Case Study


Selling quirky t-shirts since 2003, (MTV) had a successful trading legacy and a database of 40,000 customers. In it’s long history, the quirky tee seller has been no stranger to reinvention. From launching as an importer and reseller in 2003 to evolving to a print on demand business in 2011, and more recently partnering with the likes of adult comic mag Viz Magazine and satirical website The Daily Mash.

With its comical range of t-shirts, aprons and mugs – MTV had generated an applause-worthy database in terms of size, yet it lacked lustre, engagement and chatter!

MTV was struggling to capture its fans’ attention — the brand had become tired and anonymous. Their biggest challenge was audience reengagement “We had fallen into the habit of posting the same thing — it became very stale,” shared Andy Fraser, Managing Director, MTV.

Although its trading history was strong, MTV’s loyal customer-base was shrinking and sales and revenue trending down. “MTV were using email as a one-way channel, a sales promotion mechanism, instead of a framework for meaningful customer relationships”, Jane Dixon, Consulting Director and Founder of WRD, highlighted.

As 2019 hit, the MTV team knew it was time for another reinvention; the world of digital, data and automation were waiting and they needed a trusted partner by their side. That’s where Jane and her team came in — bringing a rich mix of technical, creative and strategic skills.

Willow Ridge Digital saw a huge opportunity to boost sales and future-proof their business but knew it had to be a two-pronged approach – tackling customer retention alongside their ecommerce strategy. Customer engagement was down, partly due to a lack of integration with their ecommerce platform, so MTV couldn’t tell what customers were buying or why.

Compounding the problem was the fact that over 90% of MTV’s products are sat within the same category – T-shirts. Making products easy to find has to be at the heart of all ecommerce strategies but this priority had been lost amongst the myriad challenges of running a retail site. Their web analytics reports said it all; high bounce rates, poor dwell times and low conversion rates, the classic signs of poor customer experience and lots of missed sales opportunities.

With peak season rapidly approaching, the MTV team decided to go all out and turn things around. They engaged WRD to rapidly transform their marketing and ecommerce capabilities so that they could end 2019 on a high.

As specialists in CRM for retail, WRD know what a landmark event Black Friday is for Enterprise and SME retailers alike. Whether or not you buy into the hype, it’s an opportunity that no marketer can afford to ignore.

At a time of fierce competition for customer spend, standing out from the crowd requires a rare mix of skills; data analytics, strategic know-how, creative flair, and campaign experience. A mix that few retailers are fortunate enough to have in-house.

As Jane Dixon comments, delivering outstanding campaigns is “… part art, part science. It’s a matter of balancing technical and creative considerations, as well as, of course, managing short projects with tight deadlines and lots of deeply engaged stakeholders!”  

With the best sales opportunity of the year rapidly approaching, Jane and her tight knit team set to work on a root and branch transformation.

1. Creating a Marketing Persona

If you were to imagine a typical MTV customer, you might picture a geeky teenager who never quite grew up – and that’s where the transformation began – with the creation of a persona that customers could relate to.

“We wanted to give MTV’s campaigns a personality, a tone of voice that would resonate. Everyone knows a ‘Dave’, someone who tells iffy jokes and wears silly tee’s” And so, the persona of Dave was ‘born’, a forty-something bloke with an off-kilter sense of humour.

2. A new Brand Look and Feel

Now that MTV had a voice, it also needed a look – one which would work across web, social and email campaigns.

Starting with the core of their brand, WRD designed a new cartoon style logo, echoing the comical nature of MTV products and the overall design was updated to match.

Andy Fraser, Managing Director at MTV was delighted with the result: “The heartbeat of the site is really a bit rude, a bit comical, which is reflected in the way that it looks now,” he adds. It’s “very impactful, very comical and funny.”

3. Optimising the Customer Experience

A key ingredient of good customer experience is continuity – making sure a brand persona is consistently baked into  every aspect of their digital presence.

With this in mind, WRD restructured MTV’s merchandising categories using Dave as a guide. When all your products are funny, the only logical way to classify them is by types of humour!

Grouping products into categories such as ‘Old Duffer’, ‘Sweary’ and ‘Contrarian’ has had a huge effect. “It makes it so much easier to navigate and is having a hugely positive effect — it is exactly what we wanted,” says Andy.

4. Linking Marketing Campaigns with Purchase Data

A common challenge for retailers is making the link between marketing efforts and purchasing behaviour. Historically this has been a complex and costly issue to resolve. However, a new generation of CRM platforms tackle this issue from the outset. Based on previous successes, WRD recommended Klaviyo as the only solution that could deliver on their needs in such a short period.

In just 10 days, WRD cleaned up MTV’s customer data, transitioned them from their legacy Email Services Provider and with Klaviyo as the framework, created a 360 degree view of their customers.

5. Email & Marketing Automation

Despite social media’s omnipresence, email is till the top-performing channel for customer engagement and one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for SMEs. However, it really delivers most when it’s automated – using transactional and behavioural data to trigger timely, targeted and personalised campaigns.

With their ecommerce operations and email now fully integrated, WRD were able to set up a suite of automated and highly personalised campaigns “We’re no longer shotgunning everyone the same content with the same messages,” says Andy.

Another key benefit of benefit was streamlining the email production process. On moving MTV to Klaviyo, WRD created flexible, reusable email templates incorporating the new brand look and feel.

In the past, it had taken their overstretched marketing executive a whole day to build a simple email campaign. With the new production capabilities in place, it now takes less than an hour to build and deploy targeted, mobile responsive campaigns.

In less than 20 days, WRD had truly transformed MTV’s fortunes.

With a refreshed website, restructured product assortment and new marketing capabilities, MTV had their most successful Black Friday ever!

WRD then went on to refocus their efforts on longer term success – through coaching and mentoring the MTV marketing team.

With weekly sessions, Jane coached their team on all aspects of CRM and email marketing – sharing her expertise so that MTV develop the right skills in-house.

“Guidance such as  frequency of posting, the content, the words and what people are engaging with and knowledge of that sector that Jane is imparting onto my team members is invaluable,” explains Andy. “Jane’s skills are top-notch and we’re very impressed with her coaching and our ongoing relationship with WRD.”

The results for MTV have been astounding! Email engagement has skyrocketed from a dismal 5% to an outstanding high of 28% and repeat purchase rates have trebled.

The MTV team were also revived and ready for 2020. “We were a bit lost with how to put some energy back into it,” said Andy. “Ad blindness came into it” as people would just see the “same design, same theme, the same look.”

With clearer customer insights enabling targeted and personalised email campaigns, customers have come flooding back and retention rates trebled.

And what of the ultimate barometer of retail marketing success – revenue?

“We had a tremendously successful Christmas”, Andy says. “and with our ongoing relationship with WRD, we’re pretty happy about the future too”


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