Courtney Eckerle

Crawl, Walk, Run: How Ferguson began customer-centric email habits to generate over $21 million in online revenue

September 4th, 2015

I’ve interviewed around 500 marketers since I started as a reporter at MarketingSherpa. Looking back, most of those conversations are inevitably a bit of a blur, but it’s marketers like Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist, Ferguson Enterprises, that truly stand out.

Mary was a first-time attendee at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, and took back what she learned to her office and implemented a transformative, customer-centric campaign that led to her winning Best in Show at Email Summit 2015.

“I learned a lot at Email Summit last year, and coming back [to the office], I felt like we were in an okay place, but we had a lot of room to grow,” she said, explaining that the team began taking steps to refuel their database.

When the team began making changes to view the email program as a whole enterprise, they took what Mary referred to as the “crawl, walk, run approach,” which is where they started off small and went back to optimize later.

The first thing to know when it comes to email relevancy is: there is no email that fits your entire list.

Marketers get requests all the time from different teams and interests to send out an email, and it’s up to the email marketing team to be the stopgap for what goes out to customers.

“Not only does no email fit well to our entire database … maybe in the short term they would see an incremental sales lift, but in the long term that would not fare well with our customer database,” she said.

The journey the marketers at Ferguson took consisted of three steps, as detailed in the full video, but the most critical was learning about their customer. If they had not asked — and answered — some critical questions, the rest of the campaign would not have been possible.

This full campaign was applied to their national traveling trade show, Ferguson Rewards. It travels to more than 90 cities, and is a measurable campaign that could also see ripple effects throughout the whole database.


Learn about your customer and how to communicate with them

Like the best customer-centric campaigns, Mary and her team began by asking, “Who is our customer?”

In asking this, the team realized something very important — they were not their customers. Just because they, as marketers, were on social media or communicating in a certain way didn’t mean that their customers — consisting mostly of plumbers — would be as well.

“We nailed it down to three core things that marry our customers in our online and offline space,” Mary said, adding that marketers can “personalize and segment all day long, but what are those three things that you cannot live without in your digital space?”

Mary and her team broke customers down into 14 different segments, all varying greatly in the way they do business with Ferguson, as exampled in average order size, which could be from $11.88 to $4,082.82.

“We really had to change this year how we collected that customer provided data … and start to act on it with relevant communications,” Mary said.

By answering these questions, the Ferguson team was able to deliver rich, tailored content and offers, and alternately provide real-time data to partners and sales reps — creating 92 automated campaigns in 12 months. By understanding customers, Ferguson was able to drive 486 in ecommerce conversions.

“A lot of customers, they don’t really want to part ways with their information. Make them realize why you want their information. That you’re going to follow up with relevant emails,” she said.


You can follow Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter at @CourtneyEckerle.


You might also like

MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24

How Ferguson Enterprises Generated Over $10 Million in Online Revenue by Enriching Its Customer Experience [from MarketingSherpa]

Customer-centric Marketing: SAP drives $100 million in revenue influence with customer webcasts [from MarketingSherpa]

Courtney Eckerle

About Courtney Eckerle

With a focus on aspirational, customer-first marketing, Courtney’s goal has been to produce clear, interesting and actionable external content for MarketingSherpa readers. This has included writing over 300 case studies, moderating live event interviews, and producing video content. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Mass Communications and Film Studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was a correspondent for USA Today College prior to joining MECLABS Institute.

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , ,

  1. September 10th, 2015 at 05:40 | #1

    I loved reading this article – who is our customer? Do we really know?!

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