Reminder Emails Boost 1-800-Flowers Sales

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Since birthdays comprise 50% of their orders, doesn't have to do dedicated email blasts to get folks to commemorate the days their loved ones arrived.

To an extent, while they do run holiday promotions, the same goes for the top flower giving times like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day or that December holiday you may have heard is approaching, Christmas. But the company is making heavy use of email reminders to encourage blooms as gifts for every occasion.

When customers place an order, they are invited to enter reminders for up to 175 different occasions they'd like to remember, says Lisa Henrikson, vice president, retention and customer experience, 1-800-Flowers. "People even put in their orthodontist appointments," she says with a laugh. "And we send them."

1-800-Flowers also uses banner placements throughout emails to boost sales for other occasions, such as celebrating a new baby. Simple, primarily text, email "deals of the week" are also regularly sent to subscribers.

The company has 175 retail franchises, and receives over 7 million orders annually. Eighty-percent of the company's direct orders are placed online, with the remaining 20% by phone.

While half of the company's orders are to commemorate birthdays, the company is looking for ways to better take advantage of other milestones throughout the year that customers would use to give flowers.

"We're not as integrated as we should be," notes Henrickson, who spoke at this fall's DMA:2011 conference in Boston.

When people buy for birthdays, their overall retention rates triple for the company. This means it makes sense for 1-800-Flowers to entice those who purchased for other occasions to buy for birthdays as well.

Incentives—such as 15% off sitewide—are offered in emails, and lifestyle data is appended with the help of Epsilon to the company's file to get a better picture of what events might trigger purchases.

The company also takes note of card messages to get a picture of customers' buying patterns. This can help them bucket customers into categories like "just getting started," "singled out," "family," "active seniors" or "road to retirement."

For families, the moms are usually the ones placing orders. For retirees, the orders are higher than one might expect, she notes.

The company is also using social integration, allowing shoppers to sign in to the website via Facebook or join their email list via the network.

Fans who "like" the 1-800-Flowers page are greeted with an opportunity to get a 20% discount on their next order using a Mastercard and access to flash sales.

The company has also done social partnerships with celebrities like Nicki Minaj, offering co-branded arrangements in pink color schemes that would go perfectly with the singer's cotton candy hued hair.

The most successful social partnership so far has been with Justin Bieber, targeting not only the young singer's fans but the ones with the money, their moms.

While the conversion rate for visitors to the "One Less Lonely Girl" bouquet site page isn't that high—around 4%—the partnership is great PR. "And I suspect that he's responsible for the 40% of email opt-ins that don't convert, but that's okay," says Henrikson.

The arrangement—red roses in a clear vase shipped with Bieber's "Under the Mistletoe" CD for the holidays—may eventually be rolled out to franchise stores.



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