Campagne d'affichage de Back Market à New York

Email and customer relations: Fueling Back Market’s growth

Publié le : 2 June 2020 par Kevin Van Hullebusch

Behind the e-merchant’s lightning-fast growth, there is a mission: to make refurbished products “sexier” than new ones… Plus one lethal weapon: emails written in a unique tone to serve a formidable CRM strategy.

Three-digit annual growth. 250 employees, active in six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the US). And after record fundraising (€41 million in 2018 and €110 in May 2020), a ranking in the prestigious Next 40 (the top 40 French startups with the greatest potential, which counts seven e-merchants, including other Dartagnan clients like Vestiaire Collective and Evaneos). In short, at Back Market, the French leader in refurbished products, every indicator is in the green.

Campagne d'affichage de Back Market à New York
Founded in 2014, Back Market already has a presence on five markets outside France.

Back Market: An original, unconventional brand identity

How did the company achieve such fantastic success and manage to become the symbol of French Tech? First, thanks to an innovative concept, which echoes the increasingly pressing concerns of consumers who are interested in consuming in a better, more sustainable, smarter way…

But also thanks to a brand identity and messaging that are as original and unconventional as they are consistent, served by brilliant communications and customer relations… in which Dartagnan is proud to have played a role.

How Back Market became the (super)market for refurbished goods

The adventure began exactly five years ago. Thibaud Hug de Larauze (the future CEO) and Quentin Le Brouster (CTO) were working for a marketplace integrator. By chance, they discovered a high-tech refurbishing plant. They were immediately won over by its quality of work… and by the potential market for its “like-new quality” secondhand products.

What was needed to make refurbished goods a real alternative to the market for new products? A player capable of reassuring consumers, so that the market could really take off. As summarized by Vianney Vaute, Back Market’s third founding partner and now Chief Creative Officer, this entailed “gathering as many vendors together in the same marketplace as possible and showing consumers that this was no niche alternative designed to ‘sabotage’ the new goods industry.”

A well-intentioned “pirate”

Former in-house strategic planner Vianney Vaute defines Back Market’s brand identity, step by step. What was the goal? To give the secondhand products sold by Back Market a shiny new glow, making them “sexy” and desirable.

This involves the use of a tone and messaging that are completely unconventional. The e-merchant doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at the ads for one of its flagship products (the iPhone) or to approach some of the year’s key sales events with humor (even if that means ruffling some feathers).

Between semi-annual clearance sales, Christmas, Father’s Day, Apple’s keynote and more, nothing is sacred. Everything is handled jokingly, even absurdly, establishing the tone of a “pirate” (in Vianney Vaute’s words), in contrast to the rather serious, abstract world of the consumer electronics sector.

Newsletter Back Market fête des pères
Newsletter Back Market nouvel iPhone
Newsletter Back Market Soldes

Father’s Day, the latest iPhone release and the semi-annual clearance sales: Back Market’s newsletters happily deviate from the beaten path…

Email: A pivotal component of Back Market’s CRM strategy

The company’s unique tone wasn’t really planned at the outset, Vianney Vaute admits. “When the first orders started coming in, we had to create emails to go with them,” explains the co-founder. “I wrote them how I would have wanted to receive them: communications that were joyful and light… but clean. It was very important that they should feel spontaneous and not like the result of a marketing stance.”

A fundamental relationship channel

So, email is “where it all played out,” according to Vianney Vaute. “Of course, we were trying to stand out from the rest in the website’s copywriting, but even more so in our email.”

Used since the very beginning of Back Market, email is still firing the engines five years later. “80% of our CRM interactions go through email,” confirms Léa Marekovic, the brand’s CRM Manager.

Why this focus on email? First, because of the advantages offered by the medium, compared to other methods of interaction:

  • possibility of delivering multiple messages as part of a single campaign, where text messages and push notifications are rather limited
  • ability to fully express the brand’s values and personality
  • above all, ideal relevance for customer contact.

