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For over 15 years the folks at Smudge Ink have been creating beautiful letterpress and offset printed stationery and gift products. Their locally crafted line can be found in more than 900 retailers around the country and worldwide, as well their online shop. For this edition of What’s in Store, we took a trip to Smudge Ink’s HQ in Boston’s historic Charlestown neighborhood, and chatted with owner April May to find out how she’s using MailChimp’s product recommendations and abandoned cart features to increase Smudge Ink’s overall engagement.

There’s an old Nationwide insurance campaign adage that says, “Life comes at you fast.” That was the case for April 2 years ago when the owners of Smudge Ink approached her about taking over their business. She had previously worked for Smudge Ink as the office manager, but left the company when her son was born. “I was in complete shock,” says April, who became the owner in February 2016. “It was a big change going from self-employed to managing a full staff.”

Fortunately, the previous Smudge Ink owners were already using MailChimp, which helped ease April’s move from self-employed to managing an entire business. Her first thought: Keep the newsletters to customers going strong.

April says being able to create and easily manage the Smudge Ink newsletter has been the best marketing tool for connecting with customers. “We reach more people through our newsletter than through social media,” she says.

Those newsletters especially come in handy when the Smudge Ink team wants to hip their customers to new product releases or special offers where customers save on shipping costs based on how much they spend in the online store.

When customers leave items hanging in purchase limbo, Smudge Ink uses MailChimp’s product recommendations feature for the bait. Not only is Smudge Ink sending those product recommendations to highlight new or popular products, it’s also a part of their abandoned cart strategy.

“We use product recommendations the most in our abandoned cart emails,” April says. “Not only can it automatically fill in what’s abandoned in their cart, but then below we can have recommendations of other similar things that they might want to add to their cart when they go back and hopefully buy that thing they forgot.”

So, if the customer left some greeting cards at the online checkout counter, the abandoned cart feature is there to remind them, while the product recommendations will suggest corresponding products based on built-in customer data. April says having the analysis of her customers’ purchase history, and using that data to help predict their future buying decisions gives her brain a much-needed breather.

“Because it’s connected to the store, I don’t have to find any links, or guess in my mind,” she says.

Like most small business owners, April says the biggest challenge has been managing her time. Working with a pretty small staff means she’s constantly dealing with “little emergencies” that often pop up. However, even though Smudge Ink’s only made use of product recommendations in the past year, April says she can’t ignore the results.

“Before, we weren’t really linking to direct products, or in as clear of a way, and now that we’re doing that we get a lot more clicks.”

Try product recommendations and clear those abandoned carts.