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Founded 15 years ago by two die-hard backcountry skiers, Backcountry.com has grown into the largest online specialty retailer of premium outdoor gear. Consistently included as one of Internet Retailer’s Best of the Web, Backcountry.com runs a slew of websites ranging from online stores to daily deal sites, which receive over 13 million unique visitors a month.
Like any online retailer, Backcountry.com relies on email marketing to drive revenue. To this end, Backcountry.com hired Kimberly Snyder, Email and Loyalty Marketing Manager, to make improvements. Having previously worked as a director at a leading email service provider (ESP), Snyder is a highly knowledgeable email marketer with rare insight into the ESP marketplace.
Upon joining Backcountry.com, Snyder immediately discovered she needed to improve Backcountry’s email marketing capabilities. She had inherited an ESP that did not meet her high expectations and could not deliver on the company’s goals. “I quickly uncovered a lot of pain points tied to our previous ESP,” says Snyder.
She identified room for substantial improvement at almost every turn: structure, data integrity, triggered email control, deliverability, and support. The lack of data integrity caused multiple problems, the direst of which was a high subscriber attrition rate. “We had a massive unsubscribe issue. Subscribers were not able to unsubscribe from just one site’s emails,” says Snyder. “If a customer was subscribed to both Backcountry.com and RealCyclist.com, for instance, and unsubscribed from one site’s email, he was universally unsubscribed from all our emails.”
Backcountry.com’s triggered emails were extremely limited. Even simple triggered campaigns, such as welcome emails, were a challenge. “I wasn’t able to change anything without it breaking or having to rely on our former provider to build a new tool,” explains Snyder.
Email and Loyalty Marketing Manager, Backcountry.com
Deliverability was also an issue. “One of the most important things for deliverability is your site’s sender reputation,” says Snyder, “but we were not able to analyze which site had a strong sender reputation and which sites had bad data, hard bounces, or a high complaint ratio. It was a challenge for us to utilize any kind of inbox monitoring.”
Most importantly, given all the challenges, Backcountry.com was not getting the support it needed. Snyder started her quest for a new ESP.
In the process, Snyder used her extensive vendor experience to build a comprehensive wish list. “I really understood what I wanted and I was open to a wide search of ESPs,” recounts Snyder, ”so I created a score card. I ranked each ESP by the following: segmentation, dynamic content, account set-up, pricing, account services, and migration experience.”
During the selection process, Yes Marketing stood out among the contenders. “Yes Marketing outperformed at every level,” explains Snyder. “I use segmentation and automated dynamic content blocks to the hilt, so I really need segmentation and dynamic content tools that are robust and smart. Yes Marketing has a really nice drag-and-drop functionality: once I do an API call for an event trigger, it’s very easy to use the tools to build upon that and decide different paths for different customers depending on what action they take. To be able to easily create and optimize my campaigns and dynamic emails without spending more money is tremendous.”
Yes Marketing also excelled in terms of account set-up and cost effectiveness. “I wanted an ESP to meet my exact needs in terms of account structure,” states Snyder. “Having nine websites, I wanted to make sure they were each set-up properly. In addition, we are all in a budget-conscious world now, so I needed a really smart tool at a good cost.”
Snyder looked for more than just technology in her ESP of choice. “Having been on both the client-side and ESP-side, I understand that the brain trust behind the software service is the differentiator between a really good ESP and an O.K. ESP,” says Snyder. “I wanted an ESP that was going to partner with me, because I know how difficult it can be to transition from one ESP to another. If you don’t have a really smart team behind you, it can be dreadful.”
Yes Marketing's sales and account team were up to the challenge. “At every stage of the process, Yes Marketing was exceptional,” recounts Snyder. “There were several ESP’s that I struck from the very beginning because their sales team did not know email marketing at the level I needed. It’s really important to have a sales team that completely understands email marketing, which Yes Marketing definitely does.”
Migration was made painless by Yes Marketing's experienced staff. “I can’t say enough about how hands-on the migration team was and how seamless they made the entire process. I was more than pleased,” states Snyder. “Yes Marketing put together a migration team that met with us on multiple occasions, understood our needs, and walked us through every step of the migration. I had support at every level. If I was concerned about how to ensure that we had the most pristine sender reputation, one of Yes Marketing's really smart deliverability guys was available. The team dropped everything to help us. For a business to transition over 200 email triggers without any issue, that’s completely over the top.”
Email and Loyalty Marketing Manager, Backcountry.com
What’s more, Backcountry.com finally has the support it deserves. ”I have an incredible account team at Yes Marketing, one of the best in the business,” states Snyder. “During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we were working hard to get a ton of emails out, to have them timed right, and to get the best inboxing possible. There were many long nights, and I mean 4 a.m nights, and Yes Marketing would always be available to provide any help or advice we needed. We had a huge Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and a big part of that was Yes Marketing's ability to meet our needs time and time again.”
The setup of Yes Marketing's cross-channel platform has reduced Backcountry.com’s unsubscribe rate by 53% and its emails now inbox 100% across all major Internet Service Providers. Furthermore, increased ease-of-use and account support has eliminated the need for costly custom projects and time-consuming workarounds, reducing Backcountry.com’s operational costs and increasing its productivity. This all adds up to increased revenue. Since moving to Yes Marketing's cross-channel platform, Backcountry.com’s weekly revenue has grown by more than 45% compared to last year.
“With Yes Marketing, I feel that Backcountry.com has found a partner it can rely on,” says Snyder, “one that will work with us to grow our business now and into the future.”