Savory Holiday for Lake Champlain Chocolates

It was a Happy New Year for Lake Champlain Chocolates after the candy merchant tallied up its holiday sales results.

Overall sales rose 10%, while email sales soared nearly 37% over holiday 2009. And Lake Champlain Chocolates accomplished this with no increase in catalog circulation. What’s the secret?

Greg Tickle, direct marketing manager for Lake Champlain Chocolates, points to a $5 shipping promotion that triggered more sales. While the merchant had used the same promotion in 2009, this time it made a few tweaks for 2010 that worked well.

“We ran the promotion longer and promoted it throughout all channels — email, pay-per-click, social media, home page banner, and press releases,” he explains. “Last year the promotion ran for a shorter length of time and was only promoted via email, pay-per-click and limited social media.”

Lake Champlain extended the offer and advertised to encourage customers to buy early, Tickle says. Organic traffic was up almost 5% and SEO traffic was up almost 5%.

With the offer, any order placed within a specified time frame cost $5 for standard shipping, no matter how large the order. The customer could still choose a later delivery date, as late as 12/31/10, which Tickle says “encouraged customers to get their shopping done early and allowed us the time to plan and space out our busy season a bit more.”

With its print catalog, Lake Champlain Chocolates tried to “strike a balance on our cover by showing the chocolate and the packaging,” Tickle says. “We added four pages to the catalog, which highlighted ordering details, volume discount information with a specific call to action for corporate giving, as well as holiday novelties such as chocolate snowmen and Santas that we have not shown in past catalogs.”

What caused the massive rise in email sales?

“We attribute our email sales increase to a couple things,” Tickle explains. “The first spike occurred during our promotion. In 2009 Lake Champlain did not have any promotion during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. This year, the company ran the $5 shipping promotion during that time — which almost doubled its email sales. “This allowed us to remain competitive during that weekend since it has become so promotion driven,” he says.

The second spike in sales occurred closer to the holidays, Tickle adds, due in part to the more urgent (“there’s still time”) call-to-action emails.

“It’s hard to know exactly why this group of emails was up so much, but we believe having Christmas on a Saturday gave people almost a whole week to shop online and not have to pay for upgraded shipping, rather than going to a retail store,” Tickle says.

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