JustUno and ActiveCampaign’s Panties.com case study

Problem

Going into 2014, Panties.com CEO, Lila Williams, decided that social media marketing would become a major strategy moving forward to grow revenue, and that in particular, she wanted to focus on growing her email subscribers. Their natural fan acquisition rate hovered around 30 emails a month, or, about 1 new email subscriber a day. Our initial analysis showed that, despite tools such as “Follow us on Facebook” or “Submit your email for weekly deals”, the Fan Acquisition Rate (FAR) was lower than desired. A new, faster acquisition would be required to hit Panties.com’s lofty 2014 goals.

Decision

The Panties.com CEO decided that faster social fan base growth would help Panties.com hit their 2014 revenue goals. Ms. Williams decided to work with two providers: one social engagement platform, and one email marketing automation provider (Justuno and Active Campaign, respectively). Panties.com aimed to grow its social audience, while also reducing shopping cart abandonment rates, using Justuno Social Incentives on her website (www.Panties.com). After the email address was acquired, Active Campaign would be used to drip a series of two emails once the email address was obtained. These emails were focused on customer engagement and obtaining more information about the individual contacts. The case study was run over the 30-day period of November 27th – December 27th, 2013.

The three parties drafted up a plan of action: Justuno would provide the social incentives “hook” on the homepage, and active Campaign would manage the email campaign after the email was captured by the Justuno Social Marketing Widget. Panties.com would retain the creative portion of this effort, and came up with a clever Holiday campaign: “PantyClaus has a list, and he’s checking it twice. Have you been naughty or nice?”

Results

As you notice form the graph above, there was as a dramatic spike in volume of new subscribers during the time period involving the case study. During the previous month, which is our comparison time frame, there were 30 new subscribers for an average of .97 subscribers per day. While during the time of the case study (same length as previous months measurement), there were 285 new contacts who signed up which is a 843.33% increase over the previous month. Additionally (not seen in graph), customers who had previously been on other lists were able to re-engage and sign up for the JustUno special discount. The JustUno widget netted 196 contacts who were already in the panties.com data base, providing opportunity for rengagement. In total, 481 contacts signed up to join the new mailing list; an increase of 1483% over the previous month. Again, this includes contacts who have already been other other mailing lists, but it was a viable sales opportunity with both new and existing contacts.

With all of the data being gathered, the high number of new subscribers would be an exceptional month of sign ups for any email marketer, and there are a couple of macro reasons which can be associated with this. The case study was launched just before Black Friday and ran through Christmas, and the Christmas season is obviously a great time to run specials. It should be noted that the highest day of the month for subscriptions was Cyber Monday. Typically the results from JustUno’s sign up widget are expected to be about a 300%-400% increase over the previous results seen through a generic subscription form. With that being said, panties.com has continued to use JustUno and within four weeks they are right on track to be within the 500% range greater than the month prior to the case study.

As a bit of a side note, we saw tremendous results with the automated series ActiveCampaign designed as follow ups to the case study. Our first email went out immediately after subscription with a call to action of requesting more information beyond a simple email address. This campaign had a 65.30% open rate and a 28.13% interaction rate with our call to action. Once the call to action was acted upon, a second email was sent with a reminder of the discount code, and several links back to the panities.com website.

This campaign had an 87.76% open rate. Not only was the overall list building efforts a success, the follow ups were as well.

Summary

ActiveCampaign continuously strives to build the best platform possible. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to partner with companies like JustUno who have a specific area of focus which complements the ActiveCampaign platform. In the short time of a month, an ActiveCampaign customer was able to successfully increase the size of their contact list at a dramatically higher rate than previously possible through the implementations of our JustUno integration which was the entire goal of this case study. The rapid rate of list growth through a the JustUno subscription form far exceeded the initial expectations had and proved to be an incredibly strong indication of what can be accomplished when a powerful 3rd party platform is properly integrated in ActiveCampaign.

 

Canaflora

Tell me about Canaflora. How long have you been in business, what do you do, what is the drive behind the business

Canaflora is a gift delivery company, sending flowers and gift baskets across Canada. We’ve been in business for four years and have grown exponentially from when we first started. Our philosophy is delivering good product at an affordable price and with strong service.

