Brooks Running

Sprinting to Success With Browse Recovery and Segmentation

All Stories

The Goal

  • Grow online revenue and brand awareness.
  • Expand segmentation and triggered message use.
  • Use past purchase data to craft effective marketing messages.

The Approach

  • Created automated reminders for shoe buyers based on how many miles they run.
  • Built segments based on popular web products.
  • Deployed Browse Recovery to increase personalization.

The Result

  • Grew email-generated revenue 60% in the past year.

Brooks Sports learned the true value of email as a marketing tool when it went to retire a running shoe.

With limits on what retailers will display, brands need to make tough choices about what to retire in order to introduce a new product. But shoe companies must tread carefully as runners can be fiercely loyal to particular products.

So the marketing team at Brooks tried something different. They segmented their email list to include just customers who had bought the running shoes in the past and alerted them about the impending retirement, figuring the loyalists could stock up. The email was so successful – a 43% open rate and a per-email return of 40 times the average for the period – the company relaunched the shoe initially as a web-only product and then re-introduced it in stores.

It was a testament to the power of email for connecting with customers in a very personal way, and even shaping merchandise decisions. Since then, the company regularly studies past-purchase data to boost email-generated revenue (it is up 60% in the past year), help grow brand awareness and improve relationships with brick-and-mortar retailers.

“We want to make our emails relevant so people are excited to see Brooks in their inbox,” says Stephanie Hileman, the ecommerce digital marketing specialist. Brooks’ email-generated revenue has increased consistently since it started using Bronto four years ago.

Messages for Every Stage of the Buying Cycle

As Hileman sees it, athletic consumers aren’t always in buying mode. They might not need a new pair of shoes, but they would like to know about the 5K a local store is sponsoring. “We like to stay top of mind, grow affinity, prompt re-purchasing and educate people about new products,” Hileman says.

These goals prompted Brooks to add Browse Recovery to its marketing arsenal. The Bronto app automatically sends an email to a subscriber who browses on a product and includes an image of the browsed item. Results: A 61% open rate, 24% click rate and 7% conversion rate with revenue of $1.44 per email.

The brand’s focus on browse recovery complements its successful marketing strategy made possible by a flexible, powerful email marketing tool. Recently, the company launched a new version of a popular shoe. Hileman segmented on past-purchase data to find customers who’d bought similar shoes in the past and introduced them to the new product that offers a similar running experience. And she was careful to plan the timing. “We suppress the segmented list for subscribers who’ve made a purchase in the past 30 days.”

Hileman has also layered in automated emails triggered by an event, such as a welcome series for new subscribers. Triggered emails like these messages represent 20% of emails but deliver close to 35% of email-generated revenue. It’s one more reason Brooks added Bronto’s Browse Recovery app. “It is another opportunity for incremental revenue growth,” Hileman says.

Automated messages are driven, in part, by an optional preference center that Brooks makes available to subscribers. It gathers the usual information, such as gender and birthday, and also asks questions about the number of miles someone runs a week. Once a person hits the 400-mile point, an automated reminder email goes out suggesting they purchase new shoes. The 400-mile email has an open rate of 38.7% with a 23.4% click through rate and a 5.8% conversion rate.

A Win for Win-Backs

“If someone hasn’t purchased in 13 months, it’s the point of no return,” Hileman says. Just before that point, she sends an automated message with a 25% off coupon and a survey about how they like to buy running shoes. If they don’t like to buy them online, the survey sends them to an online store locator. If they aren’t running anymore, the survey sends them to a content piece like Brooks’ Running Dead video that encourages people to run. The survey, powered by Bronto partner Movable Ink, has a 26.5% click rate (higher than average for editorial content emails) and a 4.8% conversion rate (much higher than average for editorial content emails).

Along with adding Browse Recovery, Hileman is retooling Brooks’ abandoned cart messaging to better tie in to its overall messaging and further exploring triggered messaging, such as a reworked weather trigger email tied to a user’s current location. The new weather trigger, also powered by Movable Ink, will include a 3-day weather forecast and point readers to shop products that correspond to the current weather condition.

Hileman feels confident in making the changes because Bronto is so easy to use. “The level of customer service is really high, especially compared to the platform I used to use. Bronto offers a lot of cool features that you can leverage easily. It’s not hard to learn, it’s intuitive, and the new reporting we’re piloting is awesome.”

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