Vianney Vaute appreciates that “email is a very solid way to ‘place’ a contract with a customer. It’s a space where you can be ‘one-on-one’ with them.” “One of the things we can be proud of is having succeeded in creating real rendezvous with our customers, thanks to a newsletter whose content our subscribers truly value,” continues Léa Marekovic.

A finely tuned email strategy, down to the last detail

Over and above the tone, Back Market has developed a real email marketing strategy with two main types of messages:

  • automated (triggered) emails based on predefined scenarios (for example, to encourage the consumer to sell their old smartphone on Back Market after buying a new one)
  • tactical newsletters (for Black Friday, back to school, etc.), alternating between product-focused emails offering “deals” and more “crusading” emails.

Exemple de trigger email de bienvenue Back Market
Exemple de trigger email pour les vendeurs Back Market
Exemple de trigger email livraison Back Market

Welcome, vendor alerts and deliveries: Back Market uses multiple triggers to maintain relationships with its marketplace customers.

Without neglecting the effects of product selections on revenue, Back Market’s team takes care to create newsletters whose commercial interests seem less obvious… at first glance. Vianney Vaute considers that the company’s “‘price/product’ emails bring in sales, but the ‘completely free’ emails are the ones that build relationships. Our goal is to find the right balance between these two types of communications. And to never lose sight of the fact that, regardless of the message, there needs to be a real intention behind it. In literal terms, a newsletter is a letter: I write to someone, when I have something to say!”

But because, at the end of the day, not everything can be literature, there is (also) an underlying marketing strategy… And it’s quite sophisticated.

So, special care is taken with each “launch” of a new brand (for example, Bosch, Siemens and Devialet all recently joined the Back Market family). As for product recommendations, they are “based on a predictive buying algorithm (developed by Emarsys), which allows us to select products from categories other than smartphones, offering a higher likelihood of purchase, and so on,” reveals Léa Marekovic.

Diversification, internationalization and retention: Email and CRM driving Back Market’s growth

Léa Marekovic’s allusion to “other” product categories is by no means insignificant: getting away from “smartphone dependency” figures prominently among her CRM team’s objectives.

Expanding the “Back Market reflex” to all refurbished products

Cell phones are getting more and more expensive, and the new versions released each year are less and less different from the previous generations… making refurbished phones increasingly attractive.

As a result, it is only logical that they should be the Back Market loss leader that converts the most new followers. But they are far from the startup’s only inventory! “In reality, we now offer as many products as Darty, from gaming consoles to lint shavers by way of ovens, smart speakers and drones,” Léa Marekovic remarks. “And our goal is obviously to the visibility of those categories, because that’s the source of our growth.”

Newsletter électroménager Back Market
Developing the visibility of non-smartphone product categories is a priority.

Retaining customers and encouraging repeat business

The second avenue for development, with which many CRM managers and e-merchants will identify, is maximizing repeat business and boosting customer engagement.

To put it plainly, “it’s about increasing customer value and reducing the time between purchases,” Léa Marekovic explains. “Here again, we use email a lot to keep the brand present in consumers’ minds, bolster the reputations of our product categories and perfect our reactivation strategies.” The frequency at which consumers replace their smartphones (every 18 months on average) provides an initial basis for segmentation and is a strong indicator of the life cycle of a customer who was drawn to Back Market by a phone.

READ ALSO > eCRM: Five objectives achieved by BUT thanks to Dartagnan

Back Market’s global “screw new” ambition

The startup’s final avenue for strategic development: international. The ambition for the long term is to establish its slogan, “screw new,” well beyond the six countries where it is already in use (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the US) and throughout Europe, in particular.

Exemples d'email international Back Market
Exemples d'email international Back Market

News about Back Market’s international expansion… always with humor.

