OSTRIV Case Study: How to Run Direct Marketing Strategy for an Online Store
The success of a marketing strategy largely depends on the brand's communication with its audience. When marketing offers are precisely targeted to interested customers, such a tactic can generate significantly more sales than mass promo campaigns. The direct marketing approach helps achieve high conversions and build long-term customer relationships. In this article, we will explain how to grow your business using this strategy, taking a successful case study of our customer as an example.
About the Project
OSTRIV is a multi-brand concept store with a unique collection of products and an extraordinary approach. The store offers its customers the opportunity to abandon the trends imposed by fashion magazines and follow a time-tested style. The creators of the concept store have collected legendary heritage brands, considered a symbol of good taste worldwide, but are still little known in Ukraine. The items of these brands are of high quality, comfortable, casual, and stylish at once. At the same time, the company is customer-centric and offers a large selection of items at an affordable price.
“Every business has a specific audience; ours stands out with an average check. We have a showroom and an online store, so the target audience segments differ. The offline audience is more solvent and, at the same time, more demanding. These customers are familiar with our brands and know what they want. They are interested in new products and the history of brands, while the discounts are insignificant to them. They value the uniqueness of the item and the fact that it looks cool and lasts a long time.
The average check for online store buyers is slightly lower. People come to us for specific brands. Our brands are not as famous as those of some competitors and do not yet capture a vast audience, but they have their fans. There is also a category of people who can't afford to buy items at their initial cost, so they are waiting for the discounts. Such customers visit the site, monitor the outlet, and find something for themselves at quite reasonable prices.
Our audience is still specific, and it is essential to work with each segment in a personalized manner." — Anton Dedus, OSTRIV Director
When the company decided to launch promo newsletters, it had a considerable number of contacts in the database. Those customers with whom they hadn't interacted for a long time were among them, too. What's more, previously, the company sent marketing offers to all subscribers without any segmentation. Analyzing the results of the campaigns, OSTRIV specialists concluded that they need to leverage a personalized approach to digital communication with their customers.
Thus, the company got started with segmentation. In the subscription form on the website, a visitor can choose which newsletter they are interested in: for men, women, or everyone. Each audience segment receives a personalized letter with a corresponding selection of products. In addition, the company periodically sent out mailings about certain brands to those who had already purchased items from these brands. Such letters turned out to be more effective compared to mass mailings. The OSTRIV team was once again convinced of the need to continue moving towards accurate targeting and personalization. Since there was no in-house email marketing specialist, the company decided to turn to the Yespo agency.
We didn't set any specific KPIs at the beginning of our cooperation. Instead, it was necessary to optimize the efforts already made and develop a direct marketing strategy that would bring results. Thus, together with the client, we set two main tasks:
- Conduct an audit and improve existing communications.
- Segment the audience and personalize communication with them.
Creating a Master Template
After auditing the account, we decided to create a master template as the number one priority. We expected it to give the company several advantages:
- The newsletter will have a style and recognizable elements that will resonate with the brand's guidelines.
- At the same time, there will be room to diversify the visualization. By creating several button options, headers, and information blocks in a corporate style, the company got an opportunity to bring freshness to the usual design of letters.
The time needed to create a newsletter was significantly reduced. The blocks prepared in the template can be easily transferred to other letters and quickly edited.
Discover more about how to customize the template in our system and how it affects the effectiveness of an email marketer in this article.
Next, we moved on to more global tasks — launching a full-fledged direct marketing strategy.
For some time, OSTRIV used a subscription form with a lead magnet: along with a welcome email, the new subscriber received a discount on their next order. Then, the company switched to a form without additional enticing mechanics and excluded the welcome letter from the mailing list.
A bonus in exchange for contact information is a good practice for expanding your base. Still, there is a risk of constantly falling for profit hunters who register several email addresses for a discount. At the same time, it is helpful to pamper the subscriber at the initial stage with a pleasant offer to build their loyalty. Having decided to launch a welcome series, we came to the optimal option: the subscription form will not contain information about the bonus, but in the first welcome letter, the client will receive a discount for completing the survey. Before that, we had to configure the verification of subscribers' email addresses correctly.
Yespo widgets —
promise a quick layout and a minimum integration complexity. Using the code is only needed to insert the required script into the site. With the help of our service built-in functionality, you can easily create site-style subscription forms, as well as set up automatic mailbox confirmation and welcome series launch.
Double Opt-In is one of the first steps towards successful mailings. By verifying the email, the customer confirms their interest in receiving letters from the company and eliminates errors in writing contact information.
