How The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Uses Personalization to Shift Focus From Bottles to Customers
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (TSMWS) has been at the forefront of premium single cask whiskey production since its inception in 1983. With a new group of ambitious investors, the subscription brand needed to refocus from bottle-driven marketing and creative to a more personalized approach. The brand was working with an outdated web platform that had fixed creative assets and little chance to deliver unique messaging.
TSMWS realized that while the products were premium, the customer experience needed an upgrade. The team identified several areas where they weren’t meeting customer expectations. For example, many people were visiting the site and browsing the bottle selection, but only members are allowed to buy. Rather than use that opportunity to start a dialogue with new visitors, the brand found that many people left the site without registering. Similarly, with a generic newsletter and email program, TSMWS wasn’t getting the engagement it expected, especially at its local events.
Two years ago, TSMWS approached Monetate to identify points along the customer life cycle that could be improved with personalization, and set off on a strategic initiative to deliver continuous improvements. Rather than focus on one big splash, such as a personalized homepage graphic, the goal was to improve engagement and conversion in many places across the customer journey.
The team first tackled some logistical issues that were driving away interested new customers. There were too many details to understand when new members were registering. The brand tested to determine the best copy to clarify pricing and improve positioning. By eliminating confusion at a crucial conversion point, TSMWS now has the opportunity to further personalize the membership offer without worrying about further complicating the transaction.
The team also found several areas where they could increase loyalty and sales by leveraging the data they already had about their members to test different messages. They designed content and messages aimed to influence behavior, such as an “early bird renewal” offer that received surprisingly high response rates, encouraging the team to try additional creative options. In particular, the team connected this type of messaging to insights from TSMWS's CRM data. Using its CRM system as a trigger for personalized messaging is like “rocket fuel” for the brand's marketing program, according to Will Richardson, head of digital marketing at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
Another win came when TSMWS decided to start personalizing its emails. In particular, the team tested location-targeted messaging for local events. Not only did they realize that they needed to localize invitations to make them more relevant, but also that different people responded to different kinds of messaging.
These different approaches to smarter, more personalized messaging added up. The brand experienced a 5 percent increase in year-over-year subscription renewals, and have seen much higher revenue per session (34 percent increase), indicating that site visitors are more engaged and that conversion is easier.
TSMWS's efforts show that personalization doesn’t have to be a big top-down effort to deliver major increases in return on investment. Rather, a holistic approach that analyzes every single customer touchpoint offers up tens if not hundreds of smaller opportunities to improve the customer experience.
TSMWS has no plans of slowing down. As the brand sees improvements from each new initiative, it's encouraged to test something new. This “grow as you go” approach can allow brands to see quick wins, even those with outdated, somewhat rigid marketing technology (as TSMWS started out with).
Lisa Kalscheur is chief marketing officer at Kibo, a cloud commerce solutions provider.