By Pamela Brill - Gifts & Decorative ACCESSORIES Magazine
With two burgeoning boutiques already in place, how can a retailer allocate enough time and resources to an Internet presence? Catching Fireflies, with locations in Berkley and Rochester, MI, found a way to make its website a key marketing tool by obtaining new customers, keeping them informed and establishing an online clientele community.
“In the age of identity theft, spam and junk mail, many people are weary (and wary) of giving out personal information,” says April McCrumb, who owns Catching Fireflies with her husband Steve. “We reward people for taking the time to share information with us.” Last August, the store added a shopping spree contest to its home page, enabling customers to complete a raffle ticket every time they visit. This automatically signs them up to receive Catching Fireflies' biannual newsletter as well as monthly e-news.
In March 2006, special sales events were held on the store's blog every other day. “We encouraged customers to stay informed by signing up to receive our blog entries in their inboxes, via Feedblitz,” says McCrumb. Nearly 100 people registered, and three names were randomly selected to receive store gift cards in $20, $30 and $40 denominations. As a result, Catching Fireflies' e-news mailing list increased 45 percent in 2006. On average, 23 people register for the e-news service each day, both online and in-store.
With a wealth of information reaching consumers on a daily basis, prioritizing is essential to maintaining customer satisfaction. “Most people are overwhelmed with the amount of information they have to process. They don't want to be bothered with useless clutter,” notes McCrumb.
To make their mailings more appealing, the store publishes a monthly e-newsletter filled with photos and information on store happenings, product announcements and pertinent customer details. Blog entries give shoppers the lowdown on upcoming events. Thanks to these services, featured products sell at a higher rate, and customers often inquire about items they've seen online.
To reward loyal online customers, Catching Fireflies offers savings. Each month, the store features a “first week favorite” coupon that's available via e-newsletter and on the home page. “We've recently let our customers vote for their favorite on our blog; their votes determine what next month's coupon will be,” explains McCrumb. Coupon return rates have increased 25.4 percent from the previous year, and are expected to gain an additional 42 percent for 2007.
Catching Fireflies' customers have not been shy about feedback. They enthusiastically comment on blog entries, creating a true community between shoppers and retailer. Such contributions add value to the e-news and help bolster readership.
Overall, the implementation of the e-news program, website and blog — as a complement to the brick-and-mortar store — accounts for the 7-year-old retailer's success in a changing marketplace. “Not only does it open our doors to a larger consumer base, it lets our local customers peruse our products and stay informed about our special events from their home,” says McCrumb.