All Star Conversations: 4 of Our Favorite Stories from this Year’s All Star Awards

Here at Constant Contact, there’s nothing we enjoy more than celebrating the success of our customers.

That’s what the Constant Contact All Star Awards are all about.

You work hard to connect with your customers; we see you do it every day. The Constant Contact All Star awards recognize our customers who excel at using Constant Contact’s small business marketing tools to engage with their own customers and build great relationships.

Each year we hear incredible stories from our winners and this year was no different!

Here are some of our favorite stories from this year’s awards:

Camp Unleashed — Top Overall All Star Winner

CampUnleashedWhen Annie Brody founded Camp Unleashed  in 2004, she knew she was starting something special.

Camp Unleashed is a camp unlike any other. It’s a place for people and their dogs to deepen their relationships in a place outside of the “human world.” It was founded on the premise that dogs need a vacation from the human world—a place where they can be off leash, safe, and in a pack with other dogs in their own natural environment.

“For me, it’s always been a lot more about a passion than a profit,” Annie explains. “I knew there would be people who would be interested in what I was doing, but we’re definitely unique.”

Growing their pack with email marketing

Annie has been a Constant Contact customer since the summer of 2004, right around the time she welcomed her first group of guests to Camp Unleashed.

At the time, she had only one location and started with a group of 10 people and 10 dogs. Those first guests would be some of her first email contacts, along with a list of email addresses she had collected through friends who interested in what she was doing.

Email Marketing lets us reach a wider audience and stay connected with people who come to the camp throughout the year,” Annie explains. “As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to do a lot more with our email marketing.”

To help grow her email lists, Annie added a sign-up form to her website and Facebook Page. She also makes sure to collect information from every person who signs up to attend one of her camps.

Over the last 9 years, the camp has grown quite a bit—expanding beyond Massachusetts to Asheville, North Carolina in 2010 and then to West Coast with Camp Sequoia Lake in 2011. Her list of email contacts has grown to over 1,960 and her monthly emails are seeing an average open rate of 46%.

All Star Advice

“Take advantage of all the education options Constant Contact has available. Think about your particular business or organization’s needs and look to Constant Contact to give you the help you need. Having that expert advice and support was a key to our success.”

Thistle Threads — Highest Open Rates

ThistleWhen Tricia Nguyen started using Email Marketing from Constant Contact in 2009, she had no idea that less than four years later she’d be recognized as a top All Star award winner.

Like a lot of small business owners, her email marketing experience started in the classroom—at a Constant Contact Email Marketing Boot Camp.

“When I started my business, I knew wanted to get my email marketing program up and running right away,” explains Tricia, owner of Thistle Threads. “The Boot Camp was exactly what I needed.”

Thistle Threads is a multifaceted business—made up of both a retail business that sells hard-to-find supplies and specialty kits for people who are passionate about embroidery, and an educational program that trains students to recreate historical pieces.

Started as a “hobby business,” Tricia says Thistle Threads has transformed into something much larger than she ever expected.

“Constant Contact has really transformed my business from a hobby to my primary business,” explains Tricia who is also an engineer for a Boston-based consulting firm.

Building an engaged community

In addition to giving passionate hobbyists the tools and training they need to practice their craft, Thistle Threads has given its customers and students the chance to join a unique global community.

“One of the best things we’ve seen is the type of community our classes have created,” explains Tricia. “People are able to connect, learn from each other, and share their interests. It’s been great.”

That, says Tricia, is one of the biggest parts of their success in the inbox.

All Star Advice

“We’re fortunate to be part of a passionate community of people. We work hard to grow that community, give people the information they need to be successful, and make it easy for them to connect and learn more. It’s been hugely successful for our business.”

McDonald Wildlife Photography — Best B2C

McDonald

Joe McDonald and his wife, Mary, run unique photography seminars, workshops, and tours that range from personalized photography instruction to week-long excursions around the globe. Most recently, the couple spent 7 weeks in India, photographing snow leopards in the upper Himalayas.

Because they’re always on the road (Joe and Mary spend more than 25 weeks travelling each year!), they wanted to find an easy way to connect with their contacts and keep them informed of all upcoming trips and events.

“Our problem in the past would be when people were not aware of all the trips we had available,” Joe explains. “Up until we started using Constant Contact we just had everything on our website. From a marketing sense, that’s the wrong approach because it puts the burden on our customers.”

Finding a better solution with email marketing

With Email Marketing from Constant Contact, Joe and Mary are able to reach their contacts directly. It’s easy for them to keep their contacts updated by sending a quick email and they are able to drive a lot of traffic to their website by including a lot of links as well. As far as business results, almost every McDonald Wildlife tour is sold out, often within days after sending an email.

In Joe’s words, “The goal is to notify people of travel opportunities both in the near future and further down the road. Constant Contact is great for filling any last minute spots for a trip.”

All Star Advice

 “Keep it simple. Don’t over-include content. When I see an email with too much text, I feel overwhelmed with text and not interested in what they’re saying. So keep it visual, keep it simple and keep it brief.”

Liberty Jane Clothing — Best Use of the JMML Tool

Liberty JAneWith over 24,000 email contacts, it’s safe to say that Liberty Jane Clothing knows a thing or two about how to grow an active and engaged email list.

“My wife and I started Liberty Jane Clothing in 2008,” recalls Jason Miles, owner of Liberty Jane Clothing which makes beautifully crafted handmade outfits for American Girl Dolls. “It wasn’t until the next year that we started thinking about email marketing or why we should be growing our list.”

Jason signed up for Constant Contact in 2009. His first email went out to a list of 125 contacts.

An all star strategy for growing your email list

With a newly launched website and plans to send weekly newsletter to help drive traffic and new business for Liberty Jane Clothing, Jason knew right away that he needed to grow his list.

One of the first things he did was add a signup form to the Liberty Jane Clothing homepage using the Join My Mailing List tool from Constant Contact. He also added the form to his Facebook, which was already attracting a lot of attention from its fans.

But while it didn’t take long to get people excited about signing up for their weekly email updates, Jason thought it would be a good idea to offer an additional incentive to new subscribers.

“We decided to offer 2 free patterns to anyone who joins our list,” Jason explains. “It gives people a compelling reason to act and helps us stay connected.”

Over the last few years, email marketing has become a centerpiece of the Liberty Jane Clothing marketing strategy. In the last year, Liberty Jane has doubled its business—reaching new customers throughout the country and staying connected throughout the year.

All Star Advice

“This year we decided to give Facebook Ads a try. But instead of driving people directly to our Page, we used the Ad to drive people to our email signup form. We added 2,395 contacts in January alone. For us it was worth the investment.”

Set Your Own All Star Goals

As you can see, all of our 2012 All Star winners had plenty of challenges and obstacles to face along the way. But by finding a strategy that works for them, listening to their customers and members, and taking advantage of the tools and training that was available, they all were able to reach their goals and do great things with email marketing!

What email marketing challenges do you want to overcome in 2013 and how can we help? Let me know in the comments below!

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