How a Sunglasses Brand Built its Email Following

In this post, we feature Marien Klootwijk who built a brand from the ground up. His online store is made with WooCommerce.

Email newsletters are at the center of his strategy. He shares his strategy and insights with us.

Here’s a sneak peak at his stats before we dig in his story:

  • 3,300 subscribers
  • Open rate of 15%
  • Click rate of 2.5%
  • Frequency: 1 to 2 times per month
  • A new coupon in every newsletter

Eye on the prize

Marien Klootwijk is a self-described serial entrepreneur, so when he saw an opportunity to offer high-quality sunglasses at an affordable price, he knew it had the potential to become a successful online store.

I came across a pair of unusual sunglasses that had colourful lenses and a sleek design, but they were way over budget and shipping was double the price of the sunglasses,” he says.

I began looking for an alternative, but at the time, I could not find any at a reasonable price, nor could I get these in my home country, The Netherlands.”

Marien saw a gap in the market not only for the type of product he wanted to offer, but in a country overlooked by larger sunglasses companies.

The Netherlands isn’t known for its fantastic weather, but the southern part has strong ties to the sea, beaches, and by far the most hours of sunlight of the whole year,” he says. “I knew that I could bring these type of sunglasses to The Netherlands and the province of Zeeland would be the place to do it.”

Sunglasses in pouch.

In 2012, Marien launched Mariener, with a clear focus on affordability.

However, knowing that the eyewear business is extremely crowded, he understood the need to define a clear brand, cultivate an audience, and continue evolving, all at the same time.

Over the course of a few years, the company grew, and eventually, Mariener launched it’s very own Kickstarter with the promise to revolutionize the way sunglasses looked thanks to Matte Reflective Lenses.

With this technology, they were the first in the world to introduce this type of product at such an affordable price.

Building a great store

From day one, the Mariener online shop was built with WooCommerce and WordPress. “I had experience with WordPress and all sorts of dedicated shop environments, from open source to paid solutions. I figured that WordPress and WooCommerce would be the way to go,” says Marien.

When it was time to introduce a newsletter solution, choosing a reputable WordPress plugin made sense. “MailPoet offers basically everything we need,” he says. “When we chose it, it was way ahead of its time for a newsletter tool.

MailPoet offers basically everything we need

With MailPoet, now Marien uses the user-friendly drag and drop tool that drastically reduces the time it takes him and his team to create an attractive and engaging newsletter for their customers.

The art of the newsletter

Mariener email example.

According to Marien, email marketing has become an important tool for his company to market their products. “It was a no-brainer to start sending recurring newsletters,” he says. “Since our Kickstarter last year, we’ve started seeing an increase of subscribers and it’s growing by the month.

It’s no secret that online shopping can lack the human touch of a brick and mortar store. Marien felt that the website alone wouldn’t be enough to reach out to customers on a personal level and a  newsletter could build that bridge.

The design of the newsletter plays a big part in communicating the brand’s value and engaging its customers. “Mariener stands for efficiency and no-nonsense,” says Marien. “It’s the same for our newsletter. We go straight to the point with the way we inform our customers.

Even the choice of colours and photos has been carefully thought out. “The colour orange has always been one of my favourites and represents The Netherlands,” he says.

I’m proud that Mariener is Dutch, proud to be the underdog in a billion-dollar industry and with our size, we are still able to innovate and come up with a desirable product line-up every year. This personal pride also continuous with the way we use photos from customers that find their way into our newsletter or social media.

Staying relevant in a noisy space

Email marketing has been a driving force that has positively impacted our business in a massive way,” says Marien.

Our list was growing consistently, but it really took off after we introduced a signup form at the bottom of our website.

His team usually sends out one or two newsletters per month depending on the season, and he keeps them short and simple. He feels this strategy avoids flooding subscribers’ inboxes and minimises unsubscribes from recipients experiencing email fatigue.

With so many brands competing for attention, Marien suggests creating value for subscribers with exclusive content. “Subscribers are the first to hear about deals or updates,” he says. “This, coupled with an incentive, really makes the difference in whether people sign up, and stay signed up over a prolonged period.