Shar Music

Orchestrating a Successful Email Program

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The Goal

  • Improve the shopping experience.
  • Drive repeat sales.
  • Promote loyalty.

The Approach

  • Automate reorder reminders.
  • Consult with a Bronto strategist.
  • Create high-value holiday promotions.

The Result

  • Reorder emails convert at a rate of 24% and deliver 53 cents per email.
  • Holiday promotions drove $3.50 in sales for every email sent.

Replacement strings are a commodity product for music supply companies. While they don’t drive a lot of revenue, they keep musicians engaged with the brand until it’s time to make a more substantial purchase.

So it was frustrating for family-owned SHAR Music when they saw a myriad of online purveyors pop up selling, in some instances, counterfeit strings. How did they battle back? By pairing an automated refill program that reminds customers via email to replace their strings with a market price alert program to match competitor prices.

It’s one of several email campaigns that SHAR has initiated to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world for string instruments and supplies. Over the seven years SHAR has worked with Bronto, email has become the company’s main marketing tool, giving them a global reach and allowing the company to gradually phase out printed catalogs.

“Reorder emails with the price check help promote loyalty. We’re encouraging customers to buy with SHAR to get the best service, fast shipping and lowest price,” explains Rachel Krueger, SHAR’s director of ecommerce. And while email campaigns are automated, customers can always call a SHAR representative to get personalized assistance from a team of string instrument-playing employees.

How Reorder Works

Musicians know that they should change their strings every 6-8 months, but many either forget or just don’t get around to replacing them. Krueger wanted to automate a program to remind customers of this best practice and make it easy to reorder, all with a personal touch. She began the reorder program as a manual campaign, and when it succeeded, she automated it. The results have stayed consistently positive over several years. Initially, the emails were opened at a rate of 27% with a conversion rate of over 26% – well above the rates for standard promotional emails. Today, open rates run around 35% with a 24% conversion rate, and the campaign brings in about 53 cents for every email sent. “It’s really helped us keep customers loyal,” she says.

Upping the Tempo on Holiday Sales

For years, SHAR’s busiest season was back-to-school, when student musicians bought strings, instruments, sheet music and accessories. Krueger decided to layer in some Black Friday campaigns to entice self-gifters and families looking for gift ideas. SHAR offered 10 days of holiday promotions, with Bronto partner Movable Ink pushing content to email recipients depending on when they opened the email. An email sent on a Monday, but not opened until Thursday, would display the special for Thursday. The result: A 15% conversion rate and $3.50 per email in sales. “It helped us push tremendous revenue growth in the latter part of the year,” Krueger says.

Working With Strategy

SHAR’s ecommerce team consists of four people. To get the most from its email program, Krueger has employed Bronto’s professional services team, working with the same Bronto strategist for the past seven years. “It just gives us so much insider knowledge,” she says. “A lot of times, we’ll have ideas that we aren’t quite sure how to execute on. We can pick our strategist’s brain, and she’ll offer a wealth of suggestions.” The strategist has helped the team design mobile responsive templates and automated campaigns, as well as providing Krueger with industry benchmarks to better understand if her open, click and conversion rates are where they should be. And if they falter, the strategist is ready with suggestions to keep email revenue coming in. “She is maximizing the ROI we get out of each campaign.”

Moving Forward

As email becomes a more and more critical part of SHAR’s marketing strategy, Krueger says she is confident she has the right partner for the long run. “Bronto integrates well with everything we use, and the reporting is convenient. And there are some aspects of the platform we haven’t tapped yet, so I know we’ve got plenty of room for growth.”

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