Smart email marketing for customer retention


Using a smart digital marketing tool, built for growth


At 44 Digital, we’ve been working with high-quality British food producers who identified a new opportunity to reach their customers in a different way.  


By offering a truly sustainable alternative to the larger grocery retailers, this innovative new company has built up a customer base of loyal ‘foodies’ – passionate advocates who want their weekly shopping sourced ethically, delivered responsibly, with minimal waste and all partners in the supply chain paid a fair and sustainable price. 


The challenge

To supplement our successful e-commerce store, we wanted to create a channel of direct communication in order to both retain these like-minded individuals and attract more of the same type of person. The channel had to be highly targeted, personalised and based firmly on data about our customers’ behaviour. 


Retention was our absolute priority. Knowing that customers who try us for the first time are likely to buy into our ethos, we understood how important it was to grow that base into highly vocal and passionate ambassadors for the brand. We needed to talk on a highly personal level to each of them, and fully understand their needs on an almost one-to-one basis. 


The strategy replicated the highly personal customer service these customers experienced over the existing support phone line and online chat channels, but in a refreshingly proactive, direct way. 


Through extensive research, we also had to factor in our aim to be both competitive and profitable in the long term. We were targeting a marketing channel segmentation of around 45% by email, 45% direct from our website and 10% from everything else. As email was chosen as the direct channel, we had to make sure the strategy and platform used were flexible and highly integrated with our e-commerce offering. 


The solution

This was a case of laying out our overall strategy clearly, and then cross-referencing the many email platform providers to see if any of them could offer everything we required. 


Most off-the-shelf solutions could cope with the quality of design, with many good drag-and-drop email builders on the market. A few could help us create customised user flows to take customers on that personalised journey of discovery. Only one had the sophistication and capability to interrogate our customer behaviour data, talk to customers on a personal level and at the same time automate processes as much as possible to keep the back-up team to a minimum. 


Measurement and analytics

Measuring email engagement data is of course important. However, we needed to go further than that. We wanted to justify every communication we sent by value of ultimate revenue. We needed to engage and inspire our customers – but only their subsequent decision to buy from us again would justify the allocation of resources to the channel in terms of time, people and creativity.  


Easy integration with our e-commerce store enabled the platform to link purchases directly back to a customer engagement from a specific email.  


This was the game changer for us. With the ability to see what communications had generated actual sales on a daily basis – and how much they’d generated – we had the clearest line of sight from customer to purchase we’d ever seen. 


Lists and segmentation

Segmenting our audience of 6,500 people was critical to the success of the channel. At a high level, this meant splitting out our audiences based on their level of engagement with us. We were then in a far better position to enrich our engaged customers’ experience of the brand with relevant and timely information, while at the same time enticing less-engaged customers back with something their experience might have been missing up to that point. 


With advanced behavioural data, we are now collecting and interrogating further segmentations, including timely emails to customers during their own prime-buying windows, as well as relevant emails to customers who show particular patterns in the type and quantity of products they are purchasing.


Automated flows

There was also some immediate ‘low-hanging fruit’ from creating automated flows that could trigger personalised emails based on particular customer behaviours. For example: 

– A welcome from the team behind the brand, and subsequent thank you emails for further purchases.
Reminders of the subscription, refer-a-friend and the one-click reordering features on the site.
– Retargeting both basket and browser abandonment, politely reminding customers of products they might still want.
– ‘A/B testing’ all subject lines, messages and personalised content blocks with emails to maximise the success of our flows. 



We created a robust schedule of campaign emails having already tested the best times of the month, week and day to send to customers. We also categorised the types of campaign themes so we knew what theme should have what frequency for optimal success. 


The bottom line

Our original goal was to try and reach 35%-40% of total sales through email within the first 18 months. With a solid strategy and the platform in place that could deliver it, we were pushing past 40% in the first three months. 

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