Since our inception, we believed that our customers shouldn’t pay hidden fees like many other similar companies charge. From the get-go, we’ve offered free delivery and a pay-what-you see pricing model. If we say $49.99 (+ tax), they pay $49.99 (+tax). No ifs, ands, or buts.

We adjusted our business model, cutting out as many middlemen as possible to make sure our prices stay fair and competitive. We have also opted out of an expensive downtown location for the same reason.

What made you feel email marketing was important to your marketing strategy

The more the customers come back to us, the more lifetime value they hold to our company. Our retention rate is a very important part of our business and what better way to reach our database than with email marketing?

Since you work with vendors all over Canada, what are things you do as apart of your business model to ensure you keep customer loyalty strong and also quality high.

At this point, we’ve realized we don’t do enough.

When just starting the business, we believed that if we provide awesome product and service, our customers would come back. Most didn’t. Everyone expects a positive experience and that didn’t make our business stand out.

Currently we’re introducing measures to make our product unique and easy to remember. We’re also diversifying our marketing activity to make sure the specials, advertisements, and other content our customers see are as personalized as we can make them.

What tools do you use besides email to help grow Canaflora?

SEO and PPC. We are also experimenting with direct sales at this point — B2B is a rapidly growing segment for us. We are currently trying out white label websites and Facebook ads too.

I see on your site that you also offer products internationally. What has it been like setting up your network outside of Canada? Do you have any marketing, networking, or sales tips for web companies starting the international process.

The International section on our web site is just drop shipping. We just resell services of another company which operates a worldwide network of florists.

We do have multiple international partners for whom we do drop shipping in Canada and this is a growing segment of our business. Initially we got them all just by emailing them or chatting through a social network about the business.

I know you use segmentation. Can you explain about the uses of segmentation and why it is important. Also, how have you seen segmentation improve the email marketing for you?

Its all started with poor performance of our regular emails. We started to research and brainstorm about how we can slice our database to drive more personalized offers and improve conversions of our emails.

At this point we segment our database by:

  • Purchase history (new customers, active customers, dead list)
  • Occasions – As our product is occasion-driven, we track what the occasions it was purchased for and then set up the appropriate reminder campaign
  • Geographic – we drive personalized promotions based on the area where the customers live or where their order was delivered before
  • Email activity – we track the way users handle our emails and add them to appropriate segment as a result. For example, users who never open our emails are segmented and then aggressively targeted with Facebook ads or direct marketing

Because customer’s habits depend so much on factors in their life, segmentation has helped us with either offering the appropriate products or improve our timing (for example, we know they’re more likely to order flowers if someone’s birthday is coming up). Doing what’s more comfortable for our customers rather than bombarding them with email specials they may or may not care about definitely helps improve our conversions.

For any marketers who are new to segmentation, what helpful tips can you give them?

  • First of all put together a list of how you can segment your database – Gender, Age, Purchase History, Geographic, Email activity, Social media activity, Email provider, etc.
  • Then prioritise the segments based on what makes the most sense for your business and start sending emails. Wait for results. The point is that your segmented emails should perform better than broad emails.
  • Based on our experience, segmentation is a never-ending process, so you can keep going with more and more personalization. Remember to watch your results and make sure it makes sense in terms of time and money spent, but if you have an idea — even if you think it may not be the best idea — it may pay off to run a test, just in case.

Are there any other features in the ActiveCampaign platform you find really useful for your business?

The biggest advantage of ActiveCampaign for us is that we can fully automate our email marketing activity. We are heavy users of ActiveCampaign API and Webhooks, which are integrated with our CRM. Based on that our segmentation process is 90% automated.

Basically with the help of ActiveCampaign technology and our own efforts, in one month we built a marketing automation software which would usually cost from $3,000 per month if you use an existing provider.

Aria Agency – Putting the “A” in in mArketing!

What is Aria and what types of customers do you work with?

Formally, Aria is an award-winning, independent, full-service agency with more than a decade of experience in destination, real estate and economic development marketing. Based in Dallas, our team of 14 work in disciplines including branding, interactive technologies, marketing, video and publicity.

