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“We don’t just sell clothes, we sell feelings,” said Rachael Thornton, Head of CRM for Boden, at Movable Ink’s Think Summit in London last month. “That’s what Boden is all about.”

Indeed this is the context for Boden’s mission to scale up personalisation in its CRM campaigns, as the brand strives to send more emails that truly resonate with its customers, while also reaching as many inboxes as possible.

Thornton spoke to Movable Ink CMO Alison Lindland about Boden’s in-house CRM operations, how the brand is approaching the challenge of balancing personalisation and brand, and what it has achieved from the strategy so far.

“Efficiency is a key objective for us”

Email is a large part of Boden’s marketing and comms strategy. Typically, said Thornton, the brand sends around 40 individual campaigns each week across seven markets, with CRM responsible for around 15 to 20% of site traffic.

“An individual womenswear customer, for example, might receive up to seven emails a week. But that’s depending on the trading calendar, the promotional calendar, and then also the level of engagement with the email.”

As you can imagine, we are always looking to increase response while minimising complexity…

With a busy CRM team made up of just seven people, Boden does everything in-house. “That’s everything from planning the email calendar, briefing copy and creative to our internal studio, artwork in all the individual emails and the localised market versions, through to building and then delivering those emails to customers inboxes,” explained Thornton.

Boden’s trigger programs are a particular focus, she continued, but something that takes up a lot of time and effort. “So, for example, if you place your first order, you get set up in Boden’s nursery journey, and [there are] about eight sends within that over a couple of months. And then multiply that across all different markets we operate in.”

“As you can imagine, we are always looking to increase response while minimising complexity, so efficiency is a key objective for us.”

Scaling trigger emails for greater return

Boden’s standard newsletter strategy previously took a ‘one size fits all approach.’ As Thornton explained, this means that “all customers would see the same message. Whether that’s talking about a new-in product launch, a particular product story – knitwear or denim, whatever it might be – and equally, the sale and promo launches.”

Despite not being personalised, Thornton said that these campaigns “make up for that a little bit from the sheer volume of sends.”

But ultimately, she continued, “the revenue per send from these newsletter emails is much lower than that generated from our automated trigger programs.”

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Boden’s trigger programs are typically segmented in relation to the customer’s lifecycle. For example, some emails are designed to lure back lapsed customers, while others aim to trigger a post-purchase journey (based on a previously bought category).

“Because of the relevancy and the timelines, we can actually expect to see an uplift in revenue percentage from trigger emails over non-personalised newsletters of over 100%,” said Thornton. “

One issue, however, is that Boden’s trigger campaigns are of a much smaller volume and scale. Consequently, explained Thornton, “the challenge we set ourselves as a team was: how can we harness the power of personalisation and relevancy from the trigger campaigns, alongside the mass volume of the newsletters, and increase revenue accordingly?”

Personalised emails see a 30% uptick in CVR

Thornton said that the answer has been to create templated email newsletters that also use dynamic content blocks to display more personalised content. For example, these emails often highlight dominant categories, showcasing items from the parts of the catalogue that customers have previously or most often bought.

Interestingly, Thornton said that personalised emails don’t always win on click-through rate. “[But] where we do see the uplift is in conversion,” she said. “So once they’ve clicked through to the site – and obviously this is based on last click – the data is showing us that for a customer clicking through from a personalised email, we get a conversion uplift of around 30% [over non-personalised emails].”

“That makes the emails much more efficient… If we’re looking at the revenue per send metric, we generate a 30% uplift.”

Bringing brand, product and creative teams on the personalisation journey

As well as continuing their CRM personalisation efforts, Thornton said that another aim for her team is “bringing the business along on the journey” – i.e., ensuring that personalisation remains a key focus, alongside telling the story of the product or brand, which is typically what the wider company is keen to push.

“Equally, we know it’s really, really important to show the customer what they’re interested in as well, and not just make the assumption that because we’re talking about denim this week, then that’s what they want to see,” she continued.

“It’s just kind of bringing the brand, and the creative team and the product team along on the journey with us, and really convincing them of the power of personalisation.”

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