Growing data in a garden centre

Understanding where current customers live and what they look like in demographics can curate new customers by identifying people that look just like existing ones so each can be reached with variable and meaningful messaging.

Ohio-based GIE Media Inc. hosted a ‘How to leverage existing customer data or… how to obtain it’ webinar on 27 October to learn more about data collection and how they can improve profits for garden retailers, reports Anisa Gress for FCI.

We live in a world of data creation. The amount of data collected between 2015-2016 was more than the previous 5,000 years, and in 2017 it exceeded both of those figures combined. Although just under half a per cent is analysed for decision-making, it can make a big difference to a business.

Targeted marketing

In the garden centre sector, customer data is collected through many channels, such as sign-ups to gardening clubs, loyalty schemes, transactions and coupon redemption used for mailouts to increase footfall with varying results. But by working out exactly what data to use and how to use it and then targeting specific customers with bespoke and personal messaging, Smart.Market for Business has proved it can yield impressive results and ensure every dollar spent provides a return

Garden Center magazine, the leading industry trade publication serving independent garden centre retailers in North America, and its publisher GIE Media Inc. hosted the webinar with viewers from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. Guest speaker Sarah May, Vice President of Smart.Market for Business revealed that even though one of its garden centre customers reduced mailouts from one million to 70,000 households, it still managed to gain 1,800 new customers and create an additional $275,000 through targeted marketing.n.

Meaningful messaging

They are based in the USA, Smart.Market helps businesses pinpoint precisely who their customers are, where they are, how to appeal to them and how to grow their customer base.
Sarah says that understanding where current customers live and what they look like in terms of demographics can curate new customers by identifying people that look just like existing ones so each can be reached with variable and meaningful messaging.

Suppose retailers have customer addresses or even just zip codes, Smart.Market can input them into its patented software to create what can be a randomly shaped heat map showing where customers live by combining this information with that from data company Acxiom, Smart.Market can find out, for example, the number of homeowners, customers’ ages, their birthdays, household income and homes with a pool. And importantly, it can also gain insights into where potential new customers are likely to live. By knowing this variable, messaging can be created, such as using an image of a garden with a pool for households with one and a different image for those without.

“The goal then might be customer loyalty, where we want to message our customers to get a perfect bump in sales or let them know about a big event we are having, or it could be to message everyone else in the area that looks like existing customers,” says Sarah.

“This can be achieved by seeing how many other potential households in the area share the most relevant or desired demographics, for example, seniors or millennials.”

Case study

Using a garden centre example, Sarah was able to show how personalised messages and promotional offers resulted in an uplift in in-store traffic and an impressive number of new customers.

Other objectives were to drive website traffic and capture response rates. Data was captured via a two-dimensional barcode and QR code on the mailout, each specific to an individual household. Once redeemed, the retailer returned the coupons to Smart.Market for it to log responding households and add to the data. This same barcode and QR system are also an excellent tool for helping businesses set up a new customer database if they don’t already have one.

By identifying the most promising customers or potential look-a-like customers, the garden centre reduced its mail-out by 93 per cent from 1.1 million households to 70,000, of which just 24,5000 were existing customers. “This can be extremely scary-thinking — ‛I’m reducing that many households, there is no way I’m going to get the type of response from that fewer households’ — but we were able to do it very efficiently by utilising existing data,” says Sarah.

For the same budget, the garden centre achieved an overall response rate of 11.79 per cent, compared to just 0.29 per cent using its previous method and gained an extra 1,800 new customers. Its cost per redemption was reduced by 61 per cent (from $942 to $3.68), and revenue from the campaign rose from $236,000 for the standard mailout to $528,000.

As well as physical mailouts, Smart.Market also offers digital campaigns reaching customers through various platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and email. The database platform currently only works within the USA, covering business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing.

For more information, visit

This article was first published in the January 2023 edition of FloraCulture International.

↑ Back to top