Pour harmoniser les différentes prises de parole dans ces 6 pays (et les nombreux autres à venir), Back Market utilise l’email builder de Dartagnan. « Toutes les campagnes sont conçues avec cet outil, explique Emma Susar, CRM Coordinateur. Nous utilisons ensuite les flux dynamiques, une fonctionnalité bien pratique de Dartagnan pour « appeler » les bons champs de texte dans la bonne langue, pays par pays. »

À LIRE AUSSI > Comment Dartagnan facilite vos campagnes email à l’international

Dartagnan, Back Market’s partner since 2018

The need for an email design tool capable of managing multilingual campaigns was not the only reason for choosing our responsive email design solution in SaaS mode.
With Back Market’s growth (in revenue and its customer database), the challenges associated with CRM and email marketing have become higher and more complex. And so, the e-merchant started to look for a solution that would allow it to:

  • have a consistent email creation tool across all of its different markets
  • produce its email campaigns more and more quickly
  • give itself more options for creative expression.

Dartagnan vs Mailchimp: More flexibility, speed and creative possibilities

Before opting for Dartagnan in April 2018, Back Market designed its campaigns using Mailchimp. A robust, widespread email builder… but one that no longer met the expectations of the teams who wanted to free themselves from its overly rigid templates.

“From this perspective, Dartagnan and Mailchimp are like night and day!” Emma Susar exclaims. “We are less restricted by the tool, the field of possibilities is immense… and its ease of use on a day-to-day basis is without equal.”

Instead of the templates employed by traditional email builders, which are merely prefabricated emails that are only peripherally personalizable, Dartagnan utilizes a completely free design system with drag-and-drop functions that are highly intuitive, even for non-designers.

Some of the other benefits identified by Léa Marekovic and Emma Susar, who use Dartagnan on a daily basis, include:

  • the possibility of really creating optimized versions for desktops AND mobile devices (for example, with the option of displaying certain elements on desktops only and not on smartphones)
  • the quality of the HTML code generated by the tool, ensuring better deliverability. “Even we, as marketers, are able to understand the code, because of how ‘clean’ it is,” notes Emma Susar.

Huge savings in the time it takes to produce campaigns

Being able to fine-tune and dress up your messages is great. But our solution also (and above all) aims to save teams time. Which is why our users, like Back Market’s CRM team, can rely on our modules.

These combinations of visual elements provide access to sub-sets of emails (with a header, a footer, a “grid” of visuals, descriptions, prices, calls to action, etc.) designed once and for all, which can be used for all future campaigns. An ideal way to reconcile creativity with productivity!

And a way, in the end, to make sure you have campaign components that comply with the brand’s graphic charter, in its best possible expression.

READ ALSO > Email marketing: How MATY makes its campaigns sparkle

A precious advantage when rebranding Back Market

The teams were able to confirm this during the company’s major marketing project in the first half of 2019: the overhaul of the Back Market brand. Between its new logo, new policies, new colors and more, there were no half measures with Back Market’s rebranding.
The goal was to elevate the brand without denying its disruptive side, even if Vianney Vaute had some questions about this. “With a more fastidious brand identity, couldn’t our tone come across as artificial? Did we need to downplay it? The answer was a definitive no. We even went back to our roots and reconnected with our original DNA,” he observes.

Out with the old elements of the graphic charter. And in with… cold sweats for the CRM team. “It occurred to us right away,” Emma Susar and Léa Marekovic acknowledge. “There were 150 emails to revisit from top to bottom, and there are only two of us on the team. How were we going to manage?”

Exemple de newsletter de Back Market avant le rebranding
Exemple de newsletter de Back Market après le rebranding

Back Market emails, before and after the overhaul of its graphic charter

The answer? With pretty cool heads! Thanks precisely to the organization in modules, the CRM first implemented the charter’s new components in the most common “areas” (the header and footer), allowing them to rebrand a good portion of those 150 emails. The most visible part was done.Then, the two young women gradually applied the charter to each of the existing modules and campaigns. After just a few weeks, the CRM team’s email arsenal had been fully “refurbished”… in other words, better than new. And here’s the proof!

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