Silver Jeans, the denim brand that does $150 million in sales across the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia, has made tremendous strides in digital marketing in recent years. The most amusing example might be its “Love Below the Waist” YouTube web series launched around Valentine’s Day 2017 and depicting two pairs of jeans as they embark on their love story. Billed as “sassy, cheeky and sometimes straight-up ridiculous,” the romcom is one of Silver Jeans’ more interesting approaches to digitally engaging with customers.
But without an overhaul of its digital marketing program in 2014, when director of e-commerce Mike Girardin joined the company, something like “Love Below the Waist” probably wouldn’t have happened. Prior to his arrival, Silver Jeans was underutilizing email as a marketing vehicle. Girardin describes a marketing program that sent out random emails with no fixed plan — no consistency, common threads of messaging, segmentation or anything other than “batch and blast.”
Working with email marketing automation provider Bronto, Silver Jeans took the first basic step of segmenting its audience, separating Canada from the United States, for example. Marketing and e-commerce wanted to send out a “few more emails without bothering people or causing unsubscribes,” says Girardin. “We wanted to test what kind of frequency we could get away with.” As Silver Jeans began sending out more emails to customers, it discovered that the response improved with each one. “It’s a compounding effect,” Girardin explains. While one email might generate 1x revenue and two emails might yield 2x revenue, four emails will drive 6x revenue. “Part of it is that you’re staying fresh in people’s memories. You’ve got to hit them up a certain number of times before they recognize your existence.”
Silver Jeans also launched automated triggered emails, such as a welcome message or an abandoned cart email. Messaging varies from offering a discount to highlighting various features on the website to promoting Silver Jeans’ denim fit guide.
Experimenting with A/B testing has been a learning experience. For example, Girardin’s team discovered that despite the conventional wisdom that short email subject lines are better, “an effective subject line is unintuitively long,” he explains. On Black Friday, his team tested messages simply promoting an offer versus saying something “a little more interesting” in the subject line. “‘Black Friday’ works a lot better,” Girardin notes. “People are searching their email inbox for ‘Black Friday,’ so if you don’t use it, they can’t find it.”
So far the marketing efforts are paying off: from October 2015 to October 2016, online sales grew 40 percent and sales are expected to rise by as much as 30 percent this year. Says Girardin, “We’ve gone from doing nothing to doing a whole lot of things.”