Keeping with the theme of narrowly targeted campaigns, Patagonia’s Internet marketing team accepts referrals from relatively few affiliate sites. Rather than working with thousands of coupon or comparison sites, Patagonia works with upwards of 500 affiliates, most of whom provide information of interest to its customers. Most of the company’s affiliate sites describe techniques in an outdoor sport or discuss environmental issues or environmentally friendly products.
Patagonia’s remarkably Web-savvy customers have had much to do with the company’s success in buying multiword keywords and using niche affiliates. “If you look at the technographics of the customers, they’re usually cutting edge in terms of computer systems; we have a larger percentage of Mac users than average, and more current operating systems,” Todd says. “They even have larger computer screens than average.”
Coupled with the fact that 75 percent of its direct sales come in via the Web, these technographics have encouraged Patagonia to build a flashier site. Relying on the faster connections and larger screens of its customers, Patagonia’s site contains wider images and “heavier” site design. Heavier design implies larger files or images that would take longer to load on a slower Internet connection.
Data, Data Everywhere
One of Patagonia’s direct marketing team’s proudest accomplishments is its new relational database. Built using Abacus’ ClearEDGE technology, this database tracks the recency, frequency and monetary value of Patagonia’s customers, as well as each customer’s path to purchase, e.g., whether the customer received a catalog before performing a Google search that led to buying high-performance long underwear.
The database allows the catalog to explore a vast array of segmentation options and shed light on mistakes made with respect to circulation, says Morlee Griswold, Patagonia’s director of direct marketing. Early last year, following research that showed most of Patagonia’s direct customers bought via the Web, she cut catalog circ by one-third, thinking that the book wasn’t all that important to the buying process. Following the cut in circ, sales dropped immediately, even after increasing spending on search and e-mail, Griswold recalls. After some database analysis, she determined that it wasn’t simply that sales overall had decreased. The biggest drop in conversion happened with Patagonia’s very best customers, who were buying elsewhere when they didn’t receive catalogs as frequently.