Customer journey breakdown: J. Crew – Timing

Being a marketer is hard. Developing your creative, finding the right segment, and dealing with the endless feedback from your decision makers takes up most of our day. The details are lost in the turbulence. You’re not alone—even the brands that we love most can miss the details that separate a great campaign from an average campaign.

J. Crew is a premium clothing line that has classics, with a twist, and style you can trust. The company has over 500 locations with their items also being sold in Nordstrom stores. In recent years J. Crew has gone through changes such as CEO Mickey Drexler stepping down after 14 years with the company in 2017. Then in 2018 newly appointed CEO James Brett stepped down and was replaced by four internal J. Crew executives.

This is the first post in a series focusing on J. Crew, highlighting some things that we’d do differently. Their brand is timeless, but their email communication lacks timing. Let’s get to it!

 

Day 1 – Maybe it’s the right time

 

But, it’s not the right time for us, J. Crew.

Timing can be our best friend or worst enemy. Hit the L train in stride as the doors close behind you—a feeling of relief rushes over you. Watch the doors close and see the train pull away as you set foot on the platform—30 min late to work.

This same concept applies to the emails we send. Hit the inbox right when the customer is ready to shop all the work you put into this message is realized. One of 15 other brands that sent their email too early? The message never sees the light of the computer screen.

Here’s what my inbox looks like:

 

 

Intense, right? That’s an email from 14 different brands before I even made it to my computer. Notice J. Crew in there at 3:53 am.  

How did all these marketers decide to send these emails to me at this time?

Without the proper tools, the problem is difficult. A multi-step process is common:

  1. Segment
  2. Create templates for each time zone
  3. Hope the time you picked is right for a large percentage of your customers
  4. Cross your fingers, toes, hands, and legs that you have great engagement.

How does J. Crew tackle this? A company that has large resources and assets should have this down cold, right?  

Just like you, their time and resources are limited so they tend to deploy emails at the same time each day, with what seems like negligible testing or knowledge of their customer habits to be found.

Don’t believe us? We present Exhibit A, two email inboxes from users with different behavior patterns who both reside on the West Coast.

 

Customer Profile 1

 

Customer Profile 2

 

Two different people, two different habits yet an incredibly similar email experience.

I do my online shopping best with a beer in my hand, some time to kill, while watching reruns of Jeopardy (duh, I’m a data nerd). So when J. Crew sends an email at 6:30 am, the chances that I saw their email or that I dig back through my now 67 emails I received throughout the day are slim to none.

Maybe this isn’t easy with the tools you have? It takes time, effort, and the right data to make this happen consistently.

Here’s an outline on how to improve your timing optimization.

 

  1. Segment your users by geography. We would recommend creating at minimum 4 groups, Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time. Bonus points if you can also segment by country.
  2. Plan your testing procedures for each of these segments
    • Start by thinking about your consumer. If you’re J. Crew, the price point of your products means your consumers are likely 9-to-5 professionals.
    • Pick a few hypotheses to A/B test on each of your segments
      • The beginning of the work day
      • Lunch Time
      • End of the work day – this could even be shifted by a few hours to account for traffic or commute time
  3. Define your testing timeline
  4. Define your success metrics, this can be engagement based (Open + Clicks), or revenue based.
  5. Go forth and perform your tests
  6. Repeat this process every 6 months or so to see if anything has changed

 

Personalization like this creates great customer experiences—it takes dedicated work and the right solution. You can work harder, but there are also ways to work smarter. Try to seek out technologies that may have these features built-in and you’ll be able to focus on the larger picture.

Our next post on J. Crew is on its way, but in the mean time be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know. We’ve also done breakdowns for companies like Bonobos, and Warby Parker that you can also check out.

Here’s another thing you might find useful: The Data-Driven Marketer’s Guide to Email Marketing. Download the free guide to get insights from our team of data science and marketing experts.

 

About the author

Nick Hein is the Director of Sales at ReSci. He’s passionate about all things marketing and has a wicked golf swing that he claims to be better pre-thumb injury.


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ReSci is a team of marketers and data scientists on a mission to democratize AI. We make powerful recommendations and predictions accessible to brands. Find out how we can help you connect with your customers.