Informally, we’re just creative, fun people, who love to design things people want to use, create brand memories and push the limits of promotion.

How long has Aria been an Advocate of email marketing?

We’ve used email marketing from the day Aria opened its doors in 2000.  Email marketing is an integral piece of most of our marketing campaigns. Not only for clients but also for ourselves. Email is still a very effective way to communicate with your target audiences.

We’re constantly refining our approach to message, format, audience segmentation, and a dozen other details of email campaigns to find the most effective treatment for our clients and their constituents.

While I was checking out your site, I noticed you use lots of really stellar imagery. How important are quality images in today’s digital marketing world? Particularly in the small business environment?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? And even that is probably an understatement for today’s fast-paced, me-first consumer environment.  People are busy, and it’s difficult to get them to slow down long enough to give you their attention and get your marketing message across. A well-crafted, beautifully designed piece can not only grab attention, but also leave a lasting impression with consumers, in a split second.

So, to answer your question in a word. Incredibly!

As you have worked with your customers, what are a few things you have found to be successful in designing emails?

Start with a simple design, and then simplify some more.  Keep it clean and ensure you’re encapsulating ideas in easy, bite-sized chunks to make it that much easier for your audience to digest. That’s what really ensures you get your message across. Also, we always keep in mind tech limitations with file download size and red flags for spam filters.

Since you focus a lot on brand development, could you give 3-4 tips and essentials when focusing marketing efforts on brand promotion?

Brand marketing is a pretty straightforward concept. It’s simply putting a comprehensive strategy around marketing with a consistent focus on imparting the brand components. It’s played out across the tactics you use to reach your audience.

It’s the execution of those strategies and tactics where businesses and brand managers often screw up.

A couple of tests you can use to avoid any misdirection in your own marketing efforts are:

  1. 1. Brand style guidelines are your measuring stick. The first thing you should always do is make 100% sure that each marketing component and promotional piece adheres to your brand guidelines. If the brand messages you’re sending out through social media, your website and your email campaigns are so vastly different that you don’t get a strong sense of brand cohesion when you look at all of those elements comprehensively, you need to reassess how you’re presenting your brand.
  2. Seek out, and listen to feedback from your consumers. Chances are you view your brand in a very defined way. And, a lot of times we find clients are surprised to find the public perception of their brand is completely different. And that’s what matters. Your brand is really how people describe you when you’re not in the room. Find out what the world thinks of your brand, and then tailor marketing efforts to change their way of thinking if you need to. What does Don Draper always say? “If you don’t like the conversation, change it.” It’s true.
  3. Quality over quantity. Remember your brand integrity and reputation is paramount. One awesome content marketing piece in support of your brand is better than 10 mediocre productions any day.

I see in your “Beliefs” section you state, “Traditional advertising alone yields unacceptably low returns compared to cost” – Can you explain what you mean by this and what is considered “non-traditional”?

By traditional, we mean print and broadcast. It’s the age-old tactic of blasting a message over and over again until it’s part of people’s nature. That really doesn’t work today where people are so inundated (every second of every day) by advertising, that it becomes background noise. It’s just part of the atmosphere — you start to tune out the neon of Las Vegas when you’ve been on the strip for a few hours.

Our aim with any client project (and our own) is to find the most efficient way to make our message as personal as possible. It’s really the only way to ensure you’re going to get the attention of your audience. If you can make it seem like you’re reading their mind, they’ll at least give you a few seconds to make your point.

We see social media, behaviorally-customized web experiences, and opt-in media (like email) as big players in this new marketing approach.

How can small businesses use email marketing to create an “experience” with their contacts, hopefully to build a lasting relationship?

Personalize, personalize, personalize. Use segmentation and personalization features to create content that your prospect wants and finds valuable. If you can add value through your marketing, things that enrich their lives in some way: it could be learning, it could be funny, it could be special offers, it could be advance notice, it could be tips, tricks and secrets… any way you can, make it about me, the recipient, and make it about what I’ve told you I want.

