Case Study

Case Studies



Improved Inbox Placement Rates Lead to Higher Revenue and Increased Store Traffic for Dillard’s

We thought that sending relevant, wanted emails to our subscribers was enough to ensure strong deliverability.

Thanks to Return Path we now have a team of experts to guide us through the complex maze of email deliverability and reputation management. In terms of ROI, beyond helping us to secure a profitable holiday shopping season, we see the returns every day as our email revenues continue to grow."

- Mike Hodapp Digital Marketing, Dillard's

A Leader in Apparel, Home Furnishings & Cosmetics

Dillard’s is one of the nation’s largest retailers with 296 locations and 14 clearance centers across 29 states. With revenues in excess of $6 billion, Dillard’s is the shopping destination of choice for consumers seeking the best brands, great fashion and the latest selections in apparel, cosmetics and home furnishings. Today, the company boasts a strong e-commerce business boosted by a thriving email communications program.

When Relevancy Isn’t Enough

The Dillard’s email program is unique in that it is not offer-oriented like most retailers, so there is no free shipping, coupons or other incentives. Instead there is a laser focus on relevancy, timing and brand value. By targeting subscribers based on purchase history, Dillard’s customers receive emails related to items they have purchased in the past. For example, a female shopper who recently purchased perfume by Lancome would be eligible to receive an email featuring luxury brand perfumes or a new face cream by Lancome. Dillard’s also uses geo-targeting to increase store foot traffic by keeping their email subscribers up to date on special store events that often feature appearance by celebrities like Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Jessica Simpson. Overall, Dillard’s efforts are paying off as email program revenues doubled year-over-year.

You would think that adhering to best practices and sending only highly relevant emails should mean near perfect inbox placement for the Dillard’s team. Unfortunately the high-volume of spam and illegitimate email has made email deliverability a complex challenge for even the best senders. A sudden decline in open rates prompted the Dillard’s team to take a hard look at their program – and their deliverability strategy.

A Fresh Perspective Yields Excellent Results

With the critical holiday shopping season fast approaching, Dillard’s signed on as a Platinum-level client with Return Path. This means Dillard’s receives proactive, full-service account management from an expert team along with complete access to Return Path’s leading deliverability platform. Within just a few days, the Return Path team identified significant deliverability issues including blocking problems at AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo!. This explained the decline in open rates so the next step was to diagnose the cause of the blocking and implement a remedy. This included optimizing Dillard’s custom-built email deployment system, enhanced list hygiene practices and feedback loop management. From day one, the Dillard’s team was an active partner, making the needed adjustments to achieve their email objectives.

The results were exceptional and immediate. Within the first 30-days, Dillard’s saw open rates improve to pre-crisis levels. At the same time, with access to Return Path’s deliverability suite, they were able to watch as their inbox placement rates improved to just shy of 100%. With these impressive inbox placement rates, Dillard’s experienced a corresponding increase in email revenue and store foot traffic. All of this was done just in time for the holiday shopping season.