October 4, 2012, 11:03 AM

A British e-retailer segments its e-mail list and boosts sales

Icons worked with Emailvision to organize its database.

Lead Photo

British e-retailer Icons three years ago decided that its 8% average e-mail open rate was too low and its campaign costs were too high from sending every message to its entire e-mail list, says Dan Jamieson, managing director for the retailer, which sells autographed sports memorabilia.

The retailer’s problem stemmed from its large e-mail database that it had gathered mainly from sweepstakes and promotions. While the contests run by media partners helped Icons acquire customers’ e-mail addresses, it hadn’t collected other useful information like their favorite sports teams, he says. Without that type of information the retailer was forced to send broad-based messages to its entire database, rather than the types of team-specific messages that might spur a shopper to make a purchase, says Jamieson. “The Liverpool fan was receiving information about Manchester United signings, which is not something he’d particularly want,” he says.

That’s why the retailer discarded the free newsletter distribution engine it was using and turned to e-mail marketing company Emailvision.

Emailvision worked with Icons to cut its e-mail list down roughly 75% by removing inactive e-mail addresses from its list. It also enabled the retailer to segment the list so that Icons could send targeted, relevant messages to customers. Almost immediately Icons’ open rates jumped to 50% and its click-through rate went from less than 5% to more than 20%, Jamieson says.

In addition to paying for only a quarter as many e-mails as before, Icons found the messages it sent were more effective. After the site’s click-through and open rates rose, Icons continued to work with Emailvision to refine the list and target messages to fans of particular teams, as well as its most active customers, who proved more receptive to Icons’s messages, Jamieson says. With those adjustments sales revenue began rising too, he says, though he declined to offer specifics.

Icons continues to improve the quality of its e-mail listby removing unresponsive subscribers and requesting that customers update their preferences, he says, which helps the retailer hone its targeting even more.

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