Industry Eye: Case Study - Green Valley Pecan Co. Is Nuts About Its Revamped Marketing Database
Problem: Green Valley Pecan Co., a multichannel retailer of pecans and other assorted nuts, sought a more sophisticated marketing database to help acquire, retain and grow its customer base.
Solution: Hired a marketing agency to refine its strategies.
Results: Increased sales and profits in each of the past five years. Web traffic, page views and time spent per page are up 50 percent, 102 percent and 35 percent, respectively, this year vs. 2008. Internet orders now account for close to 50 percent of all sales. The company is enjoying savings of nearly $10,000 annually from printing and postage costs thanks to a cleaner customer database.
Pecan trees weren’t the only things that needed to grow for Green Valley Pecan to remain in business. A customer database that had atrophied over the years left the 61-year-old family-run business stagnant and looking for answers. Poor data hygiene, lackluster creative, uninspiring merchandise presentation, and unsophisticated data analysis and e-commerce capabilities all were holding the company back.
So five years ago, the Sahuarita, Ariz.-based Green Valley Pecan Co. reached out to AIR Marketing for help. Initially consulting on creative printing and direct mail services related to Green Valley Pecan’s mail order catalog, AIR has since worked closely with Green Valley on everything from customer database segmentation to email to social networking.
In that time, Green Valley’s sales and profits have increased each year, with total revenues this year surpassing $1 million. The merchant operates one store, a catalog and an e-commerce website.
A database that was a mere listing of customers who’d purchased from Green Valley Pecan one way or another impeded the company’s ability to effectively resell to past patrons. And without regular merge/purge processes and National Change of Address updates, many of the names on that list were useless. AIR has helped clean that up.
“We were mailing catalogs to people who were deceased, or spouses who had lost their significant others,” recalls Deborah Walden, Green Valley Pecan’s director of marketing and sales. “Now, we’re not only saving money on postage and printing, but we’re also able to mail catalogs to solid customers who are going to make that purchase and come back.”
Green Valley Pecan now tracks purchase channel, geography, email address, key purchase months, purchase history, etc., all enabling it to communicate better with its customers.
“We wanted to be able to expand that current database to acquire email addresses,” Walden says. Now the company can determine what kind of customers are shopping with it, their demographics, where they live and their income levels, among other factors. “We’re just trying to segment in ways to be able to sell to them more efficiently and cost effectively — creating relevant offers and benefits,” she adds.
Noting the cost benefits of acquiring and marketing to customers online, as well as receiving orders online, Green Valley Pecan has made a concerted effort to increase its presence there. “As of last year’s annual planning cycle, Green Valley Pecan has reallocated a lot of its investment from traditional media to online media,” says AIR Marketing Vice President Frank Baselice.
Green Valley Pecan uses email to contact its current and past customers more frequently to maintain top of mind and boost sales. Those email messages are driving customers — web traffic is up 50 percent this year over last — to the company’s redesigned website.
Improved navigation, implementation of e-commerce best practices — such as seasonally adjusting the homepage to keep it fresh and current with special holiday offers — and improved shopping cart functionality — e.g., enhancing the size of product shots on the checkout page — have combined to draw more customers to the site and increase online orders.