Centralized Data Hub Puts Dr. Martens in Step

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

 Pete Townshend was one of the first rock stars to wear Dr. Martens.
Pete Townshend was one of the first rock stars to wear Dr. Martens.

A centralized database has helped Dr. Martens create more targeted messaging for footwear customers across multiple channels.

The iconic Dr. Martens boots were born in England in April 1960, originally designed for factory workers who needed protective gear. The utilitarian footwear was then adopted by rock stars in the late sixties like The Who’s Pete Townshend.

“Thankfully, he loved to jump, so a pair of Dr. Martens were in every picture of him,” said Kyle Duford, global vice president of digital, Dr. Martens, who spoke at the recent MarTech conference in San Francisco.

Music became inextricable to the brand’s DNA, and Docs became a force of self-expression.

“One of the greatest things is that when you wear a pair of Dr. Martens, you feel empowered,” he said. “You feel like you can do anything.”

Still, even for a brand with such a strong identity, it is hard to break through.

“Today, everyone is competing. It’s just noise,” said Duford. “Everyone is on their phone all day. Everyone is trying to cut through and connect. A brand like us that is about authenticity cannot just treat people like clicks.”

Personalized, authentic marketing that was at the right place, at the right time, was the route Dr. Martens choose.

“You need to know your tribe, and personalize the experience, engaging on channels that work for them, not you,” he said.

This means knowing who you are talking to—for example, a businessman who wore Docs 20 years ago and wants a new pair to look fashionable probably doesn’t want to see ads for the flowered Chelsea style suitable for young girls.

The brand’s target demographic is pretty large, ages seven to 70. Duford said he’s proud of that wide range, but it makes it hard to identify whom Dr. Martens is speaking to at any given time.

Dr. Martens worked with Lytics to create a centralized, real-time data hub, to map data and build progressive profiles of their customers.

The brand has been able to test how data impacts communications, realizing that small changes can have a bit impact. For example, just putting customer names in email subject lines and email text doubled open rates

 Customers who had shown an affinity with Dr. Martens' museum collections received messaging related to the recent "George and the Dragon" collection.
Customers who had shown an affinity with Dr. Martens’ museum collections received messaging related to the recent “George and the Dragon” collection.

Dr. Martens also looked at affinities it could connect with products. Messaging was created for customers than had shown an affinity for veganism, pitching them offers on vegan leather products. Those who had shown an affinity for the company’s museum collection were shown offers for the “George and the Dragon” limited edition satchel. Recent leather shoe purchasers were given offers for a shoe care kit to help break in and protect their purchases.

A ribbon at the bottom of webpages was used to suggest the “George” offer, resulting in a 60% higher conversion for these customers, with a 20% higher average order.

The brand is also utilizing lookalike modeling to achieve a smarter ad spend, to reach individuals with retargeting that act like customers and are likely to buy. It is also using a CloudEngage platform to tap into location and weather data. When and where users view an ad determines the type of messaging they see—those in colder climates see boots, while prospects in a warm, sunny locale might see sandals or sneakers (yes, Dr. Martens makes both of those too).

The centralized database also enables Dr. Martens to control what messages a customer see in their buying cycle. For example, if you’ve purchased a pair of boots this week and haven’t even gotten your confirmation email yet, you’re not going to be hit with a series of prospecting offers.

“It’s more important to me that you have a great brand experience today than whether you purchase [today],” said Duford. “Our brand isn’t going anywhere.”

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