Garden machines: how a seasonal business can support its revenue with midseason mailings

7 Aug ‘19

Garden machines is an online gardening equipment store based in Saint Petersburg. They have been in the market for 27 years. Thanks to their reputation as an expert in the sphere of gardening equipment repairs and sales, they managed to build a dedicated client audience. This is one of the few unique cases of unsuccessful market cannibalization. The opening of stores such as Obi, Leroy Merlin, and Citilink didn’t bankrupt the business.

Results

The sale of gardening equipment is a seasonal business. The most profitable times of year are considered to be Spring (people are buying equipment for their seasonal homes and gardens) and Summer (people are getting ready to clean leaves).

We launched triggered and mass newsletters in June in order to clutch the profitable end of summer. Beginning in October (start of the mid-season) we added promotional in mid-season triggers, in order to avoid a sharp drop in sales.

Share of revenue from newsletters relative to total revenue

+16-18%

Season

+8%

Midseason

In May, Mindbox integrated with Garden Equipment
In May, Mindbox integrated with Garden Equipment. During the season (end of summer – start of fall) the share of revenue increased by 8-10 times, during the mid-season (October, November) – 5 times.

Situation

There are two common distinctive characteristics for a business involved in the sale of gardening equipment. First and foremost, seasonality. Sales are most active in the spring: people buy equipment for their gardens, seasonal houses. Then, come winter, sales slowly decline to the bottom.

Secondly, the conditional principle which dictates people buy expensive equipment less frequently online, giving preference to offline purchases is relevant to garden equipment retail. Which is why there is always a risk that an email newsletter will not induce a desire to buy a large piece equipment online.

The store’s database contains 30 thousand clients, which left their phone number and email address. Gardening machines marketers would send mass newsletters twice a month to all contacts. They yielded decent results: revenue from the email channel represented 2-4%, according to Google Analytics. These indicators pushed Gardening machines towards developing and automating their email communication.

Problem

Until 2018, nobody was occupied with regularly developing the company’s direct email marketing. A standard service for sending newsletters was used, without any triggers. So, all 30 thousand clients received the same newsletters, for example, a letter with discounts for lawnmower parts. There was no instrument that could help personalize the newsletter and target people who were actually in need of these parts.

In order for the Gardening machines newsletters to become client-oriented, the store’s management selected a personalized email marketing development strategy: save client purchase histories in online and offline and see which items a person viewed on the site. Based on this data, marketers planned to segment the audience and send offers as personalized as possible.

Solution

The Chief Executive Officer selected Mindbox for optimizing email marketing.

Anton Kudryashev Anton Kudryashev,
marketing and pricing manager

«We picked up on Mindbox in the professional community. We really liked the idea of putting everything client-related into one place in order to cleverly react to client needs. Nobody has such a deep and integrated approach in the market».

The following three tasks were put before the platform:

  • Build out a highly personalized and automated email channel so that a buyer can receive relevant and valuable messages.
  • Systemize the collection of email addresses from the site and retail stores.
  • Increase the revenue share from the email channel and improve LTV.

Below we will share with you how we took care of these tasks.

Set up the transfer of client data to Mindbox

In order to build out personalized direct marketing with buyers, it is first necessary to pinpoint their real needs. The first step in achieving that target is to load into Mindbox from 1C, which is where the business kept information on goods, orders, and consumers. The second step would be integrating the site with 1C. We installed a tracker in order to collect any information about buyer behavior: item or category viewing, placing goods in the shopping cart, making an order. 

We systemized data from various sources (the site and 1C), found repeating contacts in the database and combined them into one profile. As a result, Gardening machines gained a base of around 30 thousand unique buyers. Mindbox automatically creates a unified buyer profile which stores personal information and a full history of interaction with the business.

Unified buyer profile
This is the unified buyer profile. All data about clients and their orders is stored here: what was bought, was a promo code used, was the order made online or in the retail store.

Data from the unified profiles help Gardening machine’s marketers build narrow segments based on client purchases and send only newsletters that will surely be of interest. For example, the system can find all buyers of a 60 Volt battery for a specific saw ad send them a letter with links to items that can also be powered by that exact battery: trimmers, leaf blowers, and lawnmowers.

Anton Kudryashev Anton Kudryashev,
marketing and pricing manager

«Mindbox expanded our possibilities in communicating with our clients. We started sending out personalized and relevant letters that were automated. For example, when a client buys a rechargeable lawnmower with a battery in the summer, in the winter we will offer him a snow thrower which will work with the same battery which he already has. Such messages practically never irritate buyers. Which makes us stand out amongst other sellers».

