Archive of ‘Work’ category

MailChimp – Should we stay or should we go?

by

We were recently faced with an email marketing challenge.  Did we need to find a new Email Service Provider?  Here is what we learned while evaluating ESPs and the decision we made.

keywords: ESP, email service providers, review, MailChimp, email marketing, list size, automation, The Marketing Cloud, Sales Force, Exact Target, Bronto, InBox Marketing, What Counts, Get Response, Constant Contact, challenge, tips, learning, ecommerce, retail, POS, email collection

Our MailChimp Challenge
We were faced with an email challenge. For starters, we have used MailChimp since beginning our email marketing efforts four years ago. The vast majority of our email subscribers come from contests we run in social media and through website sign-ups (we offer a 10% online coupon when you sign-up for email). The database isn’t huge but it’s respectable.

So the challenge… In order to remain compliant to CASL anti-spam laws we keep track of exactly how we obtained the person’s email address in a group called “Origin.” So the origin might be “Mother’s day Facebook Contest 2015” or “Website Signup.” However, where we ran into problems was when we hit the maximum of 60 fields in the origin group. Uh-oh! How were we going to keep track of how we obtained people’s email addresses? We decided it was probably time to spread our wings and find a new ESP (Email Service Provider). Also in the back of our minds was the hope of collecting email addresses in our 100+ retail locations. It seemed like a good time to shop around.

New ESPs to Consider
We spent the better part of a week researching what we wanted in a new ESP and which vendors offered what solutions. We examined “The Sales Force Marketing Cloud“, formerly known as “Exact Target.” Our sales representative Adrian, at Bronto also gave us a demo of their ESP offer. Also under consideration was “InBox Marketer,” a local to us full-service marketing company with their own email platform. We briefly looked at “What Counts,” “Get Response,” and “Constant Contact,” too. We quickly learned that there are several different “tiers” of ESPs available from full service marketing agencies to the bare minimum.

Our Main Considerations:

  1. Could we solve our initial challenge that lead us down this road? Could the ESP handle unlimited numbers of “origins”? We quickly learned that all of the other platforms would include this type of data under the user’s profile vs. by having them added to a group. MailChimp appears to be unique in this vain.
  2. Was the creation of email a drag-and-drop method? While we have the capability to code html who knows what the future will hold and drag-and-drop is more user-friendly for everyone, including interns.
  3. What are the automation capabilities? – We want to get into sending “welcome series” emails so we wanted to ensure that any new ESP would include this function.
  4. Would we be able to scale? In the hopefully near future we hope to collect email addresses from customers in our stores at the point of purchase. Would the ESP be able to handle this extra data (e.g. what store we collected their email address from) and could we segment email campaigns based on their originating store?
  5. Cost considerations

A New ESP?
So the search began! We spent a week listening to sales pitches from the aforementioned companies and watching demos of the software each ESP was peddling. We got quotes and we considered some of them. Quickly we realized that all of the other ESPs could do #1, #2, and #3 on our wish-list; these were very standard. So it did not become a conversation about drag-and-drop, automation, and unique user fields. Rather, it became a conversation about scalability (#4) and cost (#5).   How big did we need to go and how much was it going to cost?

Flat Rate by # of Subs vs. Pay Per Send
I found it really surprising that most of the “big folks” in the ESP game do charge you per send.   For SalesForce (Marketing Cloud/Exact Target), InboxMarketer, and Bronto you had to pay BOTH a “licensing-usage fee” AND pay per send. Double whammy! I guess that’s how they make their money and make a great platform. But do we really need to pay twice for one service? Do we need to go with one of the BIG vendors?

What we Learned
Paying per send really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Why am I being penalized for growing my list? That IS my job to grow the list. But the bigger I grow it the more it’s going to cost me. I don’t like that. However, it did make me re-evaluate the metrics of “list size.” Is list-size really a good measurement? Probably not.   I used the segmentation option in MailChimp to discover that over half of our email list hasn’t opened any of the last 20 campaigns we have sent. A good number of those emails are probably being sent to dead email addresses that no-one even opens any more. So we pruned our list by deleting everyone who hadn’t opened our last 50 emails. Of course, it cut down the list size dramatically and we’re only now seeing the positive impact that’s having on other key (more important) metrics such as open rates and click rates (see here). So through the process of hating the idea of paying an ESP per send, we were actually able to clean our list up and dump the ‘dead weight.’ It was painful to lose a huge chunk of the list but in the end it was the right decision and gives us better measures of our list’s actual success.

