[Q&A] Kat Johnson of Allen Edmonds Talks Contextual Marketing & Email

By allowing brands to create dynamic content that can change in real-time, contextual marketing has opened up new opportunities for email marketers to connect with customers and offer them more personalized experiences.

This is how Kat Johnson, Marketing Manager of Allen Edmonds, has started creating new kinds of email campaigns for customers. We had a chance to catch up with Kat about how Allen Edmonds is using email today.

Here’s what she said about Allen Edmonds, context, segmentation, and more:

1. What’s the story of Allen Edmonds? What makes the company special?

Founded in 1922, Allen Edmonds Corporation is a privately held, US-based retailer of premium men’s footwear, apparel, leather goods and accessories with a focus on American manufacturing. Allen Edmonds’ famous Goodyear welted shoes are handcrafted in Port Washington, Wis. using a 212-step production process.

Consistent with the company’s heritage, Allen Edmonds remains committed to providing excellent products at exceptional value for style and quality conscious men worldwide.

By partnering with like-minded U.S. manufacturers, the company’s offering includes men’s clothing and accessory needs from head to toe. Allen Edmonds products are available at premier stores worldwide, including 54 company-owned Allen Edmonds stores across the United States, and online at AllenEdmonds.com. 

2. What role does email marketing play for Allen Edmonds? What have you found to be most effective?

Email Marketing is the corner stone of our communication with our customers. It allows us immediacy of communication including new styles, sales, close outs and most importantly story-telling; both product and brand.

We believe our products are uniquely beautiful as they are made from some of the finest leathers and hand burnished to a rich patina.

Email marketing is a great way to show off the colors and intricacies of our shoes.

3. How have you started using real-time segmentation and contextual marketing to better connect with customers about different offers?

Real-time segmentation and contextual marketing was just something cool at first to spice up our email marketing. But after seeing the results, we found we needed it to keep our customers engaged at the same rate or higher than they were two years ago.

Leveraging simple data points with Movable Ink’s platform gave us the ability to customize that experience for many of our subscribers, making the message more relevant based on location, featured product, timing and refresh content in older emails.

4. What kinds of real-time email campaigns have you found to be most effective? What kinds of results have you seen from those campaigns?

There are so many. Each campaign we have run there has been value and learning. This “continual learning” process leads us to another idea or next step in our segmentation and contextual marketing. Not all are successful, but most are.

Geo-targeted emails have been powerful. Leveraging zip code and IP detection to drive the right message or serve up “store near you” information has helped drive traffic in stores. Creative optimizing and countdown timers have been very impactful during our sale periods by refreshing the content on the fly and creating more of a sense of urgency.

Results have been widespread but all positive. Our best two campaigns are:

a) Weather/Temperature-Targeted Emails

Weather-Targeted Email from Allen Edmonds

We sent weather-targeted emails that offered rain gear for subscribers experiencing weather that was 40 degrees or warmer and winter shoes for those experiencing 40 degrees or lower.

That led to more than a 300% increase in click through rate. 

b) Creative Optimization

Real-Time AB Testing from Allen Edmonds

Creative Optimization gave us the ability to take testing to the next level, allowing us to test multiple types of creative and text to find what drives clicks-in real-time.

At a specific threshold, we locked in the top performing creative for all subscribers, resulting in 114% increase in click through rate.

5. What recommendations do you have for other email marketers when it comes to creating these kinds of campaigns?

Think about the data you already have and get started. Developing campaigns that leverage real-time segmentation and contextual marketing can be easy or it can be very complex. Start off small and build.

If you don’t try, you won’t know how it could perform. Once you get started, strategically plan for these campaigns because they require more creative work and data testing.

Then, track everything for post campaign evaluation!

6. How does customer data play a role here?

Today, we are just scratching the surface on what data is being used. Some basic segmentation is being applied on who and when customers receive messages and then we jump into the contextual marketing and segmentation, leveraging location as our biggest asset.

7. Does Allen Edmonds have any big plans for email marketing campaigns in the near future?

What marketer wouldn’t say they have big plans?

Allen Edmonds has had an aggressive email marketing plan for the last 3 years to support our store and ecommerce businesses.

Our next six months is focused around expanding our content and implementing lifecycle automation to strengthen the customer engagement.

Responsive Email StrategyWant to learn more about responsive email design strategies and why context is critical? Watch our webcast and download our slides, “9 Ways You Can Build Effective Mobile Email Marketing Campaigns” to learn nine different ways brands are using responsive email strategies today. 

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