Luxury product marketers tread carefully when it comes to selling their wares. They often eschew coupons and deep discounts, and they work hard to protect the brand’s reputation and exclusivity in the marketplace.
As they choose commerce marketing tools and strategies, marketers for luxury brands know they must keep a careful eye on how the approach affects the kind of customers they want to attract and retain. With that in mind, let’s look at how three brands are reaching luxury customers with help from email and SMS.
Don’t Fear the Pop-Up
New York-based ABC Carpet & Home sells beautiful modern-inspired furniture at several stores in the New York area and one in Florida. Their products include couches that look like they came straight from the set of Mad Men, organic bedding, even essential oils. The company will give you everything you need to create what it describes in its mission statement as “the actualization of home as the sacred space.”
So it’s not surprising then that Director of Advertising Frank Vigliarolo received a tremendous amount of push-back when he suggested a pop-up sign-up to encourage visitors to subscribe to the brand’s emails. He shared with the audience at Bronto City Tour last year that he was told, “We can’t have a pop-up, it’s a luxury brand.” But Vigliarolo persevered, and the result was a five-fold increase in list size over two years.
ABC’s pop-up is not typical. It doesn’t come up right away, and it’s small – measuring about two inches square on a laptop. You can easily see the beautiful hero image sitting behind it. And the pop-up itself is so very polite and gentle in its request (“be inspired, join our community, receive 10% off your next purchase.”), like the subtle sound of wind chimes vs. the car horn-style blare of some others.
Texting the Loyal and Devoted
Greats is another New York-based brand that features handmade leather sneakers made in Italy. The company has no brick-and-mortar stores and sells direct to consumers. It releases new styles, or variations on current styles, every week. A typical pair of Greats costs $159.
Along with email, Greats started an SMS program that sends messages about once a week, focusing on new arrivals and out-of-stock items that are back in stock. “There is much more engagement with the SMS list. It’s clear that those who sign up for an SMS from us really want to hear from us,’’ explains Email Marketing Manager Chris Berry. “A simple text will drive 10x more traffic to our site over mass emails.”
Berry can segment on purchase history to trigger a message to people who wear a size 10 if a particular style is back in stock in that size. “It’s very easy to do segmentation, dynamic content and tests.”
Berry believes text is more relevant to Millennials who tend to use email less often. “It’s about how to reach people where they are the most engaged.’’ But he doesn’t think email is losing relevance. “SMS isn’t going to overtake email anytime soon. SMS is only for people who are very, very engaged with your brand.’’
Want a Wine Cellar With That Corkscrew?
IWA Wine Accessories sells a broad range of wine-related accessories. While some of its products are pretty straightforward – corkscrews, stemware and decanters – it also offers custom-designed wine cellars. IWA hosts a design center on its website and works with customers for what can take up to a year to design and outfit a wine cellar. The company is based in Petaluma, Calif., in the heart of wine country. It owns the Le Cache, Cellar Pro, Winekeeper and BILD brands.
For IWA President Ben Argov, email plays a traditional B2C role, alerting customers to new products and closeouts. But it also acts as a kind of B2B lead generation pipeline. Having his email platform synced to his ecommerce platform allows him to use email for both purposes.
A key consideration is how to deploy IWA’s small staff of salespeople. “If you’ve ever gone through the process of selecting kitchen cabinets, you’ll understand what it is like to create a wine cellar. You can buy components off the web, but if you want something semi-custom or custom, you need to talk with someone who is familiar with the entire process,’’ Argov explains.
To figure out who those people might be, the company tracks which recipients of its emails click on URLs for items such as refrigeration or shelving – the products associated with wine cellar design. Those click-throughs are matched against a list of people who’ve emailed or phoned asking for more information. The list of matches gives the sales team a great reason to follow up.
“We’ve set up drip campaigns to help our salesmen work smarter and be more efficient. In the past, after the salesmen sent an email to the customer, they had to create a manual reminder to follow up. This way, the list of customers who receive a follow-up call is automatic,” Argov says. His staff looks at what customers are responding to as well. If they bought after getting a free shipping email, that might be part of the sales pitch. “We’re helping our staff be smart about how and where they are spending their time. We want them to differentiate between $10 and $10,000 opportunities and allocate their time accordingly.’’