As a footwear retailer with 77 stores and a presence in more than 200 independent retailers across the UK, Hotter Shoes has made a name for itself across the pond. But the company has its sights set on U.S. expansion, hoping that its e-Commerce offerings will spearhead the retailer’s American push. Within the last year, Hotter Shoes generated $27 million in U.S. sales, or 35% year-over-year growth, with email-related revenue accounting for approximately 20% to 25% of those sales.
With email contributing so much to the U.S. revenue pie, Hotter Shoes sought to bolster one area of its email marketing campaigns — triggered emails — by leveraging insights from 4Cite, a consumer identification and data management firm.
By using the 4Cite Shopping Elsewhere technology, a platform that triggers email to inactive customers in real time when they are shopping with another retailer, Hotter Shoes increased reactivation rates from customers who had stopped engaging with the brand — by sending them email at the very moment they were opening other marketing emails or browsing other retail sites.
“Reactivation is one metric that has definitely seen major improvement for us, through ongoing conversation and then trigger points and win-back strategies,” said Victoria Betts, Omnichannel Director of Hotter Shoes in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With that reactivation, we’re now trying to capture consumers before they start to lapse. We also look at the sophistication of which coupon will be best utilized to win back that consumer, and equally, determine to what degree is that an appropriate investment from a lifetime value perspective.”
Brand Awareness Is Key To Busting U.S. Barriers To Entry
Betts acknowledged that there are plenty of challenges in making the leap from the UK to the U.S. For one, size and scale stand out — the UK has a population of approximately 65 million people, whereas the U.S. has around 325 million people — but time zones, weather differences and cultural variations also raise potential barriers.
“Unlike when we’ve ventured into other parts of Europe, we’ve found in America that what works in California doesn’t work in Upstate New York,” Betts. “What works in Washington doesn’t work down in Florida. That makes perfect sense as we become more mature and established in the U.S., but it’s still a very simple mistake many brands could make — treating America as just America. Thankfully, working with 4Cite gave us lots of profiling into what type of people live in which specific states and cities, enabling us to discover where we could best leverage our relevancy. We were instructed to be more mindful of these differences, but it took us a good year or so before we truly responded.”
Betts also noted that the competitive landscape in the U.S. among already established retailers remains a big barrier to entry for global retail brands. This made brand awareness a major priority for the Hotter Shoes team, particularly in focusing on targeted messaging as opposed to mass media-driven campaigns.
“With zero brand awareness, you could easily sink tons of marketing dollars into wasteful vanity marketing,” Betts said. “That’s why we made sure we went to direct response and targeted marketing first. We always went below the line (promotional methods that are always under direct control of the marketer), and we developed consistent communications. We never just did broad batch-and-blast campaigns.”
Next Step: U.S. Site Redevelopment
With its email marketing success, Hotter Shoes hopes to bring some of that momentum to the rest of its online experience to further U.S. growth. The retailer is now in the process of updating its U.S. web site.
“I don’t want to have the same site for all customers,” Betts said. “Right now, we need to be showing people in the Northeast boots on the front of the site, whereas California shoppers need to see sandals. It’s more about on-site personalization. We do have decent levels of on-site conversion, but we need to drive more visits to drive that conversion even higher.”