By Joseph Mutidjo, Smallbiztechnology.com Reporter
Beauty Bridge helps its customers look fabulous, offering over 150 high-end cosmetic brands through its online store and retail outlet. But with poor open rates in its email marketing campaigns, the company decided it needed an email makeover, and changes to its system and strategy.
Owners Gokhan and Kate Erkavun were using a popular online email marketing software, but it just wasn’t cutting it. They had to manually upload spreadsheets with customer names for each monthly campaign.
When the emails were sent to opt-in customers, the few that read them perceived the emails as spam, and sent in enough complaints to get the store’s email marketing account suspended regularly.
“In 2009 we went looking for a platform which allowed us to be more targeted with our emails,” recalled Gokhan. “We met Bronto, an email marketing software company, at one of the conferences hosted by Stone Edge, which we use to manage our online and brick and mortar stores.”
The Erkavuns decided that integrating the company’s Stone Edge CRM with Bronto’s email marketing platform would allow the company to better segment its email campaigns, provide automation for standard email communication, and allow it to compete effectively against bigger stores.
Gokhan worked with a contractor to connect the company’s CRM to Bronto’s API. The project cost about $4000, and a month and half later, the company’s customer database was syncing beautifully with Bronto’s system.
With the infrastructure in place, the next step was revamping the company’s email marketing strategy. For this the company turned to Email Aptitude, an email strategy firm in Redlands, CA. Email Aptitude worked with the store to redesign its email templates, and come up with a plan of action. Gokhan continues to partner with Email Aptitude, which now manages all of the store’s email campaigns for $1800 per month.
It wasn’t long before customers started paying attention to the store’s improved email campaigns. With a new look and pinpoint targeting, the company garnered a 110% increase in conversion rate, and 18 consecutive months of double-digit conversion rates. Currently between 100,000 and 150,000 emails are sent out monthly.
Automating email tasks, like replenishment reminders, help the company save time, and stay in the minds of its customers.
“We set up a replenishment reminder email to go out after three months, which is the average time a customer runs out of a product We get good results from the reminder emails, because they are really targeted,” said Gokhan. “They remind the customers we’re really giving value in their purchase . . . and we’re just being helpful, giving them an easy option to reorder.”
Product review requests are also automatically sent to customers, two weeks after an order is shipped. Prior to the new system, the store had difficulty getting customers to post product reviews on its website and Facebook page. The automated review requests now bring in “about 100 product reviews per month, and it keeps growing,” said Gokhan.
Gokhan believes an integrated CRM and email marketing system is of great benefit to small businesses.
He surmised, “With existing customers, email is the most effective way to communicate. But you want to make sure you don’t bother your customers. You want to be helpful with their purchases. That’s why we decided to be more targeted and smarter, so we don’t steal their time with unnecessary emails. I believe that was the most important point with our switch: to have a better face with our customers.”
Beauty Bridge had humble beginnings, starting as an eBay business in 2004. The husband and wife team, both former engineers, have since grown the company to 10 employees, operating out of a 10,000 square foot space in Nutley, NJ. The store is “constantly improving,” said Gokhan, but he’s glad he doesn’t have to worry about his email marketing system anymore.