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We wanted to kick off this issue with a note of gratitude. What’s in Store just crossed over the 1 million subscriber mark, and we literally couldn’t have done it without you. We’ve got lots more in store (sorry), so be sure to keep checking in with us every other week for e-commerce tips, tricks, and advice to help build your brand.
While volunteering for the homeless in Austin, Texas, Tim Scott and his wife Agata had an epiphany. “We had seen a problem and decided to do something about it,” he says.
That realization led to the founding of Mitscoots Outfitters in 2012. The clothing and accessories company’s mission is to outfit and employ individuals transitioning out of homelessness. Tim invited the What’s in Store crew to the Mitscoots Outfitters warehouse where he explained how using MailChimp’s predicted demographics has helped them sell merch and get the message out.
Tim says there are a lot of organizations working to assist homeless individuals, but very few that strive to transition them out of it. Working at Mitscoots, Tim says, provides the staff with structure, discipline, and accountability.
The Mitscoots Outfitters fulfillment team works on production about 4 days a week. In roughly 3-4 hours of work, they can get 120-plus units per person packaged. Combined, the staff cranks out somewhere in the range of 300-400 units each day.
Mitscoots Outfitters produces and sells high-quality beanies, scarves, travel bags, and socks. Tim hopes that customers are either buying because they believe in the mission or will eventually be inspired to get involved once they learn more of the back story.
“Any business that has a solid give-back component has to toe that line between purpose and profit in the messaging strategy,” he says.
Regardless of whether a customer buys a beanie because it looks cool or they actually want to feel like they’re investing in a social cause, Tim’s able to use predicted demographics to learn more about them. Specifically, he can go into his dashboard—where he gets a breakdown of customers by age and gender—and then tweak his words accordingly.
“Instead of just throwing out a message into the wind, I’m able to see a bit more about the demographic information, and then I can actually apply it to our general marketing efforts or even some of our product design,” Tim says.
And a lot of their general marketing efforts start with email.
“Our email lists are some of the most valuable things I have,” he says. “It’s not just an email, it’s a relationship and we don’t want to be transactional. Knowing who we’re talking to helps us build that relationship.”
What’s not lost on Tim and his team in that production process is the connection to the customer. And that’s something Mitscoots has refined over time with predicted demographics. “It helps me with consumer engagement, and it refines our message strategy over the long term,” he explains.
Once Tim learns more about each customer, there’s a “slow burn” method of getting them familiar with the bigger focus of the company. Sometimes that’s playing with A/B testing to the point of using subject lines like, “This is who you hired this week” with a link to a feature piece on somebody on staff so that customers can put a face to those success stories. Sure, there are customers who are “all in” on helping the homeless grow and transition out of their situation, but some need a little more nudging.
“It’s that miniature touch point. Even if it takes 6-7 times to have a brand interaction before you become familiar with it,” Tim says. “Everybody else is busy and they’re really saturated with messaging all the time. Making sure that your messaging is pretty and memorable and worth their time is really important.”