Getting started with personalization – and taking it to the level of one-to-one marketing, where subscribers get highly relevant messages from your brand – can be daunting. Adam Wolff, manager of analytics for Woodwind & Brasswind, recently shared with us his team’s path to marketing to the segment of one. Here’s how they did it. Woodwind & Brasswind is the largest provider of school music products in the world. They sell to schools, institutions and direct to consumers through brick-and-mortar locations, on their website and in online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. The company is part of the Guitar Center enterprise, which also includes Music & Arts, Musician’s Friend and Music 123. “Before we got started, email accounted for less than 6% of overall revenue,” said Wolff, “and we knew that this was a lot lower than the industry average.” At the time, they were using a batch-and-blast promotional strategy. “Email was an afterthought. We’d say, ‘We have a promotion, we probably should send an email to those people.’ It was one email to the entire list. There was no personalization and no workflows,” he said. “Every time we made a dollar on email revenue, it required a manual input, which was difficult for our small team.”

Set Your Email Goals

Wolff and his team made the decision to grow Woodwind & Brasswind’s email channel. Here are the goals they created for the effort:
  • Increase marketing return on investment with email growth. This strategy would supplement some of the more expensive channels the brand used to communicate with shoppers, such as paid search and advertising.
  • Expand the types of emails sent to customers using transactional emails and workflows. “We knew we should be doing this – but we didn’t have the resources and technology to do it,” said Wolff.
  • Unlock customer data to improve communications with customers. They had a lot of data across different systems but couldn’t get the data out of the systems.
  • Provide a better experience for customers with personalization. Provide relevant, useful content via email.

Create a Data-Centric Foundation

Gathering historical data and importing it into your ecommerce and marketing automation platforms is important – because you need the data in a place you can use it. Once you have data, your segmentation possibilities increase – and with the Bronto Marketing Platform, you can use that information in real time.
  • Bring in order data. This is where many marketers leave money on the table. Be sure to bring in order data to ensure you’re collecting data that will give you the most opportunity to personalize your messages. Recency, frequency and monetary metrics show how recently someone bought, how often they buy and how much they spent with your brand.
  • Get your customer data into Bronto. Unless you brought over your order and product data when you first implemented Bronto, that data will not be there, so you only have a partial view. You can use an API customization to bring in the data. (Contact your Bronto account manager for assistance.) You also can do a manual upload, if you’re waiting on development resources or some other dependency. In any case, don’t just sit on the data; incorporate it into your email strategy as soon as and wherever possible.
  • Create a foundation for measurement. Without that, it will be incredibly difficult to improve and optimize your email programs. The Woodwind & Brasswind team began to think of email in the same way they looked at their other channels, such as paid search and direct mail. So, they bucketed emails by type – promotions, other specialized content and basic workflows.
Just as you break down your overall marketing budget by channel, you can break down your email by tactic. This allows you to improve your email program every month. If you see things are not doing well, you can make decisions quickly to change and improve along the way. The Woodwind & Brasswind team said this step gave them a new level of control over their marketing program.

Segment and Learn About Your Customers

Most retailers don’t take the time to segment, even though research shows it can result in higher opens, clicks and conversion rates. To communicate in a personalized way with your core audiences, you need to go deep on segmentation. Here’s how the team segmented their list:
  • Product verticals – Interest in instrument type. The shopper plays drums or the saxophone, for example.
  • Recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) metrics – How recently they’ve purchased, how often they bought and how much they buy.
  • Experience level – How much experience the shopper has with the instrument. Have they been playing for one year or 20?
  • Engagement level – Are they opening and clicking on messages?
  • Brand preference – If someone always purchases one type of mouthpiece reed for their clarinet, for example, the messages don’t need to encourage them to buy another brand.

Make Strategy Drive Your Promotions

The Woodwind & Brasswind team created promotions based on the needs of their largest segments and put together a marketing calendar with communication to each of those segments. They created unique value propositions that resonated with each segment. Here, the team thought about their shoppers and how they were talking to them. For example, what’s the message to a beginner guitar player versus a 20-year player? The team created messages that were unique to each segment. This will also help you avoid sending irrelevant emails that annoy your subscribers. Woodwind & Brasswind used these tactics, which are a vital part of every marketing strategy:
  • Footer or header sign-up on every web page to get visitors to subscribe. Woodwind & Brasswind used Bronto’s Pop-Up Manager and Coupon Manager apps to place a footer across their website that triggered a 10% off coupon. This tactic alone generated $310,000 for the company over a year.
  • New visitor pop-up – “This is probably the simplest thing I’ve ever done with Bronto. Anyone can do it,” said Wolff. His team only triggers this for new visitors, with a 10% discount offer. This tactic generated $340,000 over a year for the company.
  • Welcome campaign – Contact the customer, thank them for their purchase and encourage them to make another. Wolff says this message can be generic or based on segmentation: could get personalized or recommend a set of generic products.
  • Cart recovery – People who abandon carts are likely to convert, so Wolff and his team added this to their strategy.
  • Reactivation or winback campaign – The team used this to bring back customers who had not purchased in six months, with a 15% off promotion. After a customer hasn’t purchased for two years, they run a “make-up or break-up” campaign and up the discount to 25%.

The Bottom Line

Think about your customer lifecycle – and design your email marketing campaigns and tactics to meet your customers where they are and to give them what they want. All workflows should be designed around this customer lifecycle, to increase engagement and wallet share for your brand.