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Wednesday, March 5, 2008’s sales are blooming
 with new site and e-mail system

A redesigned web site and a beefed up e-mail marketing system boosted sales 22% last year at, says owner Ray Allen. Average purchase amount also increased 34% between 2006 and 2007, climbing from about $60 to $80. This year’s sales are projected to come in between $3 million and $4 million, Allen says.

The new web site, designed and built by web development firm Timberline Interactive Inc., implements new features such as cross-selling and site search functionality, a blog and a range of easily accessible “quick guides”—with FAQs and “how-to’s” on gardening. Allen says it cost about $175,000 to create the new site and necessary back-end systems to work with it.

“We really wanted to present more and better information, and improve navigation,” Allen says. “We also have, for the first time, a capability to cross-sell. Now, if you’re looking at Black Eyed Susans, we can say, ‘You may also like this or that as well.’ ”

The site also boasts a vibrant new “Member Meadows” section that hosts pictures sent in by proud customers showcasing their gardens. Allen gets about five photos a week and posts the best directly on his home page. Allen believes the additional eye candy is making an impact. “People are spending longer on the site because there’s more to see and they’re looking at more pages,” Allen says.

Visitors to during 2007 stayed 40 seconds longer than they did the year before. Amount of time spent per visit increased to 4 minutes 31 seconds, up 17% from 3 minutes 51 seconds in 2006. And, traffic increased to an average of 3,375 visitors per day last year, compared to 2,942 in 2006.

Some of that additional traffic could be a result of more of the company’s e-mails reaching inboxes. New e-mail marketing software from Bronto Software Inc. checks e-mail subject lines for words likely to trigger spam filters and displays the number of clicks for each link in every e-mail, allowing the retailer to assess the interest in each offer in a marketing e-mail. It also reports number of opens and click-throughs and how many e-mails were sent straight to junk folders. pays Bronto Software about $800 a month to send its weekly e-mails with coupons, freebies and news to a list of about 50,000. The price includes list maintenance and management. Before Bronto, managed its e-mail program in-house.

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