These Boots Were Made for Loyalty: DSW launches Reward Your Style e-newsletter

Publication: Chief Marketer
April 27, 2006
By Eda Galeno

Look down. What’s on your feet? Pointed shoes will soon be passé. Espadrilles will be the new rave.

But you would have known that if you received DSW’s Reward Your Style Loyalty Member monthly e-newsletter.

“In the past, we’ve done a traditional monthly e-mail with one message and no real call to action,” says David Sims, director of customer marketing for the shoe retailer. “Now we’re using some pretty nifty dynamic content.”

DSW’s e-mail newsletters are sent to opt-in members of the 200+ store chain’s Reward Your Style loyalty program. The 4.5 million shoeaholics who’ve joined earn a $25 reward certificate for every $250 they spend.

The topic and the target audience are naturals, feels Sims. After all, most women have a little Carrie Bradshaw in their genetic makeup.

“At the end of the day it’s women and shoes,” he theorizes. “If you can’t run a good loyalty program that involves women and shoes, you shouldn’t be in the loyalty program business,” he says.

Data such as customers’ point balances and which store is the closest to their home is used to segment the company’s database in various ways. Although the shell of the newsletter remains the same, e-mail vendor ExactTarget offers different buckets of content to different segments.

“We’re trying to drive personalized relevant and timely communications,” says Sims. “So if my closest store is in Buck Head, Atlanta, I’ve got 229 points and I bought a gift card over the holiday, I’ll get a different e-mail than someone in Columbus, Ohio.”

DSW segments its loyalty program into 4.5 million active and 7 million inactive members. Active members have made a purchase within the last 12 months.

Sims has created some win-backs directed at inactive customers. But with such a large active mailing list he says that budgetary considerations keep them focused on engaging active members.

“We know who our best customers are with the power of a data warehouse and we know that we have like customers who spend a very similar amount when they shop, but they shop fewer times with us. So their offer may be targeted to get them to come back. It could be a call to shop during a specific time and get double points towards their rewards certificate.”

Sims says he’s happy with open rates, which are being measured across the board via different segments. For a pure brick and mortar store with no e-commerce, he views the e-mail program as a relationship-building tool.

As for additional tracking, Sims knows which loyalty reward members receive the newsletter, the open rate, the clickthrough rate and if the customer ended up shopping during the proposed promotional period.

The newsletter isn’t only sales. Tips such as how to store boots are offered, as are updates in new shoe and accessory trends.

Sims has also recently begun to engage customers by asking them to rate a shoe photo as warm, hot or on fire. Results are published the following month.

“I sent out an e-mail Monday night and I’m amazed that people are responding the way they are. I have been pleasantly surprised with the interactivity of the newsletter,” he says.

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