Online engagement ring retailer JamesAllen.com celebrates 10 years of business in 2017 and boasts more than 150,000 wedding engagements across the world—#10YearsOfYes. In the last two years, the e-commerce company has tripled its business, experiencing larger growth than all of its competitors. This success has been fueled by expansion in the product range and diamond selection on the website, as well as visual display enhancements and marketing investments. Although the retailer's shoppers tend to be primarily in their 20 and 30s, the top end of that age has shifted slightly to an older audience. In 2017, JamesAllen.com will continue to target tech-savvy millennials.
FierceRetail sat down with Johanna Tzur, CMO at JamesAllen.com, to learn more about how the retailer plans to continue to grow in popularity among millennial shoppers.
FierceRetail: You have a showroom in New York City. Do you sell products there or is it simply for viewing?
Johanna Tzur: The showroom is a by-appointment-only space that allows customers to come see a product in person, talk with a diamond and jewelry expert, and get a more intimate view of our brand and who we are. We do transact in the showroom, although this is not the traditional customer journey with JamesAllen.com.
FR: Do you have any other brick-and-mortar locations, pop-ups or showrooms?
JT: Currently we are online-only, aside from our NYC showroom. We are always looking for ways to deliver the best possible experience to our customers in the most transparent way, and our current model allows us to do this efficiently and still grow faster than our bricks-and-clicks competition.
FR: What about online purchases resonates with your consumer?
JT: Online is their preferred mode of research and shopping in just about every category they interact with, so it is logical they consider making their engagement ring purchase online too. Our customers tend to appreciate that they are truly in the driver's seat with us—they are comfortable educating themselves on this purchase and deciding what's right for them.
All of the expected benefits of online hold true for this very important purchase: tremendous variety, more value for money, convenience, ability to shop and compare easily, and a free shipping and returns policy that includes lifetime warranty.
And our Diamond Display Technology provides an even better view of a diamond than a jeweler's loupe would in-store. All of our more than 130,000 certified and conflict-free diamonds are zoomed up to 40 times and shown in a magnified 360° HD view, so our customers can understand exactly what they're getting and evaluate a diamond based on its visible characteristics rather than just the specs on a certificate.
FR: You said you're having tremendous results with email marketing over the last few years. Please describe the tactics you are using.
JT: We use a welcome series that is personalized for men and women, providing everything from educational benefits to customized offers. We also have behavioral-triggered emails that are sent in response to actions that someone has taken on our site. In addition, JamesAllen.com offers insider benefits for those who are signed up to our mailing list, and we are frequently A/B testing subject lines, content, distribution time and frequency.
FR: Can you give a specific example of a recent email campaign?
JT: In our Valentine's sale emails, we varied the product based on purchase history. The first email showed other jewelry to people who have already purchased an engagement ring. The second and third emails were for male and female engagement ring shoppers, respectively. The headlines and content links were tailored for each gender.
FR: What do you think about these campaigns are resonating with consumers?
JT: Language, tone of voice, visual imagery, product pairings, tailored messaging and segmentation. All of these factors work together to cue to our customer that we understand their specific mindset and want every piece of communication to be useful and relevant. If you're in the moment of your life when you're trying to buy an engagement ring, then the content you receive from us should make that process easier, more transparent and provide value to you.
FR: What are you doing on social media in order to attract millennials?
JT: We're working together with social media influencers who can speak to their audience in a very organic way. Pinterest specifically plays a large role in our marketing mix—women are using this as a tool to subtly hint to their significant others about which rings they like, and their partners are using it to check out her preferences. In terms of paid spend on Pinterest, it is a unique tool in the sense that there is search intent and the results are visually-based, all working to our advantage in this industry.
FR: How many of your customers search/shop on mobile?
JT: Our spread of traffic has shifted now so that more people are introduced to us on a mobile device versus desktop. Mobile traffic is typically in a search and learn mode, while the large majority of our purchases are still on desktop. For that reason, we put significant thought into which elements of this journey will be most useful to our mobile traffic as compared to elements that would be more useful for desktop traffic.
FR: Can you tell us about what you've done with Buzzfeed and Google?
JT: We believe in taking a modern approach to a very old-school industry, from the way that we merchandise and sell to the marketing approach that we take. One demonstration of that is our fusion of content and distribution, as we select our partners who both co-create and distribute content (ala Buzzfeed and Google).
We're seeing a shift in the way that content is being created and distributed to today's millennial consumer. There is a blurring of the lines between the creative forces and the distribution players.
Google is one of our largest media spend buckets. We had briefed a few ad agencies to create a video off of the 'anxiety' insight that guys absolutely have to nail the ring. We weren't getting back any clutter-breaking ideas and Google came to us and said that their creative team would like to pitch ideas as value-add to our media relationship. The video we ultimately created (How Do You Know if a Girl Loves Her Diamond Ring?) was one of those concepts. We then partnered very closely with our Google team on the creative concepting, director casting, styling and production to create the content and the supporting media support plan.
The owners of media channels know their audiences and the content that works best for them, so they are best placed to create for them (and of course distribute the content). This holds true for the video we created together with Buzzfeed as well. They partnered with us to come up with the creative concept and then produce and distribute the video to our target audiences on Buzzfeed's Facebook and YouTube channels.
Both our Google and Buzzfeed videos drove substantial traffic to the site and in the case of Buzzfeed specifically, thanks to the unique content angle, drove tremendous engagement on the site. Couples continue to come to our site to take the engagement ring challenge that they see played out in the Buzzfeed video.
FR: What do you think millennials are looking for first and foremost in a retailer today?
JT: We believe that millennials are looking for value and transparency in any retailer that they purchase from today. They want to feel that they aren't being sold to, but rather that they are being equipped with all of the information and then are free to make the best-informed decision for themselves.
In terms of marketing, we see the most success with millennials when the content provides value and feels organic to what they are already doing and where they already are. For example, if they're trying to understand how to not get scammed with a diamond and be sure they're purchasing a real one, they do not want the video to feel intrusive as an advertisement, but rather gives them valuable tips that weave in the JamesAllen.com advantages at the same time.
FR: What else can you tell me about the future of JamesAllen.com?
JT: We continue to develop technologies that grant our customers the transparency and tools to take full control of their selection and purchasing experience and further streamline this important experience. We also will continue to focus on unconventional brand-building initiatives to ensure JamesAllen.com is the top brand that comes to mind when a couple is planning their engagement and the life celebrations that follow.