The Gro Company sleeps safe with Bronto's email marketing

The Gro Company –manufacturer of safe sleep baby products, including its famed Grobag – has been working with Bronto Software over the last year to improve its email marketing efforts.

The business was born in a small Devonshire village and was the first company to bring baby sleeping bags to the UK 15 years ago. Its products negate the risk of cot death and prevent babies from kicking off their sheets while they sleep. The Gro Company is now the leading manufacturer of safe sleep baby products in the UK and is backed by the Lullaby Trust.

Edward Scott-Finnigan, group eCommerce manager at The Gro Company explained how one of the founders, Rob Holmes, was very ahead of the curve when it came to online, launching its eCommerce site in the late nineties as an online catalogue.

Now, as a manufacturer with a number of high street retailers selling its products, it has to manage its online relationship with customers a little differently.

Scott-Finnegan said selling direct to consumers allows the brand to prove its suggested pricing and also offer the entire range to customers.

"The overall goal is to support the product and take it into new markets, we're in the French and German market, but [unlike the UK] they have been making baby sleeping bags for around 80 years."

The struggle integrating with Magento

The Gro Company uses email marketing to engage with its online customers, both by informing them of new products and discounts and also providing information to form an ongoing relationship.

But in order to do this, The Gro Company had to find the perfect email marketing partner, a task which ended up being quite difficult.

"We had Magento as a platform of choice, but it was almost impossible to tie up with email marketing platforms," said Scott-Finnigan. "Those companies which did integrate only did so on a basic level of taking a name and email address from the Magento platform."

Bronto approached Scott-Finnigan three years ago, but he chose to go with another provider – a decision he now regrets. "The other company had just received massive investment and was promising the world, but unfortunately this did not come to fruition. So I asked Bronto – 'Can you do what you say on the tin?' By that time I was burnt by three other marketing companies which said they could integrate with Magento, when they couldn't."

Bronto was able to integrate with Magento and lift out targeted sales data, allowing The Gro Company to interrogate it and create more detailed campaigns than the classic 'batch and blast' approach.

"The one thing we're fortunate about in the nursery industry is that every couple of months we have a whole new set of customers ," he said. "Batch and blast still has its place, especially if you have discounts or for instance, a Christmas campaign, but it's important for us as a manufacturer to have a lot of love for our products."

Engaging with customers

Scott-Finnigan explained its resellers, including Amazon and Toys R Us, may offer its products at a cheaper price, so The Gro Company has to leverage a special relationship with its customers. "We need to give something back and offer something more personalised."

Bronto Software allows The Gro Company to segment its customer data and co-ordinate highly targeted campaigns, such as suggesting the next size Grobag for when the child has grown out of its original based on the date it was first purchased.

Another successful campaign is its automatic abandon basket email. "It's the simplicity of sending out a reminder and we have on average a 62% open rate and a 51% conversion rate – it's the best performing email we've ever had and it's driving so much revenue."

"But we don't want to be about sell, sell, sell," he said. "If you buy a Grobag, we immediately trigger a three step care guide – how to wash and care for it – and that email will be with you before the product is.

"People are more than likely to pick up their phone to engage with the product than the instruction manual which looks quite dull."

The next job for Scott-Finnigan is to improve its website, starting with a new payment gateway and checkout functionality which will be live in January.

The business will also continue to improve its mobile offering, which launched a year ago.

"70% of our customers are on mobile," adds Scott-Finnigan. "You think of the stereotypical mum and it's no wonder – she'll usually have a baby crying on one hand and in the other, a mobile to order just what the baby has been sick on."

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