February 02, 2009

Costco E-Mail Campaigns

I have no information about whether this style of e-mail merchandising and creative works or not ... but it sure is different. Click here to see a recent Costco E-Mail Campaign.

Your typical merchant or creative staffer might say "Hey, you cannot have a spa gift certificate located next to a set of Michelin brand tires." If I had a dollar for every time I heard something like that, I could buy a set of Michelin brand tires ... or a spa gift certificate.

So many e-mail campaigns look the same ... one featured item "Our Best Hooded Sweatshirts At The Best Prices Of The Season!" coupled a free shipping offer (hurry, free shipping ends on Wednesday), some tabs across the top of the e-mail campaign featuring key merchandising divisions, and mouse print on the bottom of the e-mail campaign that makes lawyers feel comfortable.

Here's the challenge. We're moving into a new era of merchandising. Somehow we have to communicate that we stand for something, even if that means featuring a tray of Sliced Meats and Cheeses next to a Nutrisystem 35 Day Favorites Meal Plan.

And think about what Costco can learn from this e-mail campaign? It's one thing to measure an e-mail campaign that features one item. It's quite another thing to quantify which of 77 unique products the customer clicks on --- to do a Multichannel Forensics analysis on the items customers cross-shop. Who do you think learns more about what works and what doesn't work? Who can evolve and adapt faster?

Back in the day, we agonized over how to merchandise a catalog. We had to agonize, because we had to plan nine months ahead of time for the catalog, and when it went in the mail, it HAD to work. There was no room for sloppiness.

This e-mail campaign can be put together on a Monday, delivered the following week, yielding a ton of knowledge insights in just four days. Two weeks later, somebody can start the process all over again.

It is this "rapid cycle of learning" that we have to learn to master.