Stikwood’s husband-and-wife owners had realized astronomical growth thanks to the company’s sustainable, hand-crafted ethos and innovative product line. Brand engagement was high on social media and within the online customer community, but Stikwood wanted to reach followers and customers via email to boost sales and retention.
Stikwood began with a master woodworker who had a desire to innovate and reduce waste. Jerry McCall had long appreciated the unique look of natural wood, and his projects often featured wood planking, a traditionally labor-intensive and costly endeavor. Armed with 30 years’ experience and an ever-present willingness to try new things, Jerry experimented to come up with an easier, more sustainable solution — and the result was Stikwood.
Stikwood’s permanent authentic wood planking is applied using a peel-and-stick backing that makes installation cost-effective and fast. By using sustainable and reclaimed woods, Stikwood reduces waste and protects the environment. Together with his wife, Laura, an artist and DIY designer, Jerry began developing products in 2010, and in 2012 the couple launched Stikwood’s Web site for direct-to-consumer and direct-to-trade sales. In 2013, Stikwood was selected as Best in Show among the 2,000 contenders at Dwell magazine’s Dwell on Design showcase — and business took off.
Expansion followed, including distribution in West Elm retail stores, but most sales are still transacted through the Stikwood.com Web site. Originally based in California, Stikwood announced expansion into a second manufacturing location in Michigan in 2017.
With rapid expansion came a need to stay connected with Stikwood fans and followers, and to help move DIY enthusiasts and professional designers alike down the purchase funnel, transforming them from researchers to sample buyers to committed customers. Stikwood partnered with Elite SEM in the late spring of 2017 to help shape an email strategy to support the company’s goals and help grow their business.
“Far from subscribers growing weary, we’re seeing increased engagement and much higher revenues than if we’d batch-and-blasted a single discount email to the whole list!” — Stikwood
Balancing Email Offerings to Satisfy Expectations and Drive Sales
When the collaboration began, Stikwood had already established itself with a strong social media following and invited customer content contributions via its e-commerce site. But the brand had messaged email subscribers only sporadically with periodic promotions.
Elite SEM’s strategists and designers helped translate the available content into rich email campaigns that focused on Stikwood’s unique product offering. An initial brand re-introduction email in the early summer featured a “Now Trending” section that highlighted customer projects, and also included a segment from HGTV The Cousins showcasing Stikwood products. The email earned a click-to-open rate of more than 22%.
Elite SEM then helped Stikwood build out an email calendar that significantly boosted cadence and segmentation, while balancing promotional messaging with rich features and decorating ideas as well segmenting by highly targeted audience groups. Elite SEM’s team suggests themes and messaging for content-driven emails; Stikwood’s marketing team sets the schedule for discounts and promotions, with Elite SEM’s strategists suggested best practices for timing and multi-touch implementation.
So far, the increase in frequency and diversified messaging has paid off; overall email revenues in September 2017 increased by 156% compared to the previous year, with the click to delivered rate jumping from 0.13% to 2.22%. Despite significantly increased cadence, the bounce rate decreased by 66% — signaling content is highly relevant to recipients.
Multi-Touch Promotional Strategies Offer Convincing Incentives
Previously Stikwood’s promotional emails were single discount offers. Now, with Elite SEM’s guidance, the company has implemented nuanced strategies that rely on multiple messages and targeted content based on whether subscribers have purchased recently and how recipients respond to the initial email in the series. Since partnering with Elite SEM, Stikwood’s two-, three- and four-touch promotional series have earned 51% of all email revenue.
Targeting non-purchasers for an initial promotion of sample packs was critical to preventing subscriber burnout as the brand ramped up its email calendar. By focusing on subscribers who hadn’t already purchased Stikwood’s products, the two-touch campaign earned an average conversion rate of 8%, which is double the average of their regular marketing campaigns. Crucially, those who responded to the sale could now be considered highly-qualified leads for future promotions, as they’d already invested in samples for use in remodeling planning and were likely buyers of full products. With Elite SEM’s guidance, Stikwood revamped a follow-up campaign targeting this segment, and saw its click-to-open rate jump by a third.
The differentiated content and offers also reaped more revenue, thanks in part to robust earnings from emails later in the campaign’s series. For example, the third and final email in a series promoting a July sale on discontinued items saw a click-to-open rate of more than 33% — 72% higher than the initial send. Revenue per delivery for the final email also outpaced the initial message by five to one.
Zeroing in on Enthusiasts and Abandoners Reaps Rewards
Stepped-up targeting has not only helped boost the productivity of promotional series; it’s also helped Stikwood reach e-commerce site visitors on both ends of the engagement spectrum — the avid followers and those who abandoned a browsing session without purchasing.
By enticing site visitors to sign up for alerts related to new products, Stikwood built a segment of highly-motivated brand followers without the need for sophisticated real-time personalization technology; instead, the segment self-selected with a dedicated email signup form. When those “VIP”s were sent a sneak peek email giving them 24 hours’ advance notice on a new product line, the open rate was a whopping 58%, and conversion was 5.8% — close to 57% higher than when the launch was announced to the general list. Revenue per delivery to the VIP list was 26 times higher than to the general list for the product launch campaigns.
Stikwood had already established a browse abandonment campaign, but on inspection, Elite SEM discovered the trigger wasn’t actually working as it was supposed to. Working with Stikwood’s email service provider, Elite SEM was able to re-activate the campaign, and saw revenues jump astronomically — by close to 190% — while achieving a conversion rate of 40%.