The Email Marketing Strategy Behind a $1 Billion Brand
by Emily Graham
Patagonia is unlike most consumer brands in existence today. Since the beginning, the company has always stuck to its mission of creating products that defy the conventional way of doing things. Clearly, there are many things that they are doing right when it comes to their overall marketing strategy. The company has grown significantly over the last few years and much of that growth has been driven by its email marketing.
Patagonia—you’ve probably heard of it. It’s the clothing brand designing apparel for outdoor adventurers, with a passion for sustainability and environmental conservation. Patagonia is also a brand generating around $800 million in revenue every year.
That’s a lot of down jackets.
The company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, was inspired to start the business after spending most of his youth climbing mountains in North America and the Alps, sometimes living on no more than 50 cents per day.
So how did a business run from the backseat Chouinard’s car transform into a brand worth $1.2 billion today? We took a look into Patagonia’s marketing approach and analyzed its e-commerce strategy to find answers. What we discovered was a marketing strategy that, despite the company’s current success, still has plenty of room for growth and improvement.
As email marketing Gurus, we are experts when it comes to identifying how business’ can optimize their e-commerce strategy, no matter their size or success rate.
Our case study dives into Patagonia’s strategic strengths and weaknesses with examples that other businesses can learn from, as well as proposed solutions.
Here are some of the highlights.
A brand story that sticks
There’s plenty to be said about the power of emotional marketing, and Patagonia is a prime example of a brand that knows how to wield it.
Activism is a prominent part of Patagonia’s DNA, and has been from the very beginning. The brand is built around a mission to promote environmental conservation by “[using] the resources we have—our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations”. It even has a navigation tab on its website for activism projects that consumers can be a part of.
We can see that Patagonia entices customers through this strong sense of ethos and carefully curated brand mission. Take their 2012 waste-reduction campaign for example. Here, the brand launched a campaign to encourage customers to reduce the amount of clothing they buy in their lifetime in an effort to be more sustainable. That might seem counterintuitive for a clothing store, yet the following year saw Patagonia sales grow by $543 million!
Transparency builds loyalty
Patagonia, in keeping with its mission to remain environmentally conscious, has also tapped into a burgeoning consumer trend towards ethical fashion.
As such, materials and manufacturing sources are clearly outlined, not only for quality assurance but also to provide transparency on how the clothing their customers are wearing was made.
By offering a multifaceted take on sustainability and ethical consumption, Patagonia has established a reputation as trustworthy, high-quality and genuine in their mission, which resonates with customers—who are likely to continue shopping with a brand that guarantees lifetime satisfaction for their products and your conscience.
Where to go from here
Though building customer loyalty through brand image is important, Patagonia has left some large gaps in other areas of its marketing strategy, neglecting best practices when it comes to customer engagement.
Here are the recommendations we covered in our case study.
Personalize you communications
With so many businesses competing for attention in the e-commerce world, consumers are crying out for brands to show them that they understand them. That’s why it’s important to use your customer data to tailor communications, product recommendations and provide offers based on their interactions with your brand.
We found that Patagonia could benefit from more detailed segmentation of customers, using data such as gender, cart value or browser behavior.
Use automated flows to your advantage
In our research, we discovered that Patagonia did not meet the minimum number of emails that we recommend for optimized results. Currently, email stands as one of the most profitable sources of marketing for e-commerce stores so taking advantage of email marketing automations is key.
There are 5 main flows that we recommend to every business:
Our case study dives into which of these flows Patagonia could start using, as well as how to deploy them successfully.
For Patagonia, we discovered that there were no pop-ups across the site.
When our Growth Gurus recommend using pop-ups, we aren’t referring to annoying spam notifications that consumers can’t click away from. We are talking about unintrusive data collection forms that incentivize customers to share their information with you.
These pop-ups are crucial to maintaining a relationship with your site visitors—so if they click away, you won’t lose that potential customer forever. We believe that lead collection is an important step for every business with a growth mindset, and helps you to improve the customer journey.
To see our in-depth research, find detailed recommendations, and read our analysis of Patagonia’s climb to success, download the Growth Gurus’ case study today.