The most impressbronto_automationive demo was given to us by Bronto – their visual on how to do automation blew our socks off (Just look at it!) However, it came with a VERY hefty price-tag that was far too high for us to even consider at this point. Sorry Bronto. 🙁

Upon discussions with our IT group the feeling was that we are month (or more) away from being able to collect email addresses at the POS in-store. So maybe that “robustness” we were looking for isn’t necessary yet? Why pay for advanced features NOW when we won’t need them for months down the road?

mc_automation

 

Stay with MailChimp?
During this research phase we did start poking around more in MailChimp and although we see the ‘tab’ every time we’re logged in we’ve never explored the “Automation” capabilities of MailChimp. There is also this “eCommerce 360” option that we had never explored. Apparently we can bring our online sales data into MailChimp which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities with personalized email marketing.

So the idea struck me that perhaps instead of changing ESPs we need to better utilize the features that are available to us in the platform that is already working for us.

Challenge Met?
But that pesky challenge, the limit of 60 fields for our origin, still had to be solved. Would we somehow add this data to the user’s profile instead of having it associated with their group? It didn’t seem that possible in the user interface. Could we somehow group more of the origins together (e.g. Mothers Day AND Father’s day contest entries together?) to free up some of the 60 spaces? This was a very short-term solution. But a solution was found! We decided upon exporting the entire list, including all the origin data to save for our reference if we the CASL police ever want to know where we got someone’s email address from. Then we added just one origin to reference the excel file export that contained the actual origin information. Then added everyone from the contests etc. to the excel export reference origin. This way we still have a record for the CASL police AND we can continue to use MailChimp for the time being.

The Future
Do we think MailChimp will be able to hold the extra info required when we start to collect email addresses in-store? Probably not. Even setting up “Store” as a group we’ll be limited to 60 stores and we have over 100 locations, so no, that will not work. However, as mentioned, we are months away from being able to add emails at store-level so we don’t need to worry about collecting store emails until we’re ready to actually do it. When that day comes we’ll have to begin at square one again and start researching more robust ESPs to see who can give us the best value for the money.

New Focus
We will now focus on using MailChimp to its fullest potential. We commit to keeping our list “clean” (removing dead weight regularly). The plan is to setup some automation – a series of “welcome emails” to introduce new subscribes to our list.   Hopefully we can change our sign-up button on our website to also include a pop-up when you first enter the site – we learned that that has great success rates – and of course it does, EVERY SITE is doing it now; this will help us grow our list while we wait for in-store email collection. We will start using the “birthday” field to send offers to people on their birthday. AND we will look into getting eCommerce 360 setup so we can feed our web sales data into MailChimp and make a plan for how to better connect with our paying customers. In short, we will use more of the features of MailChimp and work to personalize the experience for our email subscribers before we put on our big boy pants and join the big guys, like Bronto, and the like.

mailchimpImage

Find the Right Gift Fit For Everyone On Your List

by

rightgifts

With the holidays upon us, shoppers everywhere are once again agonizing over what to get their family and friends. While holiday shopping once consisted of a necktie for Dad, a comfy robe for Mom and some toys for the kids, today’s holiday shopping list is much more complicated than that.  What gifts to buy people is certainly a #FirstWorldProblem!

Each and every family or circle of friends has its own unique identity, and each member within those groups is his or her own individual. For those with a holiday shopping list on which no two people are the same, consider the following gift ideas to ensure everyone on your list enjoys a happy holiday season.

The Techie

What do you get your gadget-obsessed friend or relative this year?  Oftentimes, when it comes to gifting a tech-savvy relative, it helps to go with something new. Technology is ever-changing so don’t fall behind the times.  Check out the latest in tech gift ideas from Tom’s Guide.  I’ll take the Apple Watch, please.

The Pet Lover

Subscriptions are SO popular right now.  For someone who loves cats or dogs – check out BarkBox and for cat lovers, check out CatLadyBox or CatNipBox.

We offer a few cute gifts for pet lovers too.  Consider these:

023330

Cat with Bell Ornament

018694

Good Kisser Pet Tag

023337

Cat Photo Ornament

The Busy Woman On-the-Go

Today’s woman is busier and more on-the-go than ever before. And “Fit Bits,” or similar activity trackers, are on point. People become obsessed with keeping track of their steps-per-day, the activity, and even their sleep patterns on these little devices that can be worn 24-7.  Check out the designs and options of the most popular brand: Fit Bit.

