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Angèl Foster likens Island Olive Oil Company to a “candy store for foodies.” With two locations in Hawaii, the company sources olive oils, balsamic vinegars and other gourmet products from the Aloha State and around the world.
When she and her co-owner—husband Brian—acquired the company in 2016, they placed a premium on two things: customer service and employee knowledge of products.
It’s more than just selling an item. It’s providing an experience, typically through tastings and live events.
So as Island Olive Oil Company follows retailers in building a substantial ecommerce presence, they don’t want to lose their intimate boutique feel.
Omnisend is helping them keep pace in the competitive online marketplace, while using email marketing to replicate the in-store feel as close as possible.
“It’s been great to keep top of mind with our customers, especially during the pandemic,” says Kristy Nave, the company’s digital marketing and social media manager. “We’re showing people how to use our products and encouraging them to try new things weekly. Omnisend is super user friendly and a really great tool to do that.”
Omnisend brings our business to another level. With challenging and changing times of the brick and mortar experience, it’s allowing us to set ourselves up for the future of ecommerce.”
—Angèl Foster, Co-Owner of Island Olive Oil Company
The company’s online store was in operation for a few years when Foster decided to boost their digital marketing game. She wanted to elevate her competitive advantage amid the “hyperspeed” progress of ecommerce, fueled by coronavirus lockdowns.
She sought a marketing engine with greater capabilities than their previous email marketing platform. In Foster’s words, “Omnisend had a lot more to offer” in terms of segmentation and automation for reaching health-conscious consumers, as well as creative home cooks and restaurant chefs who value high-quality ingredients.
Foremost: a dedicated customer success manager (CSM) who meets weekly to review strategy, recommends tools and best practices, helps implement email automations, and answers all questions.
“That’s what resonated with us the most. That’s our priority—customer service,” Foster says. “Being able to bounce something off of her and get an opinion on it has really been helpful.”
This one-on-one support for Island Olive Oil’s small team makes all the difference, according to Foster. The CSM’s guidance identifies and prioritizes opportunities around segments and corresponding email automations.
Audience-targeted emails weren’t new to the company, as they had tested them with their previous email marketing platform. But Omnisend introduced new possibilities, from more robust workflows to deeper insights about their customers’ lifecycle stages.
“Setting up automations is huge for a small business,” Foster says.
The numbers support her. Even though automations compose only 1.22% of Island Olive Oil’s email sends, they generate 39% of marketing email revenue. In less than eight months, automations alone have generated nearly enough sales to pay for a full year of Omnisend.
What does it mean? The remaining 61% of sales from promotional messages—plus every single email sale over the next four months—is money in the bank.
The company’s commitment to sharing knowledge is evidenced through these messages. Two series in particular incorporate educational elements:
Welcome emails draw a 998% greater click rate than promotional emails. The result is an average 11% conversion rate, and a revenue-per-email (RPE) lift of 3,274% over promotional campaigns.
Foster explains the three-part automation personalizes the company with an introduction to the store, brand, team and products. “It helps to separate a small business like us from buying it on Amazon. No offense to Amazon, but it helps us to be boutique in the big world of the internet.”
Here’s how they roll out:
Abandoned Cart Series
Soon after developing the welcome series, efforts shifted to establishing a multi-message workflow to recapture shoppers who abandoned their carts. Overall, the series:
Originally, all messages were general in nature. They widened the tactic so that customers interested in the two top-selling products instead receive emails with product use suggestions and a recipe. A notification about free shipping is also part of the mix, depending on the cart value.
In early 2021, Omnisend launched a feature for all platform users that categorizes each customer according to shopping habits. Buying frequency, when a purchase was last made, and typical spend amount determine where they fall on the “Lifecycle Stages Map.”
The map presents “an incredible opportunity,” Foster says, describing the dashboard as an easy-to-grasp visualization. It’s the kind of thing, she comments, that is typically devised by a sizable marketing team.
“We’re competing with these larger businesses and this allows us to have that reach,” she says, to which Nave quickly chimes in, “At the right time.”
Two groups are the focus of initial attention: the at-risk (customers who bought once or twice but have been inactive since) and can’t lose (bigger spenders but haven’t purchased in a long time).
They’re happy with the results so far:
Prior to the feature release, Foster and Nave were aware of the customers teetering on the edge of churn. But their backend work had categorized the contacts into one segment, and therefore everyone received the same messages.
The lifecycle dashboard defines groups more precisely, enabling improved messaging and tailored offers that better resonate. The pair intend to experiment with other lifecycle stages, including recognizing and rewarding the repeat “loyalist” and “champion” customers.
All of Island Olive Oil’s automations not only increase sales, but save time. That means Nave can devote greater energy to promotions, which are key to nudging Hawaiian customers through the doors of their physical stores.
She appeals to subscribers with discounts and event notifications, borrowing ideas and best practices from Omnisend’s blog. Her content calendar cycles through a rotation of topics; a feature brand or product one week, an FAQ series another, and video recipes, employee spotlights, and special sales in between.
While Island Olive Oil’s activity mix has more complexity than it did eight months ago, Foster advises other merchants to elevate their digital presence in the same, slow approach.
“Don’t get overwhelmed,” she says. “Maybe start with sending one or two emails a month, every two weeks. While doing that, build your welcome series like we did.”
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