142% Higher open rate on retail Email Marketing Strategy

142% Higher open rate on retail Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing: 142% higher open rate, 15% bigger list from retailer’s strategy:

Successful email marketing involves sending email messages with the purpose of acquiring new customers and maintaining the current or the old customers.

This retailer uses a holistic approach. Its email list grew 15% last year, and emails delivered on the right days see 142% higher open rates. In this article, you’ll see how the team at KooKoo Bear Kids uses IPads to build the list, how it segments the audience and why data and testing are so important.

By Adam Sutton, Senior Reporter

Joe Mediate, the CMO of KooKoo Bear Kids, a children’s furniture and décor retailer says that the success of his team depends largely on the emails that typically drive people to a brick-and-mortar store. The major audience consists of females aging from 21 to 35.

Part #1 Build the list creatively

KooKoo Bear earns subscribers through word of mouth and by asking customers to sign up in places such as in stores during checkout, online during checkout and on most pages of its website, near footer which helped it grow its list by 3% in 2009. By 2010, through emails, the growth increased to 7% for the year and it hit 15% for all of last year. This success happened due to the tactics like the one described below:

Digital signup in stores

It allows the customers to use an IPad near register to opt in for emails which benefited the customers also as they were given the privileges of getting coupons or specials.

Part #2. Leverage segmentation and automation

Mediate, with the help of team introduced an algorithm in-house to automatically segment email subscribers into groups based on products of interest, such as:




Wall art


The advantages of the algorithm:

· Predicts the gender and age group of the child for whom the person is shopping.

· Browsing behavior: the time spent in a portion of the website, as well as number of pages viewed help determine the products of interest.

· Purchase behavior: the type of products a customer buys.

· Source: the source through which the person encountered KooKoo Bear.

Series of automated emails:

It was introduced to encourage customers buying products in a sequence by including relevant offers and educational content regarding the products the customers buy and also about other products.

Part #3. Think strategy, not tactics

Here are four components of the team’s marketing strategy and how email fits into the puzzle:

Find fresh prospects

Kids becoming 9 and 10 lose interest in the products of KooKoo Bear as it basically has products for kids below this age. Due to this the customers of KooKoo Bear outgrow products eventually.

To raise awareness, to reach new audiences, drive site traffic and to get new shoppers into the KooKoo Bear’s stores, the email marketers gauged ads of newly introduced products through the channels of billboards, television, radio, print and online display.

Make an impression

To make a good impression on the customers visiting stores, KooKoo Bear hires professional interior designers.

There are two ways to make a good impression:

Strong in-store experience:

The designer team of KooKoo Bear designs the interior of its stores and provides exceptional customer care to set itself apart. The KooKoo Bear team helps the customers with the ideas of decorating room, the wall color, the fabric choices and much more. This unique feature of KooKoo Bear makes a strongly good impression on the customers having the babies and kids.

Product staging online:

Outside the stores, the team of KooKoo Bear strives to make a good impression on its website by demonstrating KooKoo Bear’s selection, quality and sense of style through browsing “designer nursery rooms” and bedrooms from the homepage.

Build a relationship

The team sends weekly emails with offers, promotions and information about new products and trends. This helps to build a stronger relationship with the customers.

Keep the customer

The goal of building this relationship is to win a customer, but the strategy does not end there. The team’s marketing adjusts to retain customers after they buy. This is done in part by offering a loyalty program and VIP offers via email.

The team also helps hold onto email customers by:

Limiting frequency:

The team tests its email frequency to get the best results without smothering subscribers. It typically sends one email each week, which is enough to continue the relationship.

Staying relevant:

The team’s in-house technology predicts what some customers will buy and when. This, as well as the segmentation strategy mentioned earlier, helps KooKoo Bear deliver relevant information that keeps customers opening and reading its emails.

Part #4. Collect data and always test

When the price of selling products via catalogue became a burden, the team began tracking data at the program’s foundation. KooKoo Bear’s data powers its segmentation, automation and testing. Here are two insights the team discovered through testing:

Measure by quarter

The marketers test email variations between 90 days and 6 months which helps the team avoid making poor decisions based on data skewed by seasonality. For example, the team could test a new promotional strategy for the second week in December and see results much higher than average. However, since that is a peak time of year, results are expected to be above average anyway. How would the team know if the test caused the increase or if it was seasonality?

By running tests and monitoring results for at least three months, the team can understand if a test consistently increases results, regardless of seasonality.


Testing on a seasonal calendar helped the team discover insights for email timing and frequency. For example the team’s test showed:

  • Sending once every five to seven days "is the magic number for us," Mediate said. However, that is only for most of the year. During the holidays, the team can send emails every two days without affecting the open rate, which yields higher results overall.
  • Emails sent on Thursday or Friday consistently perform higher than emails sent on Monday or the weekend. Thursday emails have an average 11.5% open rate, Fridays have 12.1% and Mondays have roughly 5%.
  • One exception to this trend is when the team sends a national campaign (one targeted to driving online sales across the country rather than in-store sales in Greater Atlanta). Open rates are higher for these campaigns when sent on Sundays and Mondays, Mediate said.
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