The Wine Lover

Few hobbies taste as good as developing an affinity and knowledge of the wines of the world. With their masses growing, wine connoisseurs have now infiltrated families everywhere. This holiday season, you could give your wine loving family or friend a gift certificate to a “make-your-wine” place.  An LCBO gift-card is always a great option which would pair nicely with an engraved set of wine glasses!  AND a wine lovers Christmas ornament – sounds like a great wine-themed gift basket in the making!

Stemless Wine Glass - 15oz

Stemless Wine Glass – 15oz

Wine Glass with Cork Ornament

Wine Glass with Cork Ornament

Wine Bottle Label

Wine Bottle Label

The Foodie

Everyone is a food critic but some people are serious at-home chefs. Maybe you know one?  What do you get the chef-de-cuisine foodie gourmand?  Do they need another recipe book?  Probably not!  Don’t we all get our recipes from Pinterest now anyway?  What about some fun kitchen gadgets?!? Things that no everyone has, unique items like a spiral slicer or a micoplane.  These are not essential kitchen tools but they can make cooking even more fun for the foodie!  Get some more inspiration from Amazon here.


Customers and Clients

Of course, no holiday shopping list is complete without customers and clients. The holiday season is a time for businesses to show just how much they appreciate their customers and clients, and how much they look forward to working with them in the year ahead.

A popular option if you run your own business or have regular clients who you want to recognize during the holidays season, is gift basket.  Some local cheese shop or chocolate stores will put together gift baskets at various price-points full of goodies that you can then deliver to your clients during the holiday season.  That’s a good way to recognize their support throughout the year.  We offer a few options that can be personalized for your special clients.  Here are three top ideas:

Cross "Coventry" Pen & Pencil Set

Cross “Coventry” Pen & Pencil Set

Stainless Steel Gun Metal Card Case

Stainless Steel Gun Metal Card Case

Chrome Compass in Black Presentation Box

Chrome Compass in Black Presentation Box

When it comes to holiday shopping, finding the right fit is never as easy as it should be. But when steered in the right direction, holiday shoppers can ensure the important people in their lives remember this holiday season for years to come.  We’re here to help.  Contact us today (in store or online) and we’ll help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

From your Things Engraved Social Team,

Things Engraved Social

Trish Celebrates 25 Years with Things Engraved

by

25TrishThings Engraved would like to recognize Trish Dietrich for 25 years of service and commitment to the company!  Trish celebrates her 25th anniversary on August 20, 2015 and so she started at the company back in 1990.  Trish was hired directly out of college, where she completed a marketing diploma.  Her first role for us was as a marketing assistant for “House of Knives.”  House of Knives was a sister company of Things Engraved and the two companies amalgamated soon after Trish started.  Trish remembers the early days working here where there was a lot of support staff as everything had to be done on type-writers and they had staff dedicated to typing up memos!  How things have changed!  Now everything is done through emails that we write ourselves! 🙂

Trish quickly moved from a marketing assistant role into a buying role where she started buying products for Things Engraved and House of Knives.  Trish even met her sweetheart here.  Dean worked in the warehouse and the two of them co-planned several inter-company baseball games.  They dated for a few years and they were married in 1994.  Dean left the company a couple of years after they married and Trish moved into a merchandising role following the birth of their first child.  Recently, Trish has been straddling both buying and merchandising departments and is enjoying the extra challenges and growth.

Over the years, organizing social events and Christmas parties has been a highlight of Trish’s experience with Things Engraved.  She feels these social events have helped people work better together on a daily basis.  Trish says the best part about working here is the size of the company.

I really like that it’s a big enough company to matter but it’s a small enough company that you can still start a project and see it through to completion.  I like being involved in all the aspects of seeing a new product be designed, manufactured, merchandised into stores, and being sold to happy customers. At larger companies you don’t get to be involved in all these aspects so I really like the size of our company.

Trish brings a tonne of experience (25 years!) to our head office team.  She’s very familiar with past products; in fact you could say she’s kind of the product encyclopedia around here!  Trish is friendly and always welcoming to new-comers.  We are lucky to have such a loyal and caring employee working for us and we Thank You Trish for your years of dedication to our company.

TYTrish

1 2 3 4 9