How Vitamix's relationship marketing efforts resulted in member loyalty and sales

Blender manufacturer details its email marketing improvement journey and customer loyalty program efforts

Blender manufacturer, Vitamix, has acquired more than 80,000 customer loyalty program members triggering over 18,000 member purchases after making a concerted effort to embrace relationship marketing.

Vitamix associate manager, email marketing, Jimmy Wojtila, detailed how the business has spent the past year building out its customer lifecycle marketing prowess off the back of ongoing improvements to its email marketing approach during recent Adobe Summit online event.

The company, which has been in business for nearly 100 years, first set out to improve its email marketing capability in 2017. Wotjila said its original set-up was extremely limited by lack of integration with its email service provider, almost complete reliance on an external partner, and limited segmentation capability due to a lack of known customer attributes and unclean data.

As a result, a batch-and-blast approach was very much in play. So steps were taken to clean data, find an email tool that could expand and grow as the organisation experienced growth, and created a clear path towards segmentation, personalisation and automation, he said. The tech platform selected was Adobe Campaign.

Phase one was completed in four months, and customer data migrated in three months, with the email platform fully integrated with all internal systems within a year. This allowed Vitamix to start improving email activity across eight direct markets globally as well as via indirect segments.

“Over the last two years, we brought on a technical partner, RR Donnelley, helping with more complex programming and workflow implementations,” Wotjila said. “Off this, we have seen a consistency healthy database, strong email engagement and deliverability, and been able to launch programs and campaigns that weren’t possible in our previous environment.”

Upping the customer loyalty ante

But by 2019, Vitamix was experiencing more competitive challenges, and customers were growing fatigued with a heavy promotional calendar. A lack of personalisation was also resulting in disconnect and a decrease in email engagement, Wotjila said.

“In our mission statement, we state clearly that our mission is to create relationships for now. Which made it only fitting to refocus our marketing to being a relationship focused brand,” he said. “It was time to re-establish trust and work not only towards acquisition, but build relationships with current customers to increase retention and advocacy.”  

Key initiatives ensued, including Vitamix Rewards, initially launched online in the US and Canada in June 2019 in partnership with CrowdTwist. The digital portal offers new recipes, articles and sweepstakes information upon logging in, plus current points balance and a loyalty rewards catalogue of both Vitamix branded products and third-party offerings such as Blueapple, Coconut Bowl and Skura Styles.

“The goal was to increase engagement and advocacy by igniting our fan base, ensuring end-user success, and providing new, frequent education content,” Wotjila said.

Members are also encouraged to engage through social media, register their product and write product and recipe reviews. Another key feature is ‘invite and refer a friend’ a capability.

“We can understand them at a deeper level and anticipate their needs as we create new content, products and accessories,” he said. “And it’s helped facilitate partnerships that were difficult to execute in the past, such as those with Daily Harvest and The Ellen Show.”

As a pre-launch teaser, Vitamix worked with partner, Movable Ink, to create an email campaign with a scratch-off panel, which customers could scratch off to reveal the new loyalty rewards program information. This included free 500 bonus points offer if they pre-registered. Wotjila said it drove nearly 20,000 pre-registrations, seeing email become the number one traffic driver for new member acquisition.

The customer loyalty program also encompasses quarterly sweepstakes, product giveaways, travel vouchers and tickets to live tapings of The Ellen Show. Further, Vitamix is running partner events, and product sales where it discounts certain products. Occasional surprise and delight emails, which are usually aligned with major holiday or sweepstakes, then give members access to reward point bonuses or top them up with enough points to enter a sweepstake.

One recent addition has been monthly recap emails for members, work which involved a three-way integration with Adobe Campaign, Movable Ink and CrowdTwist. Dynamic content is served up from the rewards portal, and two new fields have been included: Loyalty flag and unique member ID.

“Upon creating a rewards profile, this flag you as member and add your member ID to email profile table. It allows us to serve personalised content through Movable Ink’s dynamic content modules, such as current points balance, membership join dates, total points earned and redeemed,” Wotjila explained.

“This is intended to remind members to log in, complete more activities and redeem rewards. It gives us the opportunity to feature partner rewards or current sweepstakes.”

Since launching last year, Vitamix has acquired more than 80,000 members and is on trend to hit 100,000 members by end of 2020.

For Wotjila, this was just start of shifting to become a relationship-led brand. Another program to debut was My Vitamix 30, a 30-day challenge giving machine owners an introduction into food blending over four-weeks. Content goes from introductory blends like smoothies to more challenging blends, such as frozen desserts or dough, Wotjila said. Customers can self-guide through the microsite or via the rewards portal, and gain points for engaging with content. Or they can sign up to a dedicated email.

“If you click to join, a form pops up, and a workflow is set up so Adobe Campaign will recognise country code and send customer email journey in language for that market. In email editor, we can use multi-lingual preview feature to see how email will render,” Wotjila said. “Our intention is to further strengthen our trust bond with customers and reinforce we’re there for them. And it’s led to advocacy and decreases in returns.”

The third innovation has been Vitamix’s ‘Recipe of the week’ program, born out of surveys suggesting 14 per cent of customers would like more recipe content via email. Wotjila said this started out as a weekly email only to engaged owners, or those who had opened or clicked content in last 30-120 days. Since then, it’s been extended to most engaged audiences across the US and Canada, UK and Australia.

Wotjila cited a 33 per cent overage open rate on the recipes, and 5 per cent average clickthrough rates.

“To continue innovating, we’re going to relaunch of our opt-in welcome experience, with new CTAs for new email subscribers to join Vitamix Rewards,” Wotjila said. Vitamix is also migrating shopping trigger emails to the same source, ensuring easier integration for future email workflows. In Vitamix Rewards, Wotjila hoped to continue iterating monthly recaps, plus birthday and referral rewards triggers.

Overall, Wotjila cited 140,000 engagements with recipes and techniques online, 1800 product reviews, 15000 Vitamix machines registered, 6000 survey responses and 18000 member purchases off the back of relationship marketing efforts to date. Deliverability is also 98-99 per cent every month.

Read more of our coverage of brand customer loyalty program innovations:

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