Smart Marketing Helps Plus Size Retailer Grow

James Maguire

Updated · Aug 29, 2005

In the mid ’90s, entrepreneur Anne Kelly saw that larger women were having a hard time finding attractive and well-made sports clothing. To meet their needs, Kelly founded Junonia, a company that describes its apparel line as “exclusively devoted to the 40% of American women who wear a size 14 and up.”

Launched as a catalog-only business, the St. Paul, Minneapolis-based Junonia sends out 6 million catalogs a year. But since going online in 1999, half of its sales now flow through its online store.

On the way to becoming a successful e-tailer, Junonia has learned how to reach its online audience – particularly through e-mail marketing.

The company uses e-mail much more aggressively than it used to. “We were doing four to five e-mailings a month; now we do twice a week,” says Tom Lindmeier, Junonia’s e-commerce director.

“That’s a lot of e-mails,” Lindmeier concedes. But, as the company knows from its catalog business – it sends out 18 56-page catalogs a year – if the content is good, customers don’t mind the frequency. The trick is to provide the right mix of discount offers and product highlights, he says. And, “We treat our e-mail customers as a preferred customer.”

Getting Customers to Love E-mail Marketing
When Junonia started sending e-mails twice a week, it encountered some resistance from users. But it has an ingenious technique to keep its shoppers on its mailing list.

“Before they hit the opt-out button, we say ‘click here, and you can decrease the number of e-mails by 50%,'” Lindmeier says.

After using A/B testing heavily, the site retained much of its e-mail list. Particularly effective: Junonia often liquidates merchandise, so it sells some items at fire sale prices. These discount offers keep shoppers interested.

Customers “love bargains – they want to know what kind of deals we have,” Lindmeier says.

Also important: the e-mails, no matter how frequent, maintain a “voice,” a friendly, conversational tone. The mailings (and all the site’s marketing) put the image of Anne Kelly in the forefront, stressing her accessibility.

“We always attach a letter from Anne,” Lindmeier says, noting that the site never uses the “buy now!” style of marketing.

“You have to think of the marketplace, and all the noise out there, and find a way to get through it,” he says.

Junonia has succeeded by pursuing an underserved market and by savvy print and email marketing.

Catalog-Web Synergy
“We work very hard at providing a synergy between the catalog and the Web site,” he says. Junonia schedules its e-mail campaigns and its catalog mailings to compliment each other.

Junonia creates Web-catalog synergy by printing a six-digit order number in the catalog. “If you enter the style number [at the site] it will bring you directly to the shopping cart, and the shopping cart shows an image of the item – it decreases the number of clicks, to make shopping efficient,” Lindmeier says.

In its catalog business, Junonia uses a RFM formula (reach, frequency, and monetary) to determine which of its customers will be sent catalogs – it’s too costly to send each mailing to every customer.

But the site doesn’t need to use this formula for its e-mail marketing. As Lindmeier says, stating one of the great truths of businesses that combine print catalog with e-commerce: “Catalogs are very expensive to send out, but e-mails cost almost nothing.”

Vital Statistics
Name: Junonia
Founded: 1995
Sales/revenues: Greater than $10 million
Content management/storefront system: Microsoft
Database backend: Proprietary
Visitor analytics system: 123 Analyzer
Affiliate technology provider: Commission Junction
Ad server: N/A
Payment solutions provider: M & I Merchant Services
Hosting provider: Fluent Edge
Number of tech staff: N/A
Number of employees: 16
Key strategies:
• Aggressive, but smart, email campaigning.

• Effectively tying print catalog and Web site together for easy shopping.

• Personalizing all emails from company owner.

James Maguire is a contributor to His column appears every Monday.

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