Sep 16, 2014

BonLook’s Data-Driven Emails

If you’ve ever shopped for glasses, you know that one size never, ever fits all. Online eyewear retailer BonLook knows this, too, which is why their website offers a virtual try-on feature and a perfect fit questionnaire to help guide customers through their hundreds of stylish, vintage-inspired options.

The Montreal-based company, which began selling to the US in 2010 and Canada last year, also knows there’s no such thing as standard-issue email marketing. They use MailChimp to send two versions of their campaigns, one in English and one in French, segmenting their list by geographic location. And they also employ purchase data—and sometimes even lack of purchase data—to send targeted product emails and discount offers.


Sophie Boulanger, BonLook’s co-founder and vice president of merchandising, understands how shopping for glasses online can be stressful. After all, what looks good on the page doesn’t always look good on the face. But she also knows that, if she can get a someone over that hurdle of clicking “buy” for the first time, they’re more likely to convert into a repeat customer.

So Boulanger and her team look at subscribers’ member ratings and purchase histories to determine who needs an extra push to purchase. Lovely as BonLook’s emails are, no one’s reading them just for funsies. The folks actively opening and clicking each campaign, but not buying, might just need a little encouragement. BonLook will every so often send targeted emails offering those power-browsers a discount, usually 15% off their first purchase, nudging them to finally buy.

When any subscriber makes a purchase, BonLook shifts their email strategy ever so slightly. Using segmentation, they find customers who’ve bought something within the last 30 days and dial down the number of promotional campaigns they’re sent, especially ones including discounts. (We’re a big fan of reducing irrelevance for customers, and this is a great example of that.) This means less email for someone to fuss with during a time they’re unlikely to buy anyway, and no feelings of remorse for missing out on other discounts or sales.


Once a customer is mixed back into the main list, about 30 days after making a purchase, they’re hardly forgotten. Using Mandrill, BonLook sends occasional emails recommending guaranteed-to-fit new products based on frames a customer bought in the past. Because they’ve already made one purchase, they’re more likely to make another. One size never fits all, but sometimes you can get pretty close.