How Crocs plans and implements their promotional email strategy



We recently hosted a webinar with Kelsey Vendetti, Email Marketing Manager at Crocs, during which she walked us through the keys to successful email promotions using illustrative examples from Crocs.Kelsey shared her tips for building a promotional calendar as well as examples of successful calendar-based and product-based promotions – from the planning stage through to results. Kelsey highlighted effective segmentation strategies and also discussed Crocs’ use of triggered campaigns, such as their welcome series, cart abandonment, and winback emails.

Read on for five keys to success with email promotions gleaned from the webinar.
Listen to the entire interview and get the accompanying deck (PDF) below.


1. Know your customer base

Kelsey stressed that knowing what your customers expect from you and what gets them to engage is critical at every step – from planning a promotional calendar, to setting up triggered email campaigns, or sending more targeted promotional campaigns. This takes diligent analytical work, along with being conscious of what’s being sent to your customers’ inboxes in general.


Make sure you know when your competitors are running different promotions. I always put myself in our subscribers’ inboxes and ask ‘What other messages are our customers receiving from other brands?’ to make sure we’re covering all our bases and looking from a customer’s point of view.


Thinking from the perspective of your customers can also help you determine what promotions to run, how to play to your brand’s strengths in comparison to others, and what promotions are popular in your vertical so you can react accordingly.


2. Understand who needs a discount

We’ve seen leading retailers experiment with discount size, frequency, and type, and Crocs is no exception.

In some of their more targeted campaigns, Crocs will leave out any discounts and keep the messaging more brand-oriented. For a recent “Crocs for Kids” campaign, Kelsey saw that:

The message itself drove customers to engage without us having to use a promotion.


Additionally, in an effort to cut back on promotions in their winback campaigns, Crocs tested price sensitive and insensitive customer segments by sending out some emails with promotional offers and others without. From this test, they discovered there were indeed some price insensitive segments – customers who would purchase without the need for a promotional offer. By sending no promotions to those customers, Crocs saw a lift of 2X in revenue per user compared to the control group.


3. Test promotion size and type

The Crocs e-commerce team runs two main types of promotions: Tier 1 promotions are sitewide, calendar or holiday-based promotions sent to their entire database, and include some of Crocs’ best offers throughout the year. Kelsey refers to these as their “loud and proud” promotions. Tier 2 promotions are product-oriented campaigns targeted at customers with a penchant for a specific style or product — Crocs has been experimenting with predictive product-affinity segmentations with these promotions recently.

They run a variety of different tests within each of these campaigns, and compare the relative success of different promotions and promotion types to each other.


The team has revenue targets we want to hit, along with open rate, as well as click-to-open, unique click thru, and engagement KPIs that we’re trying to hit. If we fall short of a revenue target we take a deeper dive to see why we didn’t hit our goal by comparing this campaigns to last year’s. We want to know: ‘Was the timing or did we run something different?’


Some of their more tactical findings include:


Through testing, we’ve found that urgency messaging drives double digit increases in engagement metrics. When you push your customer base, they definitely react.

We try keep the minimum purchase for the promotion slightly above our average order value, to drive these metrics up.

We’ve noticed that putting promo codes in the pre-header results in higher click to open rates.


4. Mix up your promotions

While Kelsey noted that Crocs generally sends out 3 to 5 promotions per month, they try to keep their customers “on their toes” so customers don’t start to expect certain promotions at certain times. Crocs has seen solid success with “Buy One Get One” promotions, but even still, they make sure to keep changing things up across their email programs.


If you have a 25% sale every week, that can work for a while, but we’ve found that people like to be kept guessing and wondering what we are up to and what’s coming next… The discount is also dependent on product mix and the audience that we’re sending to.


5. Easily segment on a variety of variables

The first piece is taking a broader look at your customer base and what’s unique about them, and then building segments accordingly.


For Tier 2 promotions, Crocs is able to segment their audience on a variety of different parameters. Kelsey recommends having an overarching strategy for what you’re trying to achieve, and building an audience based on that strategy. The end goal should always be to get your message in front of the customers that it will resonate best with.


In their recent “Crocs at Work” promotion, Crocs targeted customers who have ever purchased an item from the “Crocs at Work” category. Additionally, they used predictive affinity segmentation to find customers who were most likely to purchase from that product category, despite not having done so in the past (warning: quick Custora pitch ahead).


Using the Custora platform has allowed us to segment on any parameter we’d like… Additionally, we have relied on Custora for our product affinity targeting. Even if a customer’s only purchased two to three products, we can figure out what they’re likely to have an affinity for.


This allows Crocs to get in touch with more of their customers who would be interested in “Crocs at Work” products, without having to email the entire customer base to do so. Kelsey reported strong results for these types of campaigns, but also recommended testing different segmentation strategies within your own customer database.




Infinite Content


2018 Marketing ‘Prerequisites for Success’

The Adobe 2018 Digital Trends report was recently released and it gave its readers some interesting insights into this year’s top marketing priorities around data, design, and technology. The report, which consisted of close to 13,000 participants from various industries including retail, e-commerce and the marketing agency sector, revealed the trends that distinguished the […]