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As the story goes, cousins Nick and Travis Jourdan had an epiphany while playing a game of pickup basketball. “We had this passion for creating and naturally sharing music with each other, and we wanted to find out how we could share it with everybody else,” Travis says.

The 2 Austin, Texas natives also felt that there was a disconnect between up-and-coming artists and new listeners, and they wanted to bridge that gap. With that in mind, the Jourdans launched the monthly vinyl subscription service, Vinylmnky, in spring 2015. The fellas sat down with What’s in Store to talk about how the combination of segmentation and merge tags has enhanced efforts to personalize their messaging.

Nick and Travis rarely make business decisions without “The Tribe.” That’s the name for the Vinylmnky subscribers who’ve signed up for one of the service’s 3 membership packages. Each month the team finds what they dub the best “Breakthrough Records of the Month,” and send those artists’ brand new LPs on vinyl to Tribe members worldwide. Breakthrough artist alums such as Khalid, Gallant, and Mura Masa worked with Vinylmnky early in their careers.

From signed vinyl to custom lithographs and online shop discounts, the Tribe, Travis says, is not only getting perks, but hopefully connecting with the artists behind that music. “Community was one of the very first things we talked about,” he explains. “It has to be a community-oriented thing and have everyone behind these artists because, just as we’re behind these artists that we’re featuring, we want our tribe to be there and sharing it.”

To maintain that sense of community, and personalize their messaging, Vinylmnky has a simple strategy. “We use merge tags and segmentation in conjunction with one another in our campaigns,” Travis says.

Here’s how they do it:

Since Nick and Travis are curating inventory from multiple musical interests with their business, having the ability to break customers down into genre-specific categories is key. When new members opt in to Vinylmnky, they’re asked to make note of the genres they’re most interested in hearing. From there, the subscribers are segmented by groups based off of those genre selections.

“Like Spotify and Instagram, MailChimp is fundamental to amplifying our taste-making capacity,” Travis says. “We segment all of our members with what genre they opt in with, and we’ll push those vinyls and those genres, and share corresponding Spotify playlists to just amplify the new music discovery experience.”

After segmenting their list based on genre preferences that include hip-hop enthusiasts, rock die-hards, and R&B lovers, Nick and Travis then leverage merge tags to create that 1-to-1 experience. Whether it’s adding the customer’s first name in the email or using social links of interest, using merge tags allows for more intimate interaction.

“Our artists directly engage with our Tribe members, and MailChimp merge tags also facilitate that component,” Travis says. “From a customer-facing perspective, we can leverage name merge tags to deliver a personable and authentic experience, and from an internal perspective, campaign merge tags enable us to maintain proximity to our customer insights and adapt.”

After the one-two punch of segmentation and merge tags, it’s time for a little email experimentation, and that’s where A/B testing  comes in.

“What’s really great about the merge tags is we can use them in our A/B testing, so we put them in our subject lines or in the body of the content,” Nick says. “It really helps us hone in on the right message to deliver a personalized experience for our customers.”