Although sales in the fine jewelry and better watch category declined in 2012, you wouldn’t know it from looking at the ledger of Limoges Jewelry, maker of personalized products such as class and couples’ rings.

Okay, so this online retailer doesn’t hawk fine jewelry, but a 300% increase in revenue and year-over-year (YOY) email sign-up growth of 100-400% and a 99% deliverability rate (you get the idea) is nothing to sneeze at.

Oh, what a difference a vendor makes

Before switching vendors, a majority of Limoges’s email list hadn’t opened or clicked on a message in more than a year. Most of its customers were unengaged, which the company defines as not having opened or clicked on anything in six months.

Not surprisingly, email-generated revenue was also on the skids. Plus, staff were hampered by a clunky email platform that made it difficult to target campaigns to specific customer segments or to customize content.

To top it off, the company’s website runs on a “very old, customized platform,” Jon Ozaksut, former ecommerce marketing manager at Limoges Jewelry, told us last week. (Ozaksut left the company earlier this month but managed the email marketing department during the vendor transition described here.)

The platform has serious limitations. It couldn’t “track things like customer profiles [or] identify a client across channels,” Ozaksut continued.

Anyone who’s ever had to work on the back-end of an outdated website feels his pain, but a quick peek at the company’s home page today captures the front-end misery:

And, folks, it looks like that on mobile.

Email to the rescue

Limoges is still in the process of revamping its site but has moved more quickly with email. Making the jump to a new vendor was the first step, but once Limoges took the leap, improvement was immediate

Suddenly, staff could experiment with showing the email sign-up in more places, such as below the nav bar of every page of the company’s site. (The proportion of those who sign up while visiting the site has increased threefold YOY, by the way.) 

And the team could track where people signed up: on Limoges’s Facebook versus its Twitter page or a product page as opposed to the home page—even during the checkout process. Tracking sign-up was important because the company was seeing dramatic spikes in sign-up growth (the 100% to 400% YOY numbers cited earlier).

Those were critical figures because the new subscribers received Limoges’s welcome email, which data showed was a significant driver of revenue: 18% of the company’s profits derived from the welcome email.

Wait a minute, Mr. Postman

The relationship between open rates and deliverability can’t be overlooked, however. Before the vendor switch, two thirds of Limoges’s email list hadn’t opened or clicked a message in more than a year. Open rates were below 3%, affecting deliverability.

That changed almost immediately when Limoges made the transition. Open rates increased, but, as Ozaksut reminded,

The two big metrics are open and click rate. You can’t only look at open. There are certain email clients that don’t register open as open, so you have to use both metrics.

Deliverability also climbed: from 97% to more than 99%. That may not seem like a big deal, but Limoges’s issues with deliverability weren’t blocks or soft (or hard, for that matter) bounces, which is what marketers typically bemoan in their deliverability-grousing sessions.

No, the difference was “that people were seeing our emails in their inboxes versus their spam folders,” explained Ozaksut. So, despite sending 15m messages between June and December 2012—an almost 38% drop from the 40m emails it sent in the same period the previous year—Limoges saw a 40% growth in conversion.

Put another way, revenue per email went up at least 300% for every month during that time. Limoges also saw a 50% growth in clicks, not click rates.

Said Ozaksut,

You would not expect to get more revenue from sending half as many emails or less than that. The big difference was our deliverability.

1-2-3, allow me

Also key, said Ozaksut, was Limoges’s repermission campaign.

 

The three-step campaign began with a strong offer followed by a second, nonpromotional email asking for the subscriber’s opinion on a product. If that received no response, a third and final message was sent saying that the recipient would receive no further emails unless some kind of action was taken.

The campaign cut nearly two-thirds of the company’s email file but so what? Those customers were unengaged.

The list was replenishing, and almost half of the addresses in the company’s active full file were less than a year old. (Remember Limoges’s healthy email sign-up rate?)

Two ways to look at mobile

According to a report released by digital marketing agency Knotice earlier this year, 41% of commercial emails were opened on mobile devices in the second half of 2012. How did Limoges grapple with that reality in its big email marketing push?

There are two ways of looking at mobile email, said Ozaksut:

  1. Either the email changes when you’re looking at it on a mobile device. (Responsive design, in short.)
  2. Or it’s mobile-acceptable, which is the path Limoges followed. Taking this tack, Ozaksut asked questions such as are the buttons large enough? Can subscribers read all the copy, see everything they need?

The second method is less than ideal, especially with more and more of us opening email on mobile devices, but given Limoges’s success rate (this, despite an ancient web platform), the company will take it. Think what it will enjoy once its site relaunches.