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How Elk Head Targets Their Best Customers

The founder of the upscale men’s clothing retailer, and our own Jocelyn Hardy talk must‑have marketing tools.

Hi everyone, Melissa here. In case you didn’t know, it’s National Small Business Week! At Mailchimp, we love our small businesses, and it’s central to our mission to empower them. So for this week’s What’s in Store, we decided to sponsor a local small business called Elk Head. What better way to celebrate NSBW?!

Elk Head is an upscale men’s clothing retailer that designer Garrett Hilgendorf launched just over a year ago. Garrett’s business is growing steadily, but he’s the first to admit that he’s still got a lot of work to do. “We’re still working on driving people to the website,” he says. “We continue to strive to engage customers and have them feel like they’re part of our community, not just a consumer buying things.”

The first thing we (I brought Meg with me for old times’ sake!) noticed upon entering Elk Head’s brick-and-mortar location at Ponce City Market was that it looked amazing. Garrett’s attention to detail was present in everything from the product design to the displays and signage. The same goes for his online store: From the product and lifestyle photography to the copy and merchandising, his aesthetic is on point — so much so that Garrett looks like he’s been doing this a lot longer than a year.

“The way I look at it, if you walk into a big box store, you don’t always get an aesthetic that translates to the product,” Garrett explains. “We’re an alternative to the big box store, and people come to Elk Head, in part, for the experience.”

And not only does everything look good, but you immediately get a sense of Elk Head’s brand image. I could tell right away what Garrett was going for: rugged and masculine, yet timeless and refined.

All of this is part of Garrett’s mission to look like a pro. Know the old saying, “fake it till you make it?” Well, Garrett’s not exactly faking it, since his products are thoughtfully composed of high-quality fabrics and rich textures. But a big part of his business strategy is to emphasize his brand aesthetic in order to build credibility with customers.

Despite being a new business owner, Garrett is confident in his brand so that his customers feel confident in his clothes. Clearly, Garrett is looking like a pro.

But now we wanted to help him really act like a pro. To do so, we had Jocelyn, our in-house expert, help Garrett make the most of his Mailchimp account. After meeting with Garrett to assess his business goals, Jocelyn and Garrett came up with a few key actions to help take Elk Head to the next level.

Elk Head has a Shopify e-commerce store and a Mailchimp account. Great! Except that they weren’t connected. That means Garrett was sitting on a mountain of data that he could be using to sell more stuff.

In fact, we discovered that Elk Head had more than 9,000 contacts that Garrett didn’t know had signed up through his website. 9,000! Nine. Thousand. People.

Once he connected his store to his Mailchimp account, he was able to instantly import those contacts and add them to his Mailchimp list. Garrett’s list grew from 350 to 9,400 overnight. “That’s why it’s important to connect your store early on,” says Jocelyn.

Since Garrett connected his store, he was then able to take advantage of Mailchimp’s e-commerce automations. Jocelyn helped him set up an abandoned cart automation, which she recommends as one of the most powerful tools for boosting sales.

Basically, when a shopper selects something on your site but doesn’t buy it, abandoned cart will automatically send a reminder email and encourage them to complete the purchase. “It’s a no-brainer,” says Jocelyn. “The average Mailchimp user earns enough money from the abandoned cart feature to pay for their Mailchimp account.”

NEWSFLASH: As of this week, Mailchimp’s awesome marketing automations, including abandoned cart, are F-R-E-E! You can learn more about it here.

A person stamping the Elk Head logo onto a bag

Jocelyn is a certified Facebook Ad expert and a huge advocate of smart targeting. She suggested that Garrett first create an ad that targets Elk Head’s best customers, then take advantage of Facebook’s giant audience to reach people who have similar characteristics and interests as his Elk Head customers.

Since Garrett was already running an end-of-season spring sale, he decided to promote the sale and feature one of his best markdown items. The ad went out to all of his Elk Head contacts, and after a week it had reached 2,459 people and received 44 clicks.

Now Garrett didn’t get any purchases directly from the ad online, but he did sell out of the featured product in-store, which is a pretty big deal. “That never happens!” he exclaimed.

He went on to tell us that customers came into the store and mentioned they had seen his Facebook ad. Next, Garrett plans to try Facebook ads targeting similar audiences.

Connecting your store, working with automation, and sending Facebook ads can sometimes seem daunting to small business owners like Garrett, but getting started is often the hardest part. That’s why we share tips from other e-commerce businesses and offer loads of resources to help define a marketing strategy that works for you.

Meg and Melissa peeking out of the changing booths
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