After analyzing the history of events in the account, we noticed that many users did not confirm their email address after subscribing. Over the entire period, only about 10% of subscribers opened the mail verification email. A low message open rate may be a consequence of domain technical settings. That is why it is worth starting work on increasing the Open Rate with mailing analytics services. Data from Gmail Postmaster Tools showed that the spam rate was low and the domain reputation was good. This means that the reason why subscribers did not open letters to confirm the email was different.
As we know, the devil not only wears branded items but is also in the details. One of these details was the notification text the users received after subscribing to the site. After submitting the completed form, the "You have successfully subscribed" popup appeared on the page. Accordingly, the subscriber believed no additional actions were required and did not open the mailbox. To fix this situation, OSTRIV developers have launched a new popup notification on the site asking the subscribers to confirm their email.
In the meantime, we revised the contact confirmation script. The current chain consisted of an email to verify the email address and a repeat message for those who did not confirm the email. At the same time, the reminder letter was the same as the first one.
We have made several changes to the updated chain:
1. Message redesign. New letters were designed in the prepared master template style. Then, messages for DOI and the welcome series got a unified look.
We removed the menu with categories from the letters, focusing the subscriber's attention on a single button with the main target action — email confirmation. At the same time, the easy way for a potential buyer to return to the site remains unchanged: when a person clicks on the CTA, they are taken to the Thank You page and then redirected to the popular section — Outlet. This is a particularly effective way to bring a client back to the online store if they don't open the mail immediately after subscribing.
2. Avoiding using a name. At first glance, addressing a subscriber by name is an excellent way to win their favor. However, such personalization does not always have a positive effect in practice. In our case, avoiding using the name had a simple reason: all communication on behalf of OSTRIV is conducted in Ukrainian, and it took effort to avoid inaccuracies. The subscriber could enter their name in Russian or indicate their last name first.
Moreover, a newsletter should be appropriately formatted and edited to look reliable. However, according to the Ukrainian language rules, using the names in the vocative case is necessary when you are addressing a person. And since there was no technical possibility for such an automatic declination, we decided to begin new letters with a general greeting.
3. Testing themes and content. To further attract the subscriber's attention in the mailbox, the first letter and the reminder message should have different subject lines. We decided to conduct A/B testing and prepared four messages instead of two.
The first letter in the welcome chain offered a bonus for filling out a questionnaire. To test whether subscribers would be more willing to open emails knowing about the bonus, we created two chains:
- The subject line of the first letter is about subscription confirmation.
- The subject line of the reminder is about getting the discount in the following message after completing a survey.
- The subject line of the first email is about the opportunity to receive a bonus by confirming your email address.
- The subject line of the reminder is about the need to verify mail without mentioning additional benefits.
Sending different chains in one script was implemented using the "Split" block. For the purity of the experiment, it was necessary to set the 50/50 probability of launching each branch.
After analyzing subscribers' reactions in reports after the test period, you can choose the best option and use it in the scenario.
At the time of writing, the results showed that letters with information about the bonus in the subject still aroused more interest, but the differences were minor.
Welcome series for subscribers
Welcome letters in mailing lists are almost the same as a personal acquaintance: you have to tell about yourself and learn something about the interlocutor. Some welcome chains look like a monologue: the subscriber can discover the company's advantages and bonus programs and is invited to join the brand's social media and other communication channels. This tactic may deliver good conversion results but is unsuitable for our case. Considering the need to segment the base, the priorities in the welcome series were set as follows: first, we learn more about the subscribers (while they are "warm" and loyal to the company), and then we talk about the advantages of the store.
The emphasis in the first welcome letter was on getting to know each other using a questionnaire.
To persuade a subscriber to spend their time completing a survey, you can use different methods of motivation:
- receiving more interesting content in the future;
- personal discounts for special dates or selected product categories;
- attractive offers in the form of reduced prices, free shipping, etc. For OSTRIV subscribers, a 10% discount became a material bonus for filling out the questionnaire.
We decided to ask about something other than favorite brands since our client had already done such segmentation based on purchase history. In addition, the store carries more than a hundred brands, and consumer tastes may change over time. Therefore, the questionnaire consisted of several general questions:
- birthdate — to set up one of the most popular triggers and congratulate the subscriber on holiday;
- the presence and gender of children — the store had just launched the OSTRIV Kids line, and it was necessary to send relevant recommendations to the interested audience;
- shopping preferences (online or offline) — to identify trends in subscriber reactions and develop new approaches to each segment.
When preparing the questionnaire, we immediately set up recording responses in a contact card without third-party services.
Further segmentation can be easily configured in the Yespo account using dynamic groups.