Example of a letter which is sent to a narrow segment of buyers – people that bought a Greenworks 60 Volt battery
Example of a letter which is sent to a narrow segment of buyers – people that bought a Greenworks 60 Volt battery

Set up automatic mailings

We set up a series of long and short term automated mailings for the project so that the business could start communicating with buyers through an email channel. Long term mailings were set up once and work continuously. The goal of these mechanics is pretty standard: bring a person back to the site so he can buy an item that interests him. Example:

  • Abandoned product viewing,
  • Abandoned category viewing,
  • Abandoned shopping cart,
  • A welcome chain when registering in the online store,
  • Recommendation of additions to the purchased item.

In May we helped Gardening machines launch the aforementioned standard mechanics. In seven months, the «Abandoned product viewing» mechanic brought the company 814,5 thousand rubles.

All automated mechanics take into account real buyer interests. Additionally, such mailings are rarely perceived as spam, but are rather considered to be helpful:

Open Rate and Click Rate «Abandoned product viewing» in %

  May June July August September October November
OR 50 50 53 63 64 61 63
CR 13 12,2 13,2 16,2 19,1 13,7 17,8

Open Rate and Click Rate «Abandoned product viewing» in %

  May June July August September October November
OR 62 53 65 62 62 56 64
CR 17,3 14,1 19,4 11,3 25,5 34 25

Shower term automated mailings are referred to in such because they are reconfigured each season. Gardening equipment sees increased demand in Spring and Winter, as its the start of the «dacha» season or snow cleaning time. Things are quiet during the Summer and Fall. In order for midseason revenue to not differ critically from the busy season, Gardening machine’s marketers use supporting action triggers.

Supporting action triggers are built off of previous order and addition recommendations. The preparation process begins with segmenting the audience. Marketers group buyers by purchased items: lawnmowers, electric saw, and average purchase amount.

Then, store managers create a matrix of related products. So for a lawnmower, that would be a leaf blower. For an electric saw – a battery, additional parts, and oil. For each item purchased, another one is selected that will be a perfect complement for the current purchase.

The ability of managers to predict buyer needs for purchases ahead of time and triggered mailings help the business to stay afloat in terms of revenue during the midseason and increase their sales during the high season.

This is an example of a midseason mailing
This is an example of a midseason mailing. A leaf blower buyer is offered to buy a set of nozzles to clean gutters from the trash

Conducted A/B tests for promotional mailings

After the first purchase, clients receive an accumulative discount card. The discount starts at 5. If the total amount of all purchases exceeds 50,000 rubles, the discount increases to 7%.

A few times per season, Gardening machines increase the discount card rate for a specific brand. This promo is announced via email. We ran A/B tests on the subject of promotional mailings.

We compared two options for sharing information on discounts – in words and percentage form:

Subject 1: «Champion week: up to 15% discounts with your discount card».

Subject 2: «Double discounts for all Champion equipment with your discount card».

At the end of the experiment, we made the drew conclusions for future mailing subjects: presenting a double discount is easier than remembering the current rate and calculating the percentage by mind. Gardening machines marketers will use adjectives for future promotional mailings.

Subject A/B test results

Letter subject Open Rate Click Rate
«Champion week: up to 15% discounts with your discount card» 18,36% 2,14%
«Double discounts for all Champion equipment with your discount card» 20,38% 2,76%
 Anton Kudryashev Anton Kudryashev,
marketing and pricing manager

Review

«Mindbox expanded our ability to communicate with clients. Each month we create a few personalized triggers, and these messages practically never irritate buyers, making us stand out from other sellers.

In general, Mindbox solves the tasks for which we integrated it. We actively send messages based on assigned triggers, make general promotional newsletters and brought the share of our email channel to a total revenue of 11% in 7 months of full time operations in a low season. Our goal is to hit 15% during the upcoming season.

We recommend the service to all medium and large online stores that have the resources to implement such an instrument. We especially recommend it to those companies that have high, model-specific purchase frequencies: fashion, cosmetics, e-grocery, children’s goods, etc. With this instrument, we will have a significant competitive advantage and letters that sell».

This success story was prepared by

Marina Pisarenko

Marina PisarenkoProject manager
Maria Vekshina

Maria VekshinaEditor
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