Silverpop - Five Questions: Louise James of VIE at home
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Five Questions: Louise James of VIE at home

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by: Karen Marchione (@kmarchione)
07 March 2011

For this month's Silverpop client interview, we are speaking with Louise James, E-commerce Marketing Manager, at VIE at home. VIE at home is an award-winning skin care, makeup, and bath and body products online retailer based in the UK. The company’s philosophy remains the same as it was when it originally launched in 1997 (under its previous name Virgin VIE at home): premium products at affordable prices that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.

VIE at home has a small marketing team and so is always trying to find new ways to drive ROI without adding significantly more time to the team’s workload. That being said, VIE at home has managed to create a successful and engaging email program that makes its brand shine through. Meanwhile, by constantly innovating its program, VIE at home has seen benefits upwards of 200x ROI.

1) Louise, so glad you could join us on our blog. To help us get to know VIE at homea little better, if you could describe your brand in three words, what would you choose?   Louise James, E-Commerce Marketing Manager, VIE at Home

Feminine, Fun and Premium

2) In your emails, you tend to inject a lot of personality and imagery. Was this an approach you took since you initially launched your email program, or was it something you learned to do over time?

We’ve always been confident about our tone of voice and what our brand represents to our Customers.  They’re looking for premium products, without a premium price tag and email marketing allows us to conveniently communicate fun, punchy messages which support our core brand values.

Our style of email marketing has definitely developed since we first started using Silverpop in 2007.  We’ve moved away from a more lengthy newsletter approach and today our email communications are more focused on key offers and drivers for the season.   This in turn has had an impact on the other customer communications we produce as a business, in particular our Catalogue, where we take the learnings from email marketing and apply them to the style of language and offers available.

We also find email marketing very beneficial in enhancing the  customer experience with the brand.  Post purchase emails offering hints and tips on how to make the most of their purchase work really well, in particular our post purchase email for Mineral Foundation Make Up which includes a video showing how to make the most of their foundation, and how to apply like an expert.

3) VIE at home uses many different triggered emails to communicate with you customers.  What made you decide to implement triggered emails? Can you give us an overview of the types of triggered emails you send?

Because of the nature of our business (Make Up and Skin Care) sending triggered emails was a very logical step for us.  Encouraging repeat purchase is key and email marketing is a convenient way of sending out a gentle reminder that maybe they need to think about a replacement.  Typically we send out emails 6-8 weeks post purchase asking the Customer if it’s time for a new skin care/make up product.  We’ve had really positive repeat purchase from this, as well as some great anecdotal feedback.

Customer reviews are a feature on our website too and the perfect way to encourage customers new to the brand to try our products.  We always follow up any purchase with a ‘come and review your product’ email.  Our number one bestseller One Step Face Base currently stands at an incredible 647 reviews, with 4.8 stars out of 5!

4) What benefits have you seen with triggered emails? refill

From a purely financial point of view, the triggered emails offer us a much better return on investment over our normal weekly sales email.  For example, for every £1 we spend on abandoned shopping basket emails, we get approximately £250 back in sales.

This is also a great way for us to maintain a closer relationship with the client … we’ve had some great feedback from Customers regarding our re-purchase reminder email, including one lady on twitter who’s convinced we’re psychic!

Finally as a relatively small E-commerce team, we all find it much more rewarding to be able to develop a targeted marketing programme, that gives the Customer a more personal experience with VIE at home.

5) Not only is VIE at home an online retailer for consumers but you also have a B2B side of your business where you focus on party hosting.  Is there a difference in how you communicate with both audiences?

We have approximately 8000 Consultants in the UK who sell our products in a home party environment.  Tiered at different levels based on experience and performance within the Company, email marketing allows us to effectively segment our Consultants and target them appropriately.

In terms of communication style, we still need to enforce the core brand values and many of the messages are based on sales opportunities that they in turn pass on to our customers.

We also feel that through email marketing, we can communicate key business messages in a more fun and interactive way which is not always possible through other more traditional methods.

Thanks Louise for your insights!


If you like more details about their email program, check out the VIE at home case study.


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