Reflecting the Brand with Every Message
Blenders Eyewear had its roots in crowdsourcing and social media, but needed to reach customers and followers with consistent email messaging that embodied its youthful, trend-setting, value-conscious brand identity. Elite SEM helped Blenders optimize email content and offers and showcase its brand with every campaign, driving record sales.
Blenders Eyewear was founded in 2012 by Chase Fisher and Blake Jensen. The idea spawned when Chase went to see one of his favorite DJs at a Downtown San Diego nightclub. His neon green “beater” sunglasses received an overwhelmingly positive response, and what started out as a night full of close friends and good music quickly escalated into a full-fledged obsession with sunglasses.
During this time, Chase and Blake were neighbors on a Pacific Beach, CA street named ‘Hornblend’, which gave birth to the name ‘Blenders.’ The moniker also plays on the mixing, matching and blending of various colors seen throughout the company’s product line. Blake, a graphic designer, crafted a logo and Facebook page within three days of meeting Chase. Demand for initial designs arrived immediately following social media circulation, resulting in substantive feedback and requests for purchasing details. This early feedback galvanized Chase and Blake, serving as validation of their business model.
The duo began observing various trends and styles in San Diego and noticed a major void in the market between high-end designer sunglasses and low-end beater shades. They couldn’t pinpoint a brand that delivered quality construction paired with an acceptably low price threshold. Following research, they discovered that the eyewear market was heavily dominated by a small group of players that leverage heavy controls on all pricing, distribution, and manufacturing. Chase and Blake determined it was this fact that likely stood behind their inability to procure affordable sunglasses with the design characteristics they desired.
“Elite’s team has thrown themselves whole-heartedly into communicating our specific core identity, while contributing their industry-wide expertise.”
Chase Fisher | Founder, Blenders Eyewear
They received $2,000 loan from Chase’s roommate to purchase a trademark and website domain, as well as fund the first round of sunglasses and sticker creation. Shortly after, Chase and Blake launched the company at San Diego State’s Entrepreneur Day. Following company launch, it became apparent that the sunglasses line needed more color ways and styles so they took to Indiegogo. After a successful campaign, they had a line of affordable sunglasses whose brightly-colored and patterned frames and tinted lenses were fresh and eye-catching. A direct-to- consumer sales model, with most purchases transacted via the e-commerce site, helped keep costs low.
Stickers and sunglasses were passed out at local beaches, pool parties and music festivals to generate exposure, and relied heavily on social media with half a million followers on Facebook and Instagram. Appearances on the Today Show, CNBC MTV and mentions in fashion magazines gave Blenders a further boost. Trade shows brought the brand into contact with retail distributors, and Blenders are now available globally.
The company now offers dozens of sunglasses styles, in addition to snow goggles. In order to build on its social media fan base, the Blenders team sought to open new pathways to communicate with customers and followers and engage them in the brand’s lifestyle content, as well as to encourage further purchases. The company partnered with Elite SEM in the spring of 2017 to make the most of its email program.
Content & Design Update Captures Essence of the Brand
When the relationship with Elite SEM began in early 2017, Blenders sent sporadic emails focused primarily on promotional offers. With help from Elite SEM’s strategists and content creators, the team created a calendar of regular messages that boosted the number of sends while diversifying the mix of products, content, and offers. As a result, the number of calendared emails delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017 zoomed 310% year-over-year, and revenue generated via those sends jumped 324%.
Crucially, the increased cadence of emails didn’t reduce engagement, thanks to the team’s creative efforts to embody the essence of Blenders’ youthful, fun-loving brand identity. The team developed content in tempo with collegiate calendars, with messaging for back-to-school, and ensured the brand voice was consistently speaking clearly to the target audience. Subscribers were encouraged to “Go H.A.M. on Free Shipping” for a one-day sitewide offer, while a National Sunglasses Day promotion in June of 2017 earned as much as Black Friday had the year before. By demonstrating such a keen understanding of their customers, Blenders and Elite SEM increased the calendared email open rate by 10.9% year over year in Q4, while the conversion rate jumped 28.1%. Opt out rates dropped 22%.
Similarly, when revamping Blenders’ triggered email series, Elite SEM’s strategists applied a fresh perspective, coupled with knowledge of industry best practices. Blenders’ welcome email series for both new subscribers and new customers, along with the brand’s abandoned cart series, were refreshed with new designs and streamlined content that prioritized the call-to-action. Email cadence in each series was also analyzed and adjusted to reflect shoppers’ expectations and preferences. These optimization efforts paid off, driving a whopping 550% increase in revenues generated by triggered emails.
Holiday Initiatives Drive Record Sales
Heading into the 2017 holiday season, Elite SEM’s strategists and designers helped the Blenders team build on the optimization they’d achieved earlier in the year to maximize seasonal sales.
Having laid the groundwork with steady list growth throughout the spring and summer, Elite SEM and Blenders implemented a multi-faceted holiday email strategy that kicked off on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Black Friday deals were released early to subscribers, and then the team kept up the cadence through the weekend with reminders. Elite SEM also helped Blenders deploy a set of limited-time triggered emails to recapture shoppers abandoning their shopping carts over the weekend, as well as those who abandoned their site browsing sessions. The single-message trigger invited shoppers back to Blenders with reminders about the array of limited-time discounts available. Thanks to these efforts, Blenders achieved record email revenue for November that topped 2016 by more than 400%, on conversion gains of more than 38%. November’s revenues alone accounted for more than half of all sales for the fourth quarter.
After such a successful opening salvo, the team continued to engage shoppers throughout the season. In addition to developing such holiday-themed messaging as gift guide recommendations and Free Shipping Day promotions. The team also revamped the e-commerce site’s email signup overlay to include holiday promotion messaging, maximizing visibility. As a result, December’s sales improved even more than November’s had, with gains of 550%, and the conversion rate improved more than 87%.
Social Media Support Inspires Participation
Because Blenders has social media in its DNA, it was essential to incorporate social elements into email campaigns. Elite SEM’s strategists devised a regularly-scheduled “Monthly Blend” email designed to showcase top Instagram hashtag submissions — putting real customers front and center in email content. Blog posts are also regularly featured in email content, and the Blenders welcome campaign invites new subscribers and customers to join the brand’s social media communities.
This year, Elite SEM and Blenders will collaborate to create a triggered email series specifically for the brand’s “Street Team” of official customer representatives, building on the brand’s efforts to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing and stay connected with its young audience. A referral program and repeat purchaser email series will further encourage customer advocacy and participation, in keeping with the brand’s roots.
Blenders has entrusted Elite SEM with design responsibilities as well as continued editorial collaboration, scheduling, and content development — a sign that the close working relationship forged in the partnership’s first year is poised for new successes.