How important is it to make marketing, branding, etc personal in todays digital world? Can you share an example of how being personal helped a customer succeed?

See our previous response for how important we believe it is.

We recently undertook (and will be publishing results in our own case study soon) an interactive game for a client. It’s entire focus is on personalization. We’re using behavioral decisions (did they go to a museum or a concert, did they like a baseball player or a politician, etc.,) to create profiles of each individual. We’re using social media, text messaging, email marketing, and physical game components to personalize — down to the smallest degree possible — our messaging from here on out. And each decision from here on out only makes our personalization that much more specific and finite.

We’re really early in the stages of this new game, but we’re hoping for crazy engagement metrics compared to the one-size-fits-all approach of old.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

If you would like to get your company featured in ActiveCampaign’s “Marketer’s Spotlight”, please
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Making Online Shopping Personal


“Give the lady what she wants.”

That’s the mantra that made Marshall Field famous.

For years, customers associated this high level of personalized shopping with iconic brick and mortar stores such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales. Today, customers are beginning to find the same customized shopping experience at their favorite online stores as well.

The growth of online mega retailers, which offer an enormous range of inventory to a diverse consumer base, further increases the need for stores to personalize the online shopping experience.

A better shopping experience helps support a retailer’s ultimate goal: to maximize a customer’s lifetime value. Now we have the data-driven tools to do this with personalized product recommendations, shopping cart abandonment, and targeted emails.

Personalized Product Recommendations 

Amazon was one of the first stores to offer customers product recommendations based on past purchase history. Historically, these recommendations led to over 30 percent of the company’s revenue.

More recently, Amazon announced a partnership with Facebook in which users can link their accounts to receive even more personalized recommendations based on their interests and activity. Users can easily create and send their own gift wish lists to family and friends.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Complex algorithms can be used to predict which items consumers are most likely to purchase, but most retailers often overlook an easier solution: look at what users put in their carts.

It’s not just a customer’s purchase history that’s important, but the history of what they didn’t purchase. You can learn a lot from that, especially those things they almost bought.

How?

Remind the user of the abandoned items, and potentially sweeten the deal.  The subscriber obviously has an eye on this item, why let a fish off the hook when the bait has clearly been set?

Target the subscriber with a service-based message as soon as an abandoned shopping cart is detected. The service-based message should consist of a recommendation of a substitute product or, even better, bundle a new offer with the item from the abandoned shopping cart. For abandoned cart recommendations to be most useful, timeliness is essential.

Personalized Emails

Finally, and this is where many retailers make fatal errors, you have to personalize email recommendations. As an alternative to weekly newsletters to highlight products, instead try to target specific consumers with a particular product, brand or category. In addition, avoid the trap of selling to your subscriber outside of what your data tells you; focus on what the consumer has shown a history of wanting. If an email recipient has shown a strong affinity towards certain brands or price levels; refine the recommendations around these data attributes. A recommendation email that lacks a personal connection will also lack a conversion to a sale.

Looking Ahead

With studies suggesting that online sales are increasing at a rate roughly 10 times that of brick and mortar stores, it’s critical that online retailers stay ahead of the curve. Retailers should be able to meet a consumer’s changing demands – from short-lived fads to changes that come from a consumer’s lifecycle changes.

Changes in demands and life cycles can be deduced from past purchase history and pairing customer information (such as name and email) with 3rd party research firms.  In the future, retailers should be proactive in reaching out to current and potential customers.

Luckily, with widely available tools for online retailers, “giving the lady what she wants” is possible for online retailers large and small.

The SimpleRelevance Solution

SimpleRelevance has the tools that can optimize abandoned shopping carts and convert them into sales. SimpleRelevance employs a three-prong approach which includes branded email templates that have been automatically customized with the company’s logo; automatic creation and delivery of personalized emails sent to each consumer at the optimal time of the day; and optimized messaging that sends the right email at the precisely right time. The personalization technology tool optimizes your email’s subject line, content, and delivery time.

About the Author

Erik Severinghaus is the founder and CEO of SimpleRelevance, a Chicago-based company leading the way on developing next generation tools to help companies personalize digital communication. Prior to that he received a patent while in IBM’s IT Optimization organization, and helped co-found iContact—a leading Email Service Provider. Follow him on Twitter.

