Smart Marketing Helps Plus-Size Retailer Grow

By James Maguire | Posted September 07, 2005

In the mid '90s, entrepreneur Anne Kelly saw that larger women were having a hard time finding attractive and well-made sports clothing. To meet their needs, Kelly founded Junonia, a company that describes its apparel line as "exclusively devoted to the 40 percent of American women who wear a size 14 and up."

Launched as a catalog-only business, the St. Paul, Minneapolis-based Junonia sends out six million catalogs a year. But since going online in 1999, half of its sales now flow through its online store.

On the way to becoming a successful e-tailer, Junonia has learned how to reach its online audience — particularly through e-mail marketing.

The company uses e-mail much more aggressively than it used to. "We were doing four-to-five e-mailings a month; now we do twice a week," says Tom Lindmeier, Junonia's e-commerce director.

"That's a lot of e-mails," Lindmeier concedes. But, as the company knows from its catalog business — it sends out 18, 56-page catalogs a year — if the content is good, customers don't mind the frequency. The trick is to provide the right mix of discount offers and product highlights, he says. And, "We treat our e-mail customers as preferred customers."

Getting Customers to Love E-mail Marketing
When Junonia started sending e-mails twice a week, it encountered some resistance from customers. But it has an ingenious technique to keep its shoppers on its mailing list.

"Before they hit the opt-out button, we say 'click here, and you can decrease the number of e-mails by 50 percent,'" Lindmeier says.

After using A/B testing heavily, the site retained much of its e-mail list. Particularly effective: Junonia often liquidates merchandise, so it sells some items at fire sale prices. These discount offers keep shoppers interested.

Customers "love bargains — they want to know what kind of deals we have," Lindmeier says.

Also important: the e-mails, no matter how frequent, maintain a "voice," a friendly, conversational tone. The mailings (and all the site's marketing) put the image of Anne Kelly in the forefront, stressing her accessibility.

"We always attach a letter from Anne," Lindmeier says, noting that the site never uses the "buy now" style of marketing.

"You have to think of the marketplace — and all of the noise out there — and find a way to get through it," he says.

Catalog-Web Synergy
"We work very hard at providing a synergy between the catalog and the Web site," Lindmeier says. Junonia schedules its e-mail campaigns and its catalog mailings to compliment each other.

Junonia creates Web-catalog synergy by printing a six-digit order number in the catalog. "If you enter the style number [at the site] it will bring you directly to the shopping cart, and the shopping cart shows an image of the item — it decreases the number of clicks, to make shopping efficient," Lindmeier says.

In its catalog business, Junonia uses a RFM formula (reach, frequency, and monetary) to determine which of its customers will be sent catalogs — it's too costly to send each mailing to every customer.


Loading...
Junonia has succeeded by pursuing an underserved market and by savvy print-and-e-mail marketing.

But the site doesn't need to use this formula for its e-mail marketing. As Lindmeier says, stating one of the great truths of businesses that combine a print catalog with e-commerce: "Catalogs are very expensive to send out, but e-mail costs almost nothing."

Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com, part of internet.com's Small Business Channel.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

Comment and Contribute


     

    Get free tips, news and advice on how to make technology work harder for your business.

    Submit
    Learn more
     
    You have successfuly registered to
    Enterprise Apps Daily Newsletter
    Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date