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Traditional print catalog seller goes digital

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Successories.com is a manufacturer and marketer of specialty products in the motivation and inspiration field. Perhaps its best-known products are those evocative posters, combined with inspirational sayings, that are ubiquitous in many offices. But while a leader in its niche, the company's marketing outreach matched its ink-on-paper heritage—it communicated to human resources and productivity managers within education, health and business strictly through catalogs, with no use of online commerce or digital marketing. “For 25 years, we were in the forefront of our industry; but the brand got a little behind the times,” said Eric Archuleta, CMO of the company since April 2009. Last year, things changed in a big way for Successories. It was acquired by investment group TWS Partnerships, moved from Aurora, Ill., to Boca Raton, Fla., and combined with two other e-commerce businesses, Trophy.com and Awards.com. Further, the company partnered with Design Your Recognition, which specializes in custom awards based on customers' own uploaded images and sayings, as part of an ongoing shift to award customization. Archuleta worked to digitalize Successories' marketing efforts. The company put its catalog online and launched a blog on motivation. Archuleta began a social initiative with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, posting inspirational sayings every morning. And the company published dozens of motivational videos, including animations of its famous posters, on YouTube. To fully exploit the move to digital marketing, Archuleta began honing Successories' database of former customers to begin communicating through e-mail about the company's revised offerings. What he found in his in-house list was plenty of names and addresses, but few if any e-mail addresses for promotional campaigns or transaction confirmations. “Before it was all catalogs, no e-mail marketing,” Archuleta said. He concluded that an e-mail append of his in-house listing was necessary. “Eric's b-to-b file simply hadn't been monetized,” said Suzanne Shaughnessy, senior account executive with e-mail appending company FreshAddress Inc., Newton, Mass., which helped Successories update its files. To help assure not only a successful e-mail append but also subsequent opt-in acceptance, Shaughnessy worked with Archuleta to make sure the company had been in touch fairly recently with list contacts. “E-mail differs from direct mail in that the recipient is really in the driver's seat,” Shaughnessy said. “If people forget they've done business with you, they might make a spam complaint.” To help assure e-mail acceptance, FreshAddress sent newly identified e-mail recipients its own message, asking if Successories could continue to communicate via e-mail. “What we suggest is that businesses then send their own very creative and enticing marketing messages, to encourage the recipients to opt in completely,” Shaughnessy said. Not every contact name within Successories' in-house file was successfully matched with an e-mail, but that was not unanticipated. “I was expecting only a 10% match of e-mails to names, and we got more than 25%—25,000 e-mails matched to our list of 100,000, which was great,” Archuleta said. Archuleta's initial campaign focused on customer reactivation. He worked to segment his list into such categories as motivational versus recognition buyers, and developed customized e-mail for each. Some recipients were cross-marketed, and all prospects were introduced to the new Design Your Recognition offering. Archuleta has been happy with his marketing efforts so far. His new e-mail campaigns have produced a conversion rate four times higher than expected, rising from 1% to 4%. Also, the company enjoyed an average order value 50% higher than it had with its nonoptimized in-house list. M
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