Annie Selke Uses Offline Tactics to Drive Online Buyers

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Brand: Annie Selke
Headquarters: Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Vendor: 4Cite
Bottom Line: Lifecycle marketing is helping high-end brands connect with customers at every stage of the purchasing process.

Shoppers have grown more accustomed to buying high-ticket items online, but pulling the trigger on a $5,000 Annie Selke sofa isn’t something most people will do on a whim. That expanded timeline between when shoppers first start researching furniture and when they finally make the decision to buy is one of the reasons why the Annie Selke furnishings brand has adopted its offline-to-online marketing approach.

The high-end furnishings brand uses direct mail catalogs and flyers to tell the company’s story, before ultimately driving most shoppers online to complete their transactions, explains Cindy Marshall, chief marketing officer for the Massachusetts-based brand.

“Our product line is home decor items, primarily rugs and bedding with some furniture and accessories, which is a higher ticket item and takes longer to make the decision. The catalog has helped tell ‘our story’ better and create authenticity by making it personal with a note from our founder and designer, Annie Selke,” Marshall says. “We use the catalog theme to drive our marketing communication strategy and digital campaigns each month, meaning our content is based on images and stories from print.”

Marshall says Annie Selke has found a significant increase in new customers from this effort, leading to an improvement in buyer retention. But that offline-to-online strategy is just one part of a broader shift taking place at Annie Selke, as the company focuses on connecting marketing messages and content, and also reaching out to prospects on social channels like Facebook.

Of course, not all of Annie Selke’s digital tactics have been immediately successful. In a quest to measure the reach and effectiveness of its cart abandonment program, Annie Selke began working with a vendor called 4Cite. Marshall says she had worked with 4Cite as a partner with several other brands before she joined Annie Selke, giving her the opportunity to see the success and incremental revenue the vendor drove for those other brands. Now at Annie Selke, she wanted to test the company’s existing cart abandonment-triggered email program against 4Cite’s program.

4Cite’s cart-abandonment program uses web visitor identification technology and analytics to identify previously unidentifiable customers. Marshall thought it would be useful to test the new program before deciding how to move forward with the firm.

“We already had abandon-cart and browse campaigns in house, but we used 4Cite to identify more site visitors, which more than tripled our abandonment email trigger program,” she says. “This was incremental to the existing program.”

Being able to identify previously unidentifiable customers ended up being a big win for Annie Selke, and seeing the results of the 4Cite campaign led Marshall to launch new trigger programs with 4Cite.

Marshall’s new strategy brings Annie Selke’s marketing initiatives full circle, using lightboxes on the company’s website to remind visitors to use the coupon code listed on the back of their printed catalogs. Marshall says the new online-to-offline strategy strengthens the brand’s communication with potential customers.

“We have found significant increase in new customers from this effort and increased buyer retention,” she says.

The brand is also investing more heavily in email marketing, sending more personalized emails based on customer lifecycles and using 4Cite’s cart abandonment, post-purchase, welcome, back-in-stock, and reactivation trigger programs. Marshall says the next step is to build a CRM database and expand the company’s focus on mobile conversions.

“[We’ll] continue to market to the customer based on their life stage with our brand,” she says.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.