On Monday, fashion brand Draper James debuted an update to its ongoing SMS strategy. The company has experimented with SMS marketing for the last year, and it has driven strong revenue growth since the start of the pandemic, said CEO Erin Moennich. The new feature, called DJElf, is a gift concierge that customers can text to get guidance on finding the perfect gift for a loved one.
Prior, Draper James’ text strategy was entirely one-way; the brand sent messages to customers informing them about new product launches and deals, but didn’t intake any text messages from customers. The gift concierge, on the other hand, allows customers to converse back-and-forth with store associates at the brand’s Nashville store.
The idea for DJElf came from the fact that Draper James’ SMS customers were highly engaged, compared to customers on other channels. Moennich said the brand’s customer list for SMS is about 15% the size of the email list, but the channel drives 4-5 times more revenue than email. Exact revenue driven is difficult to pinpoint because SMS does not allow for tracking of open rates the way email does, she said.
“SMS is a newer channel, and customers are much more selective about who they opt-in to get texts from, [compared to] email,” Moennich said. “And we operate [SMS and email] very differently. We email almost every day, like six times a week. For SMS, we message no more than twice a week.” Aside from frequency, the content of Draper James’ typical SMS marketing is similar to its emails.
For the last year, the brand has managed its texts via mobile messaging startup Attentive. Moennich said the gift concierge service is a way to get some use out of the brand’s Nashville store team, who are frequently highlighted in marketing. Around 50% of the brand’s customers are in the South, and all of its three stores are in that region.
In April, when it debuted its first loungewear collections, the company backed off paid social ads to focus more on organic marketing and growing its email and SMS lists.
Moennich said the No. 1 way customers find and join the SMS list is through email, with the rest coming from the brand’s online store which includes an opt-in option for SMS. The concierge will run through the holidays, though Moennich said she wants to continue some form of conversational SMS service into next year. The gift concierge offering is being promoted to both existing SMS subscribers and any customer who visits the gift section of the brand’s online store. For Draper James, November is one of the two biggest months for sales of the year along with March.
“Just positioning Draper James as a resource for gift giving, regardless of the season, is a focus for us,” Moennich said. “We’ve started offering gift packages — like pajamas and a book — that make it super simple for people to find gifts. And DJElf is obviously so holiday-focused, but I’d really like to do something similar.”
SMS has been a surprisingly effective channel for driving sales. On Nov. 10, intimates brand Knix hosted a warehouse sale in place of a Black Friday sale that sold out in minutes purely by leveraging its SMS list. On the beauty side, Peace Out began using SMS marketing in July, which drove more than $150,000 in revenue, or 34% of the brand’s total sales, between August and October.
“Texting is a place for fast, personal communication, so the bar is set high for brands,” said Ryan Urban, CEO of Wunderkind, a performance marketing platform that powers SMS for brands like Quay Australia and Morphe. “[Success] is less about age and demographic than it is about your product category and existing consumer behaviors.”