How an online retailer grew its e-mail list 20 percent in only five months.
I’ve written several times about growing a mailing list. But before a company can focus on growing a list, it must decide on the list’s purpose. Are the mailings a transactional tool? A sales tool? A combination? Here’s a look at a business that grew its mailing list to further both goals.
GourmetStation is an Internet-only retailer of high-end gourmet foods. Founded in mid-2000, GourmetStation offers four-course dinners and a range of appetizers, entrees, and desserts; for example, you can order the Cajun chicken and salmon sampler with Low Country sauces. As GourmetStation sells exclusively online, it’s crucial the company take advantage of Internet marketing.
In the beginning, its marketing focus was on lead generation using search engines. GourmetStation added customers who came to the site via search engines to its database. But if visitors went to the site and didn’t order, there was no way for GourmetStation to capture those email addresses. The company needed a way to keep a relationship going with those who didn’t buy.
Six months ago, the retailer teamed with BrightWave Marketing. The two focused their efforts on email marketing. In five months, GourmetStation has grown its list database by 20 percent.
They started with an email newsletter that fits the site’s look and feel: clean, colorful, and brief. The newsletter contains a mix of special offers and news. A recent newsletter promoting Mardi Gras menus contained a few facts about Mardi Gras and a coupon for Cajun products. Once the idea of the newsletter was set, the companies used a variety of tactics to entice and retain customers:
In addition to 20 percent growth within five months, 60 percent of sales in the fourth quarter are attributed directly to email offers to this database. Prior to the email campaign, nearly all the company’s sales came from word of mouth and search engines. Thirty percent of the database members are repeat customers. GourmetStation now considers email marketing a vital customer retention tool.
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
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Heidi is a freelance writer who covers the Internet for both consumers and businesses. She's a former editor of the E-mail Publishing Resource Center and coauthor of "Sometimes the Messenger Should Be Shot: Building a Spam-Free E-mail Marketing Program." Her work also appears in Smart Computing, PC Novice, What's Working Online, and Editor & Publisher.
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