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5 Questions: Carey Marston of SmartPak Equine

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by: Karen Marchione (@kmarchione)
27 March 2012

This month, I’m pleased to have Carey Marston from SmartPak Equine appear on our “5 Questions” blog. Carey has been an employee of SmartPak Equine since 2005 and is currently its email marketing manager. She handles the daily responsibilities of all thing email, working closely with the email designer/developer and business owners to send the right messages to the right segments.

Carey knows her target market—fellow equestrians. She has been an equestrian since she was about 7 years old and rode throughout her entire childhood and while she attended UCONN. When she found SmartPak right after college, she knew it was a great fit—working in the animal industry and utilizing her Animal Science degree, but also learning marketing in a more corporate environment.

1) Much of SmartPak’s program is dedicated to lifecycle messages. What types of lifecycle messages are you sending today? How did you get started?

[caption id="attachment_3684" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Carey Marston, email marketing manager, SmartPak Equine"][/caption]

SmartPak is currently sending order reminder, abandoned cart, rate and review, win back and on- hold reactivation emails to name a few. We also send transactional messages such as order confirmations, shipment confirmations, password recovery, etc. We began by analyzing the current business goals and which emails would be the most pivotal in driving the response we wanted to grow the business. We started with one email at a time and rolled each out based on the timing we thought made sense. We’re always tweaking copy and timing.

2) I can imagine that putting together a lifecycle email program took a lot of effort. How did you convince your management that it was a good investment for SmartPak?

When I joined the Web team, we already had a handful of automated emails in place, but they were sent from our internal system, took lots of effort to update and lacked reporting tools. As I started to learn more about our email program, I discovered the need to have our promotional (blast) emails and our automated messages on the same email platform to be able to measure response, track sales and determine who was actually getting which emails. Not having this information was a sore spot when it came to reporting on the automated messages we already had in place, and luckily, it was pretty easy to convince management that the entire email program needed to be more in the hands of marketing versus IT.

3) What was the “aha” moment when you realized that your program was taking off?

That moment occurred when our program started growing 40 percent year over year and our opt-outs were remaining consistently low.

4) How have you used customer reviews within your program?

We do incorporate reviews into our emails, as well as the majority of our marketing mediums. We started by testing the incorporation of reviews in product grids within our promotional emails. Since we know, and many studies have already been done, that user-generated content can increase sales and customer trust in your company and products, it seemed like a logical move to continue incorporating customer reviews into as many of our emails as possible. We also send a handful of promotional emails targeted at a customer’s riding discipline oriented around “Top 10 Products Rated by Riders Like You,” pulling in the highest-rated products based on other reviewers’ disciplines similar to the email recipient’s, so they are very targeted.

5) You recently presented at the Email Evolution Conference. Would you recommend the conference to other email marketers? What was the best question an attendee asked after your presentation?

I would definitely recommend the eec to other marketers. I thought there was a vast amount of information, and I walked away with a lot of ideas. I also had a lot of opportunities to connect with marketers like myself.

One of the most common questions we got was how we made all our automated messages happen. How much work did it take to get started? How did we deal with all the data? My one piece of advice was that we had a plan going into it and that made all the difference. Try not to get overwhelmed with the amount of data you have available and start small. They don’t all get built in one day.

For more insights from Carey, check out “How SmartPak Equine Uses Lifecycle Emails to Engage Customer Every Step of the Way,” her joint presentation with Loren McDonald, Silverpop’s vice president of industry relations, at the Email Evolution Conference:

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