but does not purchase, the retailer sends an initial e-mail three hours after the cart is abandoned, saying “Thanks for stopping by, your items are waiting for you.” If the shopper doesn’t respond, the retailer sends a second message three days later; if necessary, it sends a third message after another three days with an offer of a 5% discount on the items in the abandoned cart.  The average sales conversion rate for the first message is 15.65%, the second message 13.58% and the third 11.76 %.

With a strong double-digit conversion rate on the third message, Moore says he’s considering extending the series to four or five messages. “We may still get close to a 10% conversion rate,” he says.

Moore adds that the success of his cart abandonment e-mails, which produce an overall average clickthrough rate of over 37%, has also convinced him to consider using a display ad retargeting service. When shoppers visit a web site and view products without making a purchase, a retargeting system will present them with related display ads on subsequent sites they visit.

“If we’re doing this great with a 37% e-mail clickthrough rate, I only need half of that rate to make a retargeting campaign worthwhile,” Moore says.

PSNE Group also operates three other retail footwear sites: GroundedSoles.com, ChefShoes.com and MedicalShoes.com.

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