Building customer relationships is an admittedly tall order for a maternity shop, where the very nature of customer relations changes within a few months. Due Maternity overcomes this challenge with a multilevel online community that encompasses everything from email campaigns to baby-naming advice, astrological charts, blogs, and podcasts.
Albert DiPadova, who founded the store in 2003 with his wife, Shannon, says Due Maternity began its marketing with a simple email address acquisition at its Santa Barbara, CA, store. By the end of its first year Due had collected 10,000 opt-in email addresses. "It was pretty daunting," DiPadova says. "I was practically doing it all manually."
Looking for a marketing tool that would aid in both customer retention and acquisition, DiPadova engaged email marketing provider VerticalResponse to establish a regimen of weekly HTML emails to some 13,000 customers. Since then the retailer has expanded to include stores in Atlanta, Austin, and San Francisco, as well as create an e-commerce site where visitors can shop by designer, department, or clothing category, such as dresses or active wear.
"We do all kinds of advertising, including print, broadcast, and banner ads," DiPadova says, "but it's with our email that we get the highest ROI." He credits the email program with being the driving factor behind Due's annual $2 million in online sales, adding that, by using referring URLs in its email, Due can track what part of a campaign is being clicked on and what offers are the most effective.
The emails are delivered on a segmented basis depending on what week a woman is in her natal/postnatal cycle. They offer relevant clothes and accessories, and also information on such topics as fetal development and trends in children's names and clothing, which is reflective of the content on the community page on Due's website.
Depending on the offer, DiPadova says, Due typically sees a 3 to 5 percent click-through rate on its emails, while a recent discount offer for environmentally-safe household and baby products resulted in a nearly 10 percent click- through.
On the Due Maternity website, community members can search a database of potential baby names, upload photos and videos, listen to podcasts, and create wish lists.
Due customers provide their due dates when they register, and Due Maternity stops sending expectant-mothers emails within a few days of that date. Instead, it switches to emails about nursing and baby products. Typically, DiPadova says, a Due Maternity customer lasts from about the three months pregnant stage to a few months after their due date; customers are automatically dropped one year after their due dates.
However, Due's marketing partners, including fitness program Baby Boot Camp and baby product retailer Giggle.com, will usually take over emailing new moms who opt in, and Due Maternity itself finds many new customers through referrals from its partners.
DiPadova says the company also uses the site as a sales tool for its physical stores, offering virtual tours and store coupons as a means of driving traffic. And more traffic is definitely expected, as Due Maternity plans to open at least two stores a year for the next five years. "Not all, but a great deal, of that is due to the email program," he says.