I See Me!

Selling Your Story With Personalization

All Stories

The Goal

  • Create, test, tweak and optimize emails without need for developer or coder resource.
  • Increase browse and cart recovery while reducing dependence on promotions and incentives.
  • Increase engagement and conversions of the welcome series.

The Approach

  • Use intuitive message editing and reporting with no HTML expertise.
  • Test and optimize browse and cart recovery messages.
  • Include more of the brand story in welcome series.

The Result

  • Browse Recovery has delivered three times the return on the investment.
  • New Cart Recovery series, without a promotion, converts at 165% higher than standard full-list sends, and the second cart message (with no discount code) converts at 130% higher.
  • Welcome series with “brand story” converts 28% better than the old, promotion-driven series.

Selling Your Story With Personalization 

Ryan Guldberg likes to test things out. Whether it’s segmenting a welcome series based on information received from a preference form, testing a promotion with a cart recovery email or even A/B testing subject lines, he takes a data-driven approach to his job as director of ecommerce marketing at I See Me!, a personalized books and gifts retailer.

With his previous email platform, however, testing wasn’t that simple. “Everything was such a big job, and we had to pay to make any changes,’’ Guldberg says. But with Bronto, Guldberg is testing, tweaking and optimizing on his own with big results. The company’s cart recovery program converts at a rate 165% higher than promotional emails; the browse recovery campaign has delivered three times the investment; and the welcome series is converting at a rate 28% higher than the series it ran with the previous email provider. This past holiday season’s email-driven revenue saw a 9.23% increase over the previous year (when the retailer hadn’t yet been with Bronto a full year).

“Everything in Bronto is so easy. With our old platform, I had to have a developer on their team build automated campaigns. If we wanted anything changed, it was so complex. We couldn’t do anything on our own,’’ Guldberg says.

Breaking Free of a Perpetual Promotion Cycle

I See Me! sells personalized books and gifts for children and adults. They offer games, picture books, and even personalized pet gifts. Its customers provide glowing reviews, and email plays a key role in engaging and retaining them.

When Guldberg joined the company two years ago, he immediately saw that email was not getting the job done, especially for the cost. “I had used Bronto at a prior company, and I knew we could do better,’’ he says.

Guldberg also wanted to move the company away from a dependence on constant promotions. “Anytime someone abandoned a cart, we gave them a big promotion,’’ he says. But if you decide to move away from promotions, you must be able to test and measure your new approaches. “That was difficult with the old platform because the reporting was kind of shoddy and it was manual. With Bronto, reporting is automated and directly in the platform.”

Before he could even begin testing new strategies, Guldberg needed to improve the company’s deliverability. “We had a big problem, and the holidays were approaching,’’ he says. Since he could manage segmentation without developer help, Guldberg experimented with splitting the list into active openers, occasional openers and what he calls “the zombie list.” Low open rates are a flag for some ISPs that retailers are spamming – even when they aren’t. Guldberg’s approach immediately lifted open rates, and deliverability also improved. The zombie list gets an occasional blast. Even better: In Bronto, the lists automatically update based on business rules. A zombie subscriber that reacts to an email is moved to a more active list, while some long-time inactive subscribers are removed.

For guidance on deliverability, promotions and other email topics, Guldberg employed Bronto strategic services. “You get a little bit of agency-type help without hiring an agency,’’ he says.

Welcoming New Customers

Guldberg reworked the welcome series to be less about promotions and more about introducing the brand. “We wanted to include more emotional messaging about the value of a personalized product. We don’t offer a promotion until the third message,’’ he says. “The ability to test our messages helped us create a welcome series with conversion rates 28% better than the old, promotion-driven series.’’

Guldberg was also able to test – and discard – an approach that didn’t work. I See Me! asked customers at sign-up about their relationship to the person they were buying for. From that information, they segmented messages. It didn’t increase conversions, but it was something Guldberg says he could not have even tried with the previous platform due to the costs associated with creating the segments.

Enhancing Conversion With Cart and Browse Recovery

Having a robust cart series is critical as I See Me!’s product requires information from shoppers that they might not have when they begin to cart the product. The cart series, without a promotion, converts at 165% higher than standard full-list sends, and the second cart message (with no discount code) converts at 130% higher.

Guldberg is also experimenting with Browse Recovery. For customers that have subscribed, a browsing session triggers an email. Guldberg views these emails as a reminder to customers that might be browsing on a mobile device and want to wait until they’re on a larger device to create a book. Guldberg says I See Me! hasn’t fully explored how best to use the solution, but it is performing at 3x the return on the investment.

Segmenting on VIP Status and Deploying Social

In changing his approach to promotions, Guldberg wanted to start identifying VIP customers and offer them a better deal. To do this, he built a list by looking at people who’ve opened recently and purchased repeatedly in the last year. He’ll also look at customers who made a large first purchase and then went silent. “These buyers are often purchasing for a birthday or other special occasion.” For Guldberg, it’s much easier to see the first time someone bought than it was with the old platform. “You can learn so much about your business by going into reporting and playing around.’’

Guldberg uses two additional Bronto solutions that help with prospecting and promotion abuse. Coupon Manager creates unique codes so that promotions don’t leak out on the internet. And Socialite boosts I See Me!’s ability to target the right customers on social media. “Socialite looks at our list and helps us identify what our customers have in common. And we use that to build a lookalike audience profile in social media,’’ Guldberg says.

Guldberg talks extensively about the benefits of being able to do so much without a developer, which includes building messages. While users can still code messages, they can also create them with the Message Editor. That came in handy when I See Me! lost its main HTML message builder. “We’ve got a creative team member who doesn’t know HTML putting our emails together,’’ he says, adding it’s just one of the many reasons working with Bronto makes him happy.

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