Headshot of Samie Barr, SVP of Marketing, CB2.
Samie Barr, Senior Vice President of Marketing, CB2. — CB2

Winning strategies for incorporating SMS campaigns into your brand’s holiday marketing, according to CB2’s SVP of Marketing, Samie Barr:

  • Text-based marketing allows for two-way communication to more specific audience segments, which enables more targeted messages and increased content relevancy for each subscriber who opts in.
  • Seasonal campaigns, like text-to-join sweepstakes, have drawn immediate interest and have major impact on the growth of CB2’s subscriber base.
  • CB2 leveraged the peak traffic period with a non-competing Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer on cb2.com, growing the SMS subscriber file triple digits from the year prior.

Often positioned as Crate & Barrel’s stylish little sibling, CB2 has crafted a strong brand of its own. With its sleek design and more accessible prices, the home goods and furniture retailer’s product assortment is geared toward a slightly younger and more modern consumer.

SMS marketing is key to CB2’s millennial consumer outreach, particularly around Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. Since 2018, the retailer has partnered with marketing tech company Attentive to construct and run text-based campaigns for sweepstakes, promotions, and general outreach. The payoff has been plentiful: Over the December 2021 holiday season alone, CB2 grew its customer file nearly 30%, while also driving 24% year-over-year growth among both new and existing customers.

Here, Senior Vice President of Marketing Samie Barr outlines CB2’s successful strategy for serving and growing its audience online, and how its text messaging strategy continues to pay off season after season.

CO—: How do you define CB2’s target audience today, and how does that audience differ from Crate & Barrel’s?

SB: While all Crate & Barrel Holdings brands are led with a modern and customer-first mindset, CB2 shoppers are uniquely obsessed with all things design and come to us for our highly edited, distinctive collections. Whether it’s one of our more contemporary pieces or a reissued vintage icon, our customers are always on the hunt for unique…design.

2022 was a year of headwinds across the home industry with lingering supply chain issues, shifts in consumer spending, and inflation. Consumers are now driven by promotional offers and value-based messaging, especially during this holiday season.

Samie Barr, Senior Vice President of Marketing, CB2

CO—: How are you uniquely targeting that audience this holiday season?

SB: Only 5% of our total assortment is considered distinctly ‘holiday,’ and it doesn’t read ‘red and green.’ A CB2 holiday is not a traditional one. We are focused on more than the broader holiday-category shopper and constantly think about the holiday mindset of our customers. Furniture and decor shared similar traffic across mobile and desktop during the last holiday period, which was insightful.

With this in mind, we have a focused, integrated plan and editorial strategy to break through the noise, meet customers where they are, and personalize their experience beyond holiday decor and the product offering in general, delivering rich and inspiring content in a highly targeted way. For example, a campaign related to hosting overnight guests for the holidays targeted active customers that have either engaged with select messages or purchased from us within a specific period of the past quarter.

[Read: 5 Things Retailers Are Worried About for the Holiday Season – And What They’re Doing to Prepare]

CO—: What is the nature of CB2's mobile-first strategy this holiday season, and why?

SB: Eighty percent of our sales come through e-commerce. That’s typical during the holiday season as well. What’s interesting is how it breaks down. Last holiday, nearly 70% of our e-commerce traffic was driven by mobile, while almost 60% of orders were placed on our desktop site. This view doesn’t account for the customers who visit us in store and make final purchases online. Our strategy last year and this year feeds into that behavior—focusing on streamlining content and experience along the customer journey wherever it takes them.

Our digital-first holiday strategy specifically aims to increase traffic and [sales] conversions across channels—such as text messaging, email, and social media—and to build affinity for the brand. To do this, we thought about the incentives that mean the most to our mobile channel subscribers, and the drivers that encourage them to click through and eventually purchase — building efficiencies beyond the click, from merchandising to site navigation, all while maintaining the brand storytelling for each product or collection. To that end, we spent considerable time on customer segmentation and personalized messaging on our direct marketing channels.

[Read: 5 Recession-Fighting Marketing Strategies From Walmart to McCormick Spices All Businesses Should Watch]

 Two phone screens showing text-based marketing messages for CB2.
Retailer CB2 has experienced a significant payoff from the text-based marketing strategy it has crafted and utilized through partnership with marketing tech company Attentive — CB2

CO—: What are the company's biggest challenges, and how is it countering them this holiday season to drive more business?

SB: 2022 was a year of headwinds across the home industry with lingering supply chain issues, shifts in consumer spending, and inflation. Consumers are now driven by promotional offers and value-based messaging, especially during this holiday season. Our differentiated holiday assortment allows us to dig deeper into inspirational and editorial content with enduring pieces that can live beautifully in your home beyond the holiday season.

CO—: What has been the return on investment you've seen from any mobile initiatives CB2 launched so far?

SB: This year is our fifth holiday season deploying SMS with Attentive for engagement. Last holiday season, we used interactive messaging (two-way messaging using keywords to trigger unique responses based on subscriber replies) to personalize content, launched a text-to-join sweepstakes, and leveraged the peak traffic period with a non-competing holiday offer on cb2.com. Those efforts alone grew our customer file by more than 30% and drove a 25% increase in sales versus the previous year’s holiday season across new and existing customers. It’s a growth initiative for the business, and we’ll continue to evolve our strategy each year to build loyalty and better interact with subscribers.

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