‘Email is definitely important,’ starts Abigail Crompton, founder of , a business she started back in 2003. ‘It keeps us in people’s minds and is the perfect platform for us to try and replicate the Third Drawer Down in-store experience online.’
Three years after launching her business, Abigail had a friend create her first website to showcase the art tea towels she stocked. ‘One day I was fiddling around in the backend and noticed a “Buy” button, so I made everything available for online sales,’ she tells. Since then, Third Drawer Down has amassed a global following of art lovers who buy online, as well as from the Fitzroy Flagship store and at various museums and galleries that stock the brand across the globe. In addition to selling direct to customers, Third Drawer Down also acts as a wholesale business and operates a custom design studio where they collaborate with some of the biggest artists and galleries in the world (think Ai Weiwei, David Shrigley, Yayoi Kusuma, Guggenheim, MOMA, Tate, Whitney and, Melbourne’s own, NGV).
Given their audience is global and differs in requirements from the business, how do they utilise email to communicate and grow the brand? ‘I normally come up with an email marketing plan based on product drops, our own collaborations and their stories, and also calendar events like Mother’s Day and quirky days that may relate to our products, like National Donut Day,’ says Kitty Sutherland, the brand’s Marketing & Online Manager. ‘We try to only send out newsletters once a fortnight but we get a little excited over Christmas.
We want to be the friend you’re always happy to hear from, not the friend you unsubscribe from. – Kitty Sutherland
To achieve this the brand segments their database into those who need to know what’s happening in retail, in the studio and in wholesale. ‘Our tone of voice is quite conservative, informative and more commercially mannered with our wholesale and custom design clients, so it’s important for us to have them separated,’ says Abigail.
As the business has grown, so too have the resources they have poured into this marketing tool. ‘At first it was just me doing email,’ says Abigail, ‘then it was our Retail Manager (six years ago) and now it’s Kitty (two years ago).
I’m always interested in new platforms and efficient ways of running things — we’re not afraid to overhaul systems! – Abigail Crompton
For Kitty, the ability to take their emails to a ‘new level visually’ has been rewarding. ‘With the help of our lovely graphic designer and lovely stylist/photographer, we have been able to do this’. These resources, adds Abigail, have been crucial in sending emails of which they can be really proud. ‘As we collaborate with some of the most prestigious artists in the world, we want to make sure we are sharing wonderfully visual content…we love GIFs!’
With such a successful business, what advice would they give to others just getting started with email marketing? According to Kitty, it’s treating your customers as individuals. ‘Personalisation is key. I love how sites like allow you to curate how you receive their emails, and which artists you want to hear about.’
Lastly, Abigail urges small businesses launching online to just ‘embrace the things that go wrong and learn from them, or laugh at them!’ When launching her website the shopping cart went down without her knowledge. ‘If that didn’t happen we wouldn’t have received a phone call from Sarah Jessica Parker in New York who was online shopping at 2am as she was up with her newborns. We got chatting and found out she was an online customer of ours through that call. She visited the store when she was in Melbourne! We had a photo, and now I’m convinced we’re BFFs!’
Shop online or visit their flagship at 93 George Street, Fitzroy.
STEPS TO BETTER EMAIL MARKETING
1. Treat People as Individuals
Segmenting your audience is essential to understanding behaviour and driving conversion. This may be as simple as segmenting by location, by SKUs if an online store, or by the way recipients initially sign up to your email (at an event vs. when making an online purchase). Platforms like , and make segmenting relatively simple, allowing you to choose from a menu of pre-formulated groups such as location, date added to database or SKU bought. By segmenting lists you’re able to understand what each group needs and how to better communicate with them in the future.
2. Utilise Status Emails
Status emails are the emails you receive after placing an order with a website. The majority of these will be plain text and include the recipient’s address and order info. Despite enjoying some of the highest open rates of all emails, most brands do little to utilise the valuable real estate these emails provide. Consider adding in your social media information, a video link about the brand’s story or care details for the products you sell. All of this helps your audience better understand and connect with your business.
3. Test, Test and Test Again
Not sure which subject line is going to the best affective, or if people prefer a lifestyle image vs. a product image for the hero? Test them. Most email platforms will allow you to send variables of the same email to your audience to test which has greater cut-through. The platform can identify, after a chosen time period, which is performing better and send that through to the remaining audience. You can utilise a platform like to give you an idea of how well the subject lines will perform, which may help with increasing your open rate.
4. Know Your Destination
To paraphrase Steve Krug (author of ), the less someone needs to think about their next step on your website, the better. Cement your objectives prior to designing your emails and ensure you’re using links to direct your audience to exactly the right page/product/download that you’d like them to engage with. When you link to a homepage you’re putting the onus on the recipient to go and find what they saw in the email, as opposed to you sending them straight there. You can also set up “goals” in Google Analytics to track where people go after landing on the site from your email.
5. Build Your List
Email marketing is still one of the quickest ways to grow your business. Investigate ways to capture email addresses online and offline. This may be by adding a capture form at the end of an About Us page (one of the most viewed on all websites), adding email info to your social media profiles, capturing in-store/at events or reminding people about your newsletter/email in your next social post. While pop-ups can work, you must analyse their success on your website (use a heatmap tool, or ). I suggest you have these appear at the 10-second mark, if at all, once people have had a chance to read/review the page. When they appear immediately, the majority of users will simply dismiss and/or find it so irritating they leave the site.
Fiona Killackey is a business consultant and the founder of , providing information and education for starting and growing a creative small business.