Techniques From the Trenches

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Jack Matarasso is manager of e-mail marketing at J. Crew. He talked about the apparel marketer’s best practices from its New York headquarters.

DIRECT: Tell me about J. Crew’s e-mail program.

MATARASSO: We send out weekly e-mails informing subscribers of our new styles, special sales and new site features, such as the Coat Shop, a mini-site. The e-newsletters provide information at a glance. The goal is to get people onto the site [www.jcrew.com].

DIRECT: How do you collect e-mail addresses?

MATARASSO: We rely solely on J. Crew channels. In the retail stores, there are sign-up cards at the register, and sign-ups are in the catalog and on the Web site, too. Telephone reps also take addresses, but asking for them is never required.

DIRECT: Do you share names?

MATARASSO: We don’t rent, append, buy or sell e-mail addresses. We don’t want to market to anyone through e-mail who hasn’t given us direct permission to do so.

DIRECT: That’s a pretty soft sell.

MATARASSO: We have a much more qualified list because people willingly give us their names.

DIRECT: How finely do you segment?

MATARASSO: Often our segmentation is based on past purchases — the item they purchased, when they purchased it, whether it was purchased from the catalog or the Web site, if they are registered on the site, their overall history and other things.

DIRECT: When did this deliver big for you?

MATARASSO: For a special promotion of men’s pants in small waist sizes, we made sure that only people who had purchased these pants in the past got this message. This group outperformed the control by five times. But remember, niche marketing only works if you’re sending it to the most relevant people in the group.

DIRECT: Do you use that degree of segmentation on your regular weekly e-mail?

MATARASSO: No. If we’re doing a pretty big or general message, it doesn’t need to be split up too much. For example, when we introduce the new swimwear for summer, the e-mail doesn’t have to be as diced as it does for other things. When we get into peak holiday season, we pay a lot more attention to segmentation and personalization.

DIRECT: How much better does personalization do?

MATARASSO: It depends on the promotion, but personalization works.

DIRECT: What else lifts response rates?

MATARASSO: Testing is the best technique. Use test results and continue to test as much as possible and you will lift response rates.

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