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With a database of more than 1.6-million engaged customers, email was a cost-effective, direct and powerful link with Netflorist's audience. Picture: UNSPLASH/RUPIXEN
With a database of more than 1.6-million engaged customers, email was a cost-effective, direct and powerful link with Netflorist's audience. Picture: UNSPLASH/RUPIXEN

As SA’s largest same-day gift and flower delivery e-commerce provider, NetFlorist is arguably one of the country’s most innovative — and beloved — home-grown brands. With a large and loyal base of customers, the company has been able to respond to user feedback to improve its service delivery and the vibrant and personalised brand communications that have become synonymous with NetFlorist.

When the national lockdown was announced in response to the global pandemic, and level 5 restrictions forced many businesses to close their doors, NetFlorist drew on its core DNA — agility, innovation and world-class customer service — to not only sustain revenue but to provide fresh fruit and vegetables (along with other essential items) to customers during the crisis.   

“When the lockdown was announced, we quickly identified the opportunity to leverage our existing infrastructure to start delivering fresh produce,” said Thalissa Pillay, NetFlorist marketing manager. “There was a clear need for next-day delivery, and ideally same-day delivery, as most retailers were only able to deliver orders within a two-week period.

“We also had an existing relationship with Fruitspot, which is nationwide and normally delivers to restaurants. With restaurants forced to close, Fruitspot had extra produce, so there was a great symbiosis in fulfilling both business and customer needs during this 21-day period.”  

Given the negative economic impact and sense of uncertainty caused by lockdown, the primary challenge for NetFlorist’s ambition of growing same-day fresh produce delivery was the question of how to market the new service without spending money on expensive acquisitions. The company had halted spending on various channels, including AdWords and social media marketing.

Instinctively, the company turned to one of the fundamental pillars of its existing (and popular with their audience) marketing channel: e-mail. With a database of more than 1.6-million engaged customers, e-mail represented a cost-effective, direct and powerful link with their audience — who were going online far more frequently because they were forced indoors.

“We also knew that we could depend on our long-term partnership with Everlytic, which provides us with the software that enables the team to create timely, multichannel digital messages. Using this software, we were able to get the e-mail campaign up and running with very little lead time,” said Pillay.

Simplicity and personalisation

By drawing on the established NetFlorist expertise and experience, the company was able to send customised e-mails out almost every day from April 2. The service initially rolled out in Joburg to fix any teething problems before expanding to the rest of the country.

Importantly, the team had to communicate that NetFlorist could no longer sell flowers during this time, but fresh produce and household items such as laundry detergent — and this required simple messaging and a subtle change in tone from the usual tongue-in-cheek approach.

Everlytic relationship manager Hellen Ndebele. Picture: SUPPLIED/EVERLYTIC
Everlytic relationship manager Hellen Ndebele. Picture: SUPPLIED/EVERLYTIC

Personalisation was also key, and the team made sure to segment customer bases to target specific audiences — while also optimising the customer experience for cellphone users.

Along with using catchy subject lines, the timing of each e-mail was important, with the morning often being the ideal time to send out e-mails. NetFlorist also provided the occasional exclusive offer to generate additional value and reward customers for their loyalty.

“The results of the e-mail campaign really spoke for themselves, with a whopping 170% year-on-year increase in mobile e-mail traffic — with e-mail very clearly the top contributor to our overall traffic and site activity, even outside specific campaigns,” said Pillay. “When we analysed the percentage of total sales revenue generated by each marketing activity in April 2020, including e-mail, SEO, direct sales, Google search and so on, e-mail consistently delivered a significant portion of total revenue.” 

Everlytic relationship manager Hellen Ndebele, said the e-mail campaign was highly successful, in large part due to the technical expertise within the NetFlorist team.

“The execution of their campaigns is meticulous and consistently downright perfect,” said Ndebele. “The e-mail designs, segmentation of data, use of personalisation and the use of our e-mail staggering feature are key factors for their success.

“In addition, our long-standing relationship is a key strength for both companies. We have learnt to collaborate and check in with each other to ensure that none of us drop the ball in terms of key deliverables. Ultimately, this campaign demonstrated how powerful a targeted e-mail campaign can be in the all-important indicator: ROI [return on investment].” 

For NetFlorist, a key part of the success of their e-mail campaigns is the enhanced visibility provided by the Everlytic platform, which provides detailed insights into campaign performance — enabling NetFlorist to continually tweak and perfect e-mail campaigns from every angle.

“Without a doubt, our e-mail campaign was the reason we survived the strict 21-day lockdown, and were able to pivot as seamlessly as we did,” said Pillay.

This article was paid for by Everlytic.

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