The Christie Cookie Company
Testing a New Recipe
Driven by the pursuit of the “perfect cookie,” The Christie Cookie Company makes premium-quality, made-fresh-daily cookies.
A Special Ingredient Yields Delicious Results
The main ingredients of Christie Cookie’s marketing efforts were email campaigns – a tried-and-true approach. Cookies are good in batches; emails not so much. Emails work best when they carry content that’s particularly relevant for a segment of potential shoppers and then sent in a way that targets each group. “Batch and blast,” where all recipients see the same email content with the same frequency, will eventually get the attention of a few customers, but Christie Cookie wanted to get online sales cooking more quickly.
Christie Cookie needed a way to connect with its various customer groups personally. We explained that just as Christie’s many delicious product flavors appeal to different tastes, its email efforts would be more effective if designed with customer preferences in mind. We explained audience segmentation and conducted a simple test for Christie Cookie’s campaigns and demonstrated that the company’s email efforts would be more effective if designed with customer segments and preferences in mind.
The newly designed emails outperformed the previous campaigns, delivering program revenue that was up 86% over the previous year.
Testing a New Recipe
Christie Cookie’s customers are a diverse group. Like all online shoppers, they want to learn about different products, services and offers, ideally delivered through emails sent at different times in the buying process. They subscribe – and will continue to subscribe – if the emails they get are relevant to them and timed to their readiness to interact. At no time is an entire database of customers at the same place in terms of readiness to buy. And while it’s not possible to pinpoint the moment or message that will move every individual customer to purchase, retailers can increase the effectiveness of email marketing with simple segmentation tactics. The goal of the segmentation test was to drive purchases by customers who had recently registered on the website without making a purchase, or those who had registered in the past but had never made a purchase.
We identified seven distinct segments for all the customers in Christie Cookie’s database, ranging from never purchased, to purchased but not within the last 25 months. The two overall segments, under which we defined sub segments, were ‘have purchased,’ and ‘never purchased.’ Then, sub segments were defined by the amount of time since last purchase, or time since registration or newsletter signup without a purchase. Data were drawn from Google Analytics as well as Christie Cookie’s email service provider.
We believed that providing an incentive to shop would persuade the ‘never purchased’ test segment to buy something. A never-purchased segment is “pure” in the sense that other factors such as last time purchased, frequency of purchases, incentives offered at time of purchase, etc., don’t complicate the historical data, making it a good group to test. Plus, the segment was permission-based; recipients had signed up to receive emails from Christie Cookie. The thinking was, “They want to hear from us, so let’s give them a reason to buy.” And that served as the goal for the test. Previous campaign data showed that new registrants – people who had signed up within the last 14 days – had moderate open and click-through rates (CTR) (as well as Google Analytics engagement metrics), but had weak conversion rates, indicating there was lots of room for improvement. Even customers who had signed up for email more than a year earlier opened the messages, clicked through to the site and shopped, to some degree, but were not likely to check out.
To improve CTRs and conversion in ‘never purchased’ segments, an email was created with a value-added message. A simple note about a company “secret” was included in emails to customers who had never made a purchase, designed to inspire confidence in the product and move them to buy.
Finding the Secret Ingredient
With just that simple “our secret” content added to emails to the ‘never purchased’ segments, Christie Cookie saw results in these important metrics:
- New Registrant segment increased 107%
- Registrants 0-12 Months increased 13%
- Registrants 13+ Months increased 29%
- New Registrant segment decreased 74%
- Registrants 0-12 Months increased 170%
- Registrants 13+ Months increased 9%
While the New Registrant segment produced dramatic results, this segment represented the smallest number of recipients in the database at just 0.18%. Registrants 0-12 Months represented about 5% of Christie Cookie’s database. At 95%, the Registrants 13+ Months represented the biggest number of customers and delivered strong CTRs and conversion – 29% and 9%, respectively.
Email is one of the most valuable marketing channels used by online retailers today. But to really connect with customers and win their loyalty, messages must be relevant to them. Messages that are relevant in content, timed right, and delivered with the optimal frequency are a recipe for success.
In addition to recommendations for customer segmentation strategies for their email marketing efforts, we gave Christie Cookie’s email designs an updated look and feel. The new designs better convey the distinctive brand equity the company has built on the traditions of premium quality, the finest ingredients, products that are made fresh daily and deliver superior customer service. The newly designed emails outperformed the previous campaigns, delivering program revenue that was up 86% over the previous year.
Email has always been an effective marketing tool for us, but it’s working even better now, thanks to new designs and some simple customer segmentation tactics.Sue O'Donnell, President, Mail Order Division, The Christie Cookie Company