So, it became possible to make newsletters more personalized immediately after a subscriber joins the OSTRIV family.
Start sending personalized offers to your subscribers!
The idea of the second welcome letter was not only to talk about the advantages of the store but also to bring tangible benefits to customers. Therefore, we have chosen a topic that will interest many subscribers: how to buy high-quality branded items with maximum benefit. The letter lets readers learn more about the outlet's special promotions on the website and social media. To immerse the subscriber in the shopping atmosphere, we created a GIF banner, where a young man goes to the OSTRIV concept store, selects things, and leaves satisfied with his purchases. The approach resonated with the audience: the email open rate exceeded 45%, and it began to generate sales.
Welcome series for buyers
Some companies try to increase their mailing list by any means and send messages to everyone who has ever left them contact information. Sometimes, somewhere in the fine print, there may even be a user consent to receive promotional materials. However, the quality of such a database becomes very doubtful: among the contacts, there will be many uninterested and, as a result, inactive subscribers. And in the worst case, they will start complaining about spam.
We decided to expand the base more smartly and set up different chains depending on the point of contact between the client and the company.
Online store users
In addition to the subscription form, there are other forms on the site where the buyer can leave their contacts:
- order in one click;
- detailed order form with detailed information;
- registration of a personal account.
We recommended adding an email field to all checkout windows and providing them with the "I want to receive newsletters" option. Now, users can subscribe not only through the form in the footer but also by performing other actions on the site.
The following interaction scheme has been established with them:
- Those who placed an order/registered an account and agreed to receive the newsletter receive an email confirmation letter and then a welcome series.
- Those who made an online purchase/created an account and did not subscribe to the newsletter receive a mandatory email with the benefits of the newsletter and an invitation to subscribe. If the contact confirms the subscription, a chain of welcome emails will be launched; if they do, they will only receive messages regarding their orders.
But what to do when the user makes an order and does not check the box to agree to the newsletter, but they had already subscribed earlier? How can we avoid sending an irrelevant letter inviting them to subscribe? Such tasks in scenarios are solved using a check block to determine whether a contact is included in a specific group. The chain is divided into different branches depending on whether a given condition is met.
In our case, we set up the logic as follows: if the user is already included in the subscriber database, a check is made to see if they received an email with a survey. If not, they receive a message asking them to complete a questionnaire to make the newsletter more interesting. Thus, we have set up data collection about those who have already subscribed for a long time.
Clients from 1C
In addition to contacts added to the account automatically, thanks to integration with the site, the database is periodically updated with data through manual import from the 1C system. Such lists may contain customers' contacts from offline stores, and it is also important to start interacting with them correctly. First, obtaining their consent to the newsletter would be ethical: only some people who purchase agree to receive company news by default. Also, a confirmation request excludes invalid addresses and positively affects the quality of the database.
You can automatically send an opt-in email to manually imported contacts. To do this, an event of the "Import" category is used as a condition for launching the script.
When downloading a file with contacts, you must enable the "Run workflow after import" option, which activates sending the chain.
The system provides that the newsletter will be sent only to new contacts. This is right for our case: it eliminates the probability that the offer will be sent to a subscriber already added to the database.
By confirming their consent to receive promotional emails, customers go through a new subscriber journey. To get to know each other better, they first receive a welcome series and then fully participate in other newsletters.
Setting up Abandoned Carts and Views
Triggers for abandoned carts and views were previously used in OSTRIV newsletters to encourage customers to finalize a purchase. Still, before our cooperation started, they were on hold.
The omnichannel chains involved email, Viber, and web push. Subscribers received the message first in the messenger, and if, after some time, it turned out to be unread, then notifications in other channels were sent. Considering that the OSTRIV audience most actively interacts with Viber messages, they decided not to change the workflow sequence. And at the same time, triggered campaigns were set a little differently.
Communicate with your customers in different channels effectively!
Updating Letters Design
This time, the task was to visualize the letter according to the new newsletter design and update the product cards themselves. Previously, data substitution in messages occurred through SRT blocks. They allow you to display content as it appears on the site. And since the product cards in the new letters had to match the style of the master template, we needed post-processing of the data.
For example, the names of products were automatically pulled up from the site in lowercase letters, and the formats of the old and new prices differed from each other: the current cost was displayed as a fractional number with a zero after the decimal point, and the original price without a discount was shown as an integer.
For this reason, we prepared new product cards using the Apache Velocity library. This method allows you to make changes to the data display using the code editor, and we have configured the necessary blocks in accordance with the template.