Sources:

1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaarthur/2013/03/12/which-is-better-for-retail-sales-online-or-offline-customer-engagement/

2. http://cmsoforum.mckinsey.com/article/the-future-of-brick-mortar-retail-in-the-digital-era

3. http://bronto.com/blog/email-marketing-strategy/segment-one-how-email-personalization-drives-revenue-recommendations-shopping-cart-abandonment

4. http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/02/03/increase-email-marketing-conversion-rates/

Introducing the ActiveCampaign Experts Corner

Experts Corner

At ActiveCampaign we take service and support very seriously. All of our hosted accounts come with free phone, email, and chat support, in addition to webinars and one on ones.

Additionally, we love developers. We actively maintain and improve our API and Zapier integrations to make working with our platform a breeze.

That said, sometimes you or your business might need someone who can go beyond even what we can do for you. Maybe you’re not a programmer but you want ActiveCampaign to tie into your company’s systems, maybe you need custom templates in mind, or maybe you want someone to help you choose a server system for our On-Site edition. With these things in mind we’re going to make it easier than ever to connect you to folks who can help do all these things and more.

Today we’ve rolled out our Experts Corner. Here you can find listings of companies that we recommend to help you with the things we cannot. We’ve hand picked a few to start off with but we’ll be adding more as time goes on. If you’re an ActiveCampaign expert and would like to be included let us know.

Cheers!

Knowing Your Customers Leads to Marketing Success

This is a guest post from Bradford Shimp, a writer at Batchbook.

Small businesses have a unique advantage in that they often know their customers really well. This knowledge comes in handy when having personal interactions with customers, and it can lead to greater loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, all that knowledge often goes to waste when it comes to something like email marketing. Because of its low cost and ease of use, as well as its potential for high impact, email marketing is a smart choice for any type of small business. However, when you are sending out just one generic email to everyone, you may be missing opportunities to connect with people more personally and drive in even more business.

This happens because knowledge about customers is often kept in people’s heads. And even when important details are recorded, they aren’t always used effectively in marketing efforts. Social CRM can change all that by providing one place your whole team can record customer interactions and key bits of information. This customer data can then be used to get more personal with marketing efforts.

You should absolutely be tapping your customer database for information that can help you personalize your email messages and to build relevant segments of people to send specific messages to. Batchbook is a social CRM that helps you keep track of all of the important details about your customers. With Custom Field Sets, you can record what you know about them; things like their buying preferences, how many kids they have, or how often they make a purchase.

Once you start recording what you know about your customers, you can start to search for groups of people who share similar information. A quick advanced search in Batchbook could give you everyone who made a purchase in the last six months. Those contacts can then be tagged and imported into a specific ActiveCampaign list via the Batchbook integration.

You can then use the tools in ActiveCampaign to further refine your email list. When you send your next email campaign, you can target it to just one group of people and speak to them on their own terms. This more personal approach will pay off in higher engagement and more sales.

In such an high tech world, it is sometimes easy to forget the power of the personal touch. But knowing your customers is one of your biggest assets as a small business. Software like Batchbook and ActiveCampaign can help you record and use all of your collected information to help you serve your customers in a more personal way.


Batchbook is a social CRM for small business. Bradford Shimp is a writer at Batchbook.

Free Friday: Free Email Templates

We fully understand the frustration of trying to design and code your email layout without it breaking all over the place when viewed in your inbox. Your email design is important to your company branding and you’ve worked really hard today – why add more stress? This Friday, we’re going to help you out and lessen your headaches. We’re giving you free email templates.

Because we love each and every one of you, you’re more than welcome to use these email templates any way you see fit. If you’re a customer of ActiveCampaign, we’ve even added some personalized tags and conveniently included an XML file for import. If you’re the creative type and you’re not scared to get your hands dirty, these two email templates comes with a PSD Photoshop file. Don’t like the colors or the shape of a button? No problem, you’re free to change it.

We hope you find these email templates useful as it has been fun for us creating them for you. Happy Friday!

