ShopRunner - Their Smart Email Campaign That Hooked Me

Genius email marketing that will convert trial periods into paid customers.

Summer last year (2014) I was getting ready to place an order on drugstore.com for some awesome, all-natural supplements (this is what working at a health food store did to me) when I saw the option to get free 2-day shipping. All I had to do was sign-up for a trial of ShopRunner, a service I'd never heard of before.

What the hell? I'll give you my email if it means free 2 day shipping (might not have done it if it was for standard shipping). Click here, click there, and I'm in. Turns out I had to provide a credit card number but I didn't care, I was going to cancel the service before 30 days and prevent the annual charge from going through. I set reminders in my phone for that sort of trickery.

Time goes by. My reminder goes off and I log in to cancel my account. It was simple. I didn't have to call and deal with some obnoxious sales person trying to convince me the sky was going to fall if I didn't stick around.

Ding. New Email. They're sorry to see me go. :(

Not a minute later, this little gem shows up. It tells me I'm back in. So maybe this is a difficult service to leave after all, but as I read, I'm okay with it. My trial had been extended for an additional 90 days at no cost and I won't be billed at the end of the 90 days. I could even get a free one year membership if I make 3 more purchases within that 90 days and still receive 2-day shipping on their dime. Sweet. Simple as pie. I know I'll make a few more supplement purchases.

And, as my luck would have it, ShopRunner followed through on their end of the bargain and provided me with a full year of their service, absolutely free! Like, whoa. This is suddenly the best deal I've ever come across online. Not only did I get 120 days free (initial 30 plus the extra 90), they gave me an entire year of their service at no cost.

Ok, now before I get any further into this because you'll probably think I'm a nut or ShopRunner is paying me to write, I want to say that I am not being paid, nor have I been asked to write this post (you can still think I'm a nut). Free shipping and smart marketing just makes me happy.

Back to the genius of their customer retention email campaign (aside from the fact that their email tells me I'm supposed to get free shipping until 2016, which is actually 2 years and I may try to bring that up with them...that's not so genius).

They're also pretty smart about sending infrequent (not annoying by any means) email updates like: "Since you've been using ShopRunner, you've saved $276!" And as the number of dollars saved grows, the more apparent it is that their annual fee of $79 is actually worth paying when the time comes.

In fact, I'd gladly do it. I've always had true 2 day shipping at no cost with them and can't say a single negative thing about the company. Admittedly, before ShopRunner, I shopped online much less frequently. For two reasons:

  1. Whatever deal I was trying to find online was usually nixed when the cost of shipping got factored in
  2. I'm so cheap that I always opted for the free slow methods and that doesn't go over well with some as impatient as I am

Because of those reasons, I generally preferred to shop locally. More so for the need to satisfy my want of immediately having XYZ purchase in my hands. But, with 2-day shipping that I'm no longer paying for, the deals stay "deals" and the wait to get my purchases becomes a little more bearable. It feels like a fair trade off when I'd otherwise need to drive 20 minutes out my way to purchase my now online buys. (yes, I am still a supporter of my local businesses, I don't live in the biggest of cities though)

And, wrapping my love letter to ShopRunner up ;), I want to highlight the things you should take away from this experience.

  1. Genius Customer Retention
  2. You're Keeping a User Account with Saved Credit Card Info
  3. Email done Correctly Costs Less Than Hiring a Customer Retention Employee to Call Up Every Cancelled Member

Don't ask me how they're making money. I'd assume they've got some pretty slick deals worked out with shipping partners and their member merchants. They've also probably got data that proves ShopRunner members are more likely to become repeat customers, earning their partners more revenue, further decreasing their actual contributed cost to shipping. That, and like all other auto-renewal membership services, plenty of people get the charge but don't bother to dispute it.

ShopRunner is just another one of the many companies getting marketing right.

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