The Unofficial Matilda Jane Email Marketing Focus Group


I am a sucker for a good "at home" party. I go prepared to buy cooking stuff, food, makeup and now, apparently... kids clothes. A friend of mine recently invited me to a Matilda Jane party -- a trunk show for girls, really. And given the fashion icon my daughter strives to be, we were there. No questions asked.

During the party, there was a plethora of other mothers there -- none of whom I knew at all. But during the night, I got asked the question. You know, THE question: "So Kara, what do you do for a living?" So as I start to explain, other moms started to join in the conversation. "Oh I get it, so the email I get from Amazon..." or, "When I buy something from Macy's online..." To which I would reply, "Yes, something like that."  While my company doesn't work with Amazon, it helped to get the story across. Well, what started as a very vanilla conversation quickly turned into the most effective focus group I have ever had the pleasure of engaging with. They started talking about their email behavior, what they read, why they read it, and the No. 1 reason they tend to buy from email.

To set this up for you properly: This was a group of 25 women who were between 30 and 45 years old, all with children ranging in age from infant up to about 12 years old. All had more than one child, some worked in corporate environments, some were stay-at-home moms; all were married and living in suburbia. During the conversation about my career, a number of great statements were made that I tried to dive into more, without completely putting on my "work hat." Based on my conversations with these wonderful women, here is what I found:

"I just think it is so amazing when I look at something on [X brand] site and then get an email for that same, or very similar, item days later."
It’s important to note here that they are recognizing the tie between the website and the email messages they receive. Everyone agreed that they liked that level of attention to detail and the feeling that the brand really knew and understood them as a customer. The key point here -- which I found after further conversation -- was that this warm and fuzzy feeling about product alignment was only for brands that they are actually engaging with and purchasing from. Merely being a subscriber to an email program was not an open door for this type of retargeting or abandon-cart logic.

Takeaway: As you look at your abandon cart or site abandon communications, consider testing performance of those who are active purchasers versus those who have never purchased. You may find that the results mimic this sentiment.

"I will keep brand offers in my email inbox until I am ready to buy something from them."
All of these women were "pilers,” piling content in their inbox until they need it or want it for some reason. As I dug into the conversation, I found it interesting they all recognized it was likely that the offer had expired soon after the point of open -- but what I thought was funny is that each thought that the offer should still be honored. This type of piling behavior certainly isn't great for engagement metrics -- especially as inbox providers are looking it -- but is the harsh reality of how consumers engage with email. The thought process here: “It doesn't matter that it was a convenient time for you, Mr(s). Marketer, to send an email -- I will take advantage of it when I am darn good and ready.”

Takeaway: Just because someone hasn't opened or clicked a message in the last few months doesn't mean you should automatically suppress them from your email program. They could very well be piling up the offers until they are ready to use them. If you ultimately suppress them from those messages, you may lose share of mind and share of wallet.

"Those 'free-shipping' offers get me every time!"
When one of the women said this, they all agreed. It was offers of "free shipping" that drive them to purchase and engage, more immediately than any percent- or dollar-off offer a brand could provide. Having been in this space for so long, I really did believe that free shipping offers were something of an expectation these days -- but it appears, at least from my little impromptu focus group, that free shipping is what really does it for them. A few of them even admitted to seeing "free shipping" in the subject line, opening the message (though they admittedly didn't really *need* anything) and ultimately buying something just so they could take advantage of the free-shipping offer.

Takeway: Just like Morgan's point yesterday, opinions *are* worthless. If asked my opinion, I would say, try something more inventive in the subject line besides "free shipping,” but these women say, NO WAY -- give us free shipping and you get our business. Test it out and see what's best.

The conversations carried on for a bit from there -- a lot of questions about SPAMMERS and how they can unsubscribe without falling victim to scams. Fairly common questions, but nonetheless interesting -- especially with a lovely glass of Shiraz in one hand, and the rest of the bottle not too terribly far away!



What do you think? What interesting tidbits do you get from your non-industry cohorts? Share in the comments. I would LOVE to know.


1 comment about "The Unofficial Matilda Jane Email Marketing Focus Group ".
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  1. Jen Mcgahan from MyTeamConnects, March 29, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.

    Hey Kara, What fun! I just had to jump in here... your observations are so in line with women consumers. We are thrifty and meticulous shoppers, for sure! Holding out for free shipping, saving coupons and products in a designated mailbox, the high rate of shopping cart abandonment -- I suspect are very gender specific. A great strategy would be to email consumer feedback (actual purchasers of previously browsed products) to the hesitant female shopper. Great article!

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