The secret ingredient in Mr. Beer's customer engagement plan

How home brewing outfit Mr. Beer tapped a digital marketing automation platform to start cooking up a new tailored messaging approach

Mr. Beer has been around since the late 1990s, offering home brewing kits in the US and globally thanks to the reach of ecommerce. It was bought in 2012 by Australia’s family-owned Coopers brewery, which has been in the market for 150 years. 

“They've been a great partner to work with and helped us transform what we're doing - ingredients-wise and what we've been able to offer to our customers,” Mr Beer manager of sales, digital marketing and ecommerce, Robert Lewis, told CMO

Yet with a growing customer database, the company was facing two problems: Lack of a strong automated email engagement program, and a solution to entice customers with relevant offers. Lacking automation, the team had to manually organise customer data, a time-consuming process without any insights to guide decision making in the process.

The company also wanted to up its game in capturing customer attention and increase its sales through relevant and exciting workflows. Therefore, Mr. Beer needed long-term solutions for its growing business and reached out to a range of marketing automation solution providers.

The solution: Segmentation

Mr. Beer opted for dotdigital’s Engagement Cloud as its marketing automation solution. Lewis highlighted the number of data segments in dotdigital’s platform and the ability to capture and funnel them effectively as offering many possibilities. 

“It’s not just the amount of data, but the way the data is shaped and provided to us which really helps,” Lewis said. “What we've really liked with Engagement Cloud, which we haven't seen other platforms, is the way it is able to manipulate and construct the data that helps us make proper decisions and something that no one else has really done that well, that we've seen from what we've used in the past.”

The personal touch can sometimes be lost with technology and automation, yet more and more research finds personalisation is rated highly customers and growth figures bear this out. It was “critical”, Lewis said, to have individual communications for the homebrewing business, a hobby which can attract those looking for an distinct expression in their own craft beer making.

“In an age of growing technology, where things are super automated and not touched by people, it’s essential to really customise something to the individual,” he said.

Mr. Beer experimented with different marketing techniques and systems, with particular emphasis on dotdigital’s recency, frequency and monetary value model (RFM) tool. Utilising this tool, Mr. Beer can choose which RFM personas to target with tailored messaging, allowing them to message those people who spend on multiple occasions who are likely to spend again or those who make big purchases who are likely to repeat. It made visualising and manipulating customer data an easier job for its users of the platform.

“It creates a different feeling, a different type of emotion, in customers because they feel like you're trying to create that special feeling and you truly care about them," he continued. "So that's where those personas really made a difference for us. We were able to construct messages which really resonate with people better than better than what we thought it would do.” 

The results

Before adopting Engagement Cloud, Mr. Beer conducted inactive workflows. After replacing the workflow in these automations with dotdigital RFM segments it outperformed those previous workflows, with an outstanding increase in customer orders by 800 per cent.

Lewis said the amount of volume driven through was unexpected and the number of inactive customers it brought back was beyond expectations.

“Hundreds of people who haven't bought from the website in over two years returned, which was extremely unexpected," he said.

Example of an inactive customer campaignCredit: Mr Beer
Example of an inactive customer campaign

In addition, the results helped turn conventional logic that customers inactive for two years or more need to be retired from active consideration on its head.

“They're pretty much just kind of written off in your focus on acquiring new customers,” Lewis said. But this has all changed with the new approach, giving rise to a “shift in perspective”.

“There's a lot more to be done on those customers who sort of drift away. There's just a lot more potential there than you might have once thought.”

For Lewis, the results to date prove the old adage that it's cheaper to keep your customers than acquire new customers. 

“That means we still look at those inactive people as our customers and you just have to offer them a value that brings them back if someone hasn't dealt with you in two years,” he said. “It's really a unique perspective to capture who your champion customers are as well as who's falling off the board. It's a unique way to look at it, from the way most ecommerce companies are looking at their customer base.”

Looking down the track, Mr. Beer intends to continue to develop the focus on its customers by enhancing engagement through more personalised emails and direct product recommendations. This is about going beyond promotional emails from Mr. Beer to becoming a partner tailored to customer need. To do this, the retailer is looking at incorporating SMS messaging offers and also Facebook messaging.

“Retargeting an offer, so you can communicate with customers through Facebook Messenger and so on, which we have seen results with other companies that seem to do really well,” Lewis said. “They're some of the platforms and some of the levers we're looking at in the next few months.”

And like almost every ecommerce business these days, Mr Beer has an eye on keeping up with Amazon. While the online retail behemoth isn’t a direct competitor, Lewis said it nonetheless figures in the broader online market. For the homebrew business, it’s about finding the things it can excel at, like the personal touch and respecting customer’s time, something far more challenging for Amazon because of its sheer size and volume of business.

“We can counter offer with that personal touch and customer service aspect of just being available with real people for our customers,” Lewis said. “When companies want to take the time and talk with their customers and answer phone calls and have real people talk to them, it creates a different value from other big companies, which just can't do it.

“What is most precious to anybody today is time.”

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