Word of Mouth Spreads

You’re much more likely to buy a product or a service that you hear about from a trusted source such as a friend.  Your friend has no reason to lie. When a product or service is offered to a customer it’s only natural for someone to consider the source before taking the plunge. The more positive experiences that a customer hears from their peers the more likely they are going to be swayed toward a similar course of action.  Face it.  There’s no sales pitch that’s so great that it hasn’t been heard before in some form or another.  After all we live in the information age. People are inundated by messages coming from every direction.  Audiences have gotten a lot smarter and a whole lot less trusting of messages that come directly from the marketer. Word of Mouth Marketing is an umbrella term for a number of marketing approaches such as buzz, viral marketing, influencer marketing, blogging, loyalty programs, and leveraging social media.  They all rely on word of mouth to some extent and they take advantage of existing networks to facilitate exponential growth.

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Changing Good to Best, Bad to Good

It’s not reasonable to expect that you will profit off of all or even most of your subscribers.   What you can expect is that a few of your subscribers will pick up for the majority of your list members.  We call them your best customers and you must value them as a precious commodity if you expect to make a living or turn a profit out of your line of work.  When you begin to lose any of your best customers you will know it because it will impact your bottom line.  The majority of your customers are good customers and this is equally true of your subscriber list.  However, you’re never going to be profitable relying on good customers alone.  You can expect to be marginally profitable off of good customers at best.  A hard truth you will have to live with in whatever you do is you will have bad customers no matter how right you run things.  If you have spent any considerable amount of time doing customer service the notion of a bad customer does not sit right.  But there have been times where you approach a situation using logic and reason.  You provide answers or explanations that are helpful or point in the right direction.  You spend considerable time and energy focusing your attention on a person and their concerns.  You give everything you have and no matter what you do you know it won’t matter.  That’s what’s meant by bad customer.

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You’re not doing all of this on a single monitor, are you?

Recently I came into the office to find that one of my two workstation monitors was getting no juice–it was completely blank. I’m pretty sure an automatic Windows update blew out the driver for my dual-monitor controller. After a restart, Windows told me it couldn’t find any driver for the video controller, and wasn’t able to find any compatible controllers online either. Tragedy.

It had been a very long time since I had done this job with only one monitor, and it was fairly amazing how difficult it was to go back to it. As you can see in my screenshot below, there are quite a few types of web software I need to have at close reach while I’m working, and there’s no way to deal with them all on a single monitor without constantly switching between windows to see what’s going on.

My desktop

Which got me thinking: you guys aren’t doing all your work on just a single monitor, are you? The difference in productivity between a single and dual-monitor setup is definitely significant for anyone who is consistently working with a number of different tools. But I think there’s also a health issue here: I felt much more stressed out working that way. I felt cramped up and twitchy. By the time I left, I was a little burned out. And it was much tougher for me to unwind than is usual, even after a long day.

Working with computers all day can be much more stressful than a lot of folks would imagine. And it’s usually not an all-out assault of stress that you could point to as something that was definitely doing you harm. Rather, it’s a slow and steady trickle of stress that comes from paying attention to lots of little things for prolonged periods of time. Most of us are already only too aware that chronic stress can ruin your health, so you should take every possible precaution to ensure that your workday is as relaxed and pleasant as possible.

One of the very simplest things you can do to reduce your stress level is to reduce visual clutter. Allow yourself a little room to move around in, and you’ll find you feel less… imposed upon. This most definitely applies to what you see on your screen(s). I usually even go so far as to keep all of my windows just a little smaller than they could be so that I can see the space behind and between then more clearly. This establishes a sense of depth and expansiveness on your desktop, which not only gives you the visual impression of having more space for yourself, it also makes it easier to feel like each piece of work is a solid and graspable object, not a vast expanse of overwhelming workload.

So if you’re not already using at least two monitors, and organizing your workspace in such a way as to create a sense of natural simplicity and calm, then why not take a break from whatever you’re doing and get it set up right now? Not only will the increase in productivity easily earn back whatever time and money you spent on the setup, you’ll probably also notice an increased sense of well-being and improved overall health.