Adding Personal Recommendations to Emails
Our experience shows that personalized product recommendations can generate 40% of sales from promo email campaigns. Additionally, custom product selections are a proven marketing practice for growing sales and a way to build customer loyalty.
Yespo has several options for implementing personalized product recommendations in letters:
- AI algorithms-based automatic selections;
- sending recommendations using an API request;
- substitution of goods from the preprocessor.
OSTRIV already used web tracking technology on the site to run cart abandonment and view triggers, so our integration team set up recommendation blocks using the first method. Now, subscribers receive reminders about products that previously interested them and can choose items they like much faster.
Develop personalized recommendations for your store!
Editing the Recipients Segment
OSTRIV carefully approaches its audience, and non-intrusive communication is one of the crucial principles of its strategy. That is why our client wished to set up triggers so that the same subscriber would not receive both an abandoned view and an abandoned cart email simultaneously, as happened before.
The algorithms used in Yespo are configured as follows by default: if a contact receives an event about an unfinished purchase, an abandoned view message will not be sent to them. As for the reverse situation, everything is easily configured through condition cards in the group for which the workflow is launched. You can build dynamic segments to suit your needs by setting specific rules. This way, we eliminated the possibility that a person will receive emails about an abandoned view and cart.
Creating Target Segments
Speaking about conditional groups in Yespo, it is worth noting that this is a simple and very effective tool for successful personalized mailings. For example, based on the online customers' portrait obtained at the start of the cooperation, we created a target segment of those who spent a certain time browsing the outlet section of the website but did not make a purchase.
Similar data about the behavior of authorized users can be obtained using web tracking. This group then received dedicated mailings about the sale separately from other segments. Reports confirmed that those who had recently searched for a product at a discounted price but had not purchased anything were highly interested in discount emails.
Having confirmed the effectiveness of such point segmentation in practice, our client intends to use the functionality of conditional groups in the future.
1. We have prepared a master template for a quick layout of letters. The time it takes an email marketer to create a newsletter has been reduced by 2-4 times.
2. We optimized the collection of data from all forms on the site. Subscription confirmation emails are now opened by more than 53% of users (up from the previous 10%).
3. We differentiated communication for those who agreed to the mailings and those who refused.
4. We set up a welcome chain for different contacts depending on the source.
1st welcome letter:
- for subscribers from the main form: OR – 75%, CTR ~ 34%;
- for those who placed an order: OR – 43%, CTR ~ 14%;
- for those who have registered a personal account on the website: OR – 48%, CTR ~ 14%;
- for clients imported from 1C: OR – 70%, CTR ~ 60%.
2nd welcome letter (one for everyone): OR – 45%, CTR ~ 8%.
5. In addition to surveying subscribers in the welcome series, we implemented sending a survey to previously subscribed contacts.
6. We also launched basic ecommerce triggers: abandoned carts and views, happy birthday.
7. During our cooperation, we tested three options for subject lines for letters about abandoned carts (OR on average – 47-57%) and views (OR – 42-56%) and also added personal recommendations. After implementing custom offers, the number of clicks from abandoned view emails increased by ~1.5 times and from unfinished order emails by 1.5 to 2.5 times, depending on the subject line.
The completed tasks helped build a solid foundation for effective mailings in the future. By automating the customer data collection, you can make more targeted offers and deliver more relevant content to the subscribers. Personalized triggered newsletters, in turn, help build relationships with the audience.
"Abandoned carts and views workflows delivered some of the most prominent results. These are triggers that people respond well to and that generate consistent sales.
So far, the small percentage of opens and clicks from promotional emails could be more encouraging: given the size of our database, the traffic could be higher. However, I think some customer reactivation activities have not yet been completed, which we have to do shortly. We must remember that our database was abandoned, and previously, letters were sent to everyone about everything. When we started sending targeted messages, the letters produced better results. There is still much to try, learn, watch, and test. I think that in the end, we will break through this wall between us and our clients.
For us, Viber is a pretty effective tool to communicate with our customers. An email channel still needs to be scaled and developed. I believe in this channel and that it can bring results." — Anton Dedus, OSTRIV Director
The OSTRIV team has a forward-thinking approach to marketing strategy and many exciting tasks planned for the future. First of all, their customer base needs to be reactivated. Global updates are also expected on the site, including the personal account becoming more functional. For customers of an online store, this will mean increased convenience, and for the company, it will be an opportunity to learn more about its customers. The planned scaling of the loyalty program can create additional opportunities for growing sales.
Get inspired by OSTRIV's enthusiasm and start improving your direct marketing strategy today! If you need expert help, feel free to leave a request, and Yespo specialists will gladly support you.