Email marketing has always been a big part of Young’s Jersey Dairy’s plan to connect with their guests. Then again, they had a list of over 300,000 customers before email even existed.
In the late 1980’s, Dan Young, CEO of Young’s Dairy used DBase to create a program for their guests to enter into the Young’s Birthday Club. You were able to enter your name, physical address and birthdate. Of course, everyone in the household could sign up as well. Two weeks before your birthday, you’d receive a post card in the mail with a coupon for a two dip sundae.
And for a long time, that worked for everyone. It was a cost efficient way to keep guests coming back to celebrate their special day at Young’s. In addition, the database held a lot of valuable data. Knowing where their guests were coming from by zip code was very important when it came to advertising purposes.
But as postage rates began to rise dramatically (25% in 4 years). The cost of sending 300,000 postcards rose $15,000 just for the postage alone. Not counting the cost in printing and labeling each postcard. So the program was discontinued in 1997.
In 2003, Young’s started to collect email addresses. And long before Shout It Out Design was in business, I began learning about email marketing.
For 3 years, we kept a manual list of all of our subscribers. Using spreadsheets and custom macros to send emails before the guests’ birthdays. As you could imagine – this wasn’t an optimal email marketing strategy. But it worked, until we found a local internet service provider with an aptitude for web programming to help us out.
David Mezera, founder of Donet (Now DataYard), helped us create a portal for our email marketing needs. Long before companies like Constant Contact and MailChimp were around, David was able to create the beginnings of what all of these companies provide for their clients. For several years we jumped from service to service until we found one that felt like exactly what we needed, one that I custom built.
Young’s birthday club is a unique one. Most email marketing lists are one name, one email. Considering that Young’s is a family location, we wanted the whole family to sign up for our list, not just one person. Our list can handle up to 6 names per email address, ensuring that each member gets a personalized, age-appropriate coupon/offer before their birthday.
In June 2010, the list started at just under 6,000 email addresses. Between that time and February 2012 when we had really started pushing the list, installing a kiosk in the Dairy Store and promoting the list both in store and on Facebook – we had nearly doubled the list’s size. And that growth didn’t stop there (it’s up 153.8% since then).
The list has grown an additional 37.5% from February 2012 to now, including a fantastic 20.1% jump from April 2012 through October 2012 (Young’s primary busy season).
This growth story, while amazing, isn’t unexpected. Young’s has a very loyal base of customers. We don’t use the email marketing list to spam or to over-promote. Last year, aside from birthday coupons, only 13 emails went out. Barely over 1 a month. The list also averages a 27% open rate, which is far above the average for a restaurant/entertainment facility.
Devising an email marketing plan takes time and strategy. What value proposition are you offering to your guests to gather their email address? If you find value in getting their email address – you need to give them something of equal value for it.