Personalization at Scale: How SMS Helped PERC Coffee Untangle its Marketing Campaigns

Lately, Intuit Mailchimp has been laser focused on solving our customers’ clustomer problem. Yes, clustomer — the unsegmented recipients of an email marketing campaign that may or may not be relevant to them. In our recent survey with Edelman DXI, we found that customers are 87% more likely to click into an email if it’s personalized to them, and 71% of customers are more likely to purchase from a company that sends them personalized email. But we often hear that the biggest pain point marketers have when it comes to email is figuring out how to reach the right people with the right message.

With Mailchimp and an ecosystem of integrations, our customer PERC Coffee has been able to look at their clustomer and use data to identify individuals with different needs — like those who need a little extra nudge to make their second purchase, those who entered the funnel through a sponsorship of their favorite YouTube channel and require tailored messaging, or those who are undeniably partial to PERC’s “wild” coffees over their “mild” coffees and might enjoy a recommendation.

Now Mailchimp has added SMS marketing to our offerings, giving our customers a new channel to drive results through their integrated marketing strategies. But with great opportunities for engagement come great responsibility, something that PERC takes very seriously when executing their tactics. Here’s what we learned from our work with them.

Build Your Brand, Then Boost Your Sales

More than seven in 10 customers say they are likely to trust a company more because of brand-building initiatives, which goes to show that there’s value in playing the long game. Taking the time to understand your customers and what they care about, and then showing up in authentic, human ways, goes a long way to nurturing the relationship with your customers.


Since 2010, PERC has done a lot of legwork to cement its credibility as a trusted source for delicious, ethically sourced specialty coffee, and build their brand personality as friendly, welcoming coffee people who just want to help everyone find their perfect cup. Between best-in-class customer service at its cafes in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., and affable storytelling and education through its digital channels like social media and email, PERC opened the doors to be able to communicate with its most faithful fans in a more direct and personal way.

“If email marketing is used for people at the bottom of the marketing funnel, SMS to me is [used] even lower [in the funnel],” said PERC’s Co-owner and self-proclaimed “numbers guy” Alan Fischer. “I would want to reserve it for not just people who we’ve already acquired as customers, but for people who are fiercely loyal, and only use it for things that are somehow driving extra value to them.”

And after PERC sent its first SMS campaign through Mailchimp, the company realized that their earlier brand-building efforts paid off. It called for signups by promoting an SMS-only flash sale and within a couple of days added over 100 people to its SMS opt-in list. When the company sent out the flash sale message, it had a 50% click rate, and from those clicks, a 91% conversion rate.

Fischer takes extra care in maintaining relationships with those customers in the bottom of the funnel. PERC’s marketing priorities focus on driving customer lifetime value rather than basket size or order frequency. And consistently maintaining those longstanding relationships requires an always-on approach that is enabled in part with the help of Mailchimp’s Customer Journeys solution.

Use Data and Automation to Personalize Your Efforts

The demands on customers and marketers are higher than ever, and it takes time and labor to run and grow a business. Let your tools manage some of the heavy lifting and put your ecommerce data to work to tailor your messaging to drive more repeat business and increase customer retention.

With Customer Journeys, PERC creates touch points with its customers when they need it, like right after someone buys a bag of coffee. To help customers understand the nuances of their coffees and how to get the most out of each brew, PERC created a “Brew Tips” campaign that sends a follow-up after someone makes a purchase, so that guidance is hitting their inbox right as the coffee is hitting their doorstep. And with open rates for these emails, now being sent for 11 different coffees, ranging from 75% to 85%, they’ve clearly been a hit.

To set up the Brew Tips journeys for this kind of engagement, the company uses data from its Shopify store to automatically add a tag to a customer’s profile after that person purchases a specific coffee. This creates another opportunity for even more targeted marketing — when the company is running low on a certain offering, the team can send a super-targeted SMS campaign to notify past purchasers about the last-chance product.

“We roasted the final batch of the Colombia Sidra Genius coffee, so with 25-ish bags left, I sent out an SMS message only to the 14 people who had previously purchased it — as identified by the tag added to their customer profile through the Brew Tips journey — and had also signed up for SMS,” Fischer said. “Just a simple heads up that we had roasted the final batch because I think they’d want to know.”

Reward Your Most Loyal Customers

It’s not surprising that personalized offers make a huge difference in conversions — we found that 81% of marketers say it is very or extremely important to be able to target customers with discount codes as part of personalized campaigns. Offering discounts to a certain subset of your customers can help boost loyalty and increase repeat purchases, but if you do offer it to everyone, you can deepen the relationship with your best customers by giving them an advantage.

SMS plays a special role in the way PERC does this. For instance, PERC offers “The Big Deal,” a campaign that offers a steep discount on the 13th of every month. One month, it might offer a set discount on bags of coffee and send a text to subscribers an hour before the discount window closes. Another month, PERC might give subscribers an exclusive heads up on a “Buzzer Beater Big Deal,” a declining discount campaign where early birds save the most on coffee when they purchase within the first hour.

This all goes back to what Fischer said about driving extra value — PERC can alert its customers in real time about time-sensitive promotions so they don’t miss out on crucial moments. And because SMS helps you get messages to people right in the palm of their hands, you benefit from higher open rates than email, driving more engagement, conversion and overall brand loyalty. But luckily, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. For customers like PERC, email and SMS work better together, effectively shaping a new era of impactful marketing.

Jamal Miller is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Intuit Mailchimp. He has 15+ years of experience in product marketing, digital marketing and lifecycle marketing roles, including previous stints at Amazon (for the Kindle and Ring brands) and the Graduate Management Admissions Councils (GMAC). Miller received his BA from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., and completed an MBA at the University of Maryland, Smith School of Business.

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