Catbird’s Retention Strategy Is All About Helping Customers Build a Jewelry Collection Over Time

Catbird brand photo featuring a model wearing jewelry
Published on
Jul 27, 2023
Written by
Kayla Ellman
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Learn how the brand uses SMS to keep customers coming back for more—online and in-store.

Catbird makes jewelry that you never have to take off. Their pieces are delicate with an air of luxury and built to last forever. In other words, they're timeless. 

The now cult-favorite brand entered the scene in 2004 with a tiny storefront in Williamsburg, launched their first website in 2008, and has since become a go-to place for people looking to invest in and grow a collection of modern fine jewelry. Their product lineup includes necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, and more made with ethically-sourced gold, precious stones, and diamonds.  

We sat down with Lisa Marcum, Retention Marketing Manager at Catbird, to talk about how the brand puts their core values first, the role of SMS in building life-long customer relationships, and what the company has in store for the future.

Catbird is committed to being a sustainable and charitable company. How is that reflected in your marketing strategy?

Sustainability is at the heart of what we do—making beautiful, long-lasting jewelry with the lowest environmental impact. We weave that ethos into all of our marketing messaging, and we make sure to emphasize that all of our pieces are made with recycled gold and diamonds. 

SMS campaign example from Catbird

We're proud to have donated 1.8 million dollars to date, and counting, through The Catbird Giving Fund. We do campaigns around popular moments like Giving Tuesday and International Women's Day, but we don't only talk about important causes when everyone else is. We want to shine a light on and support them all year round. 

There's a charitable and sustainable aspect to everything we do, and I think those values are a big part of why customers keep coming back.

What specific strategies do you use to keep customers interested and coming back for more pieces to add to their collection?

Nurturing our customers to increase their lifetime value is a big focus for us. We don’t have an official loyalty program, but we keep a running list of our VIP customers and send them exclusive rewards through SMS, like early access to promotions and product launches.

VIP SMS campaign example from Catbird

We also have a triggered winback journey for customers who've bought from us before but haven't been active recently. We'll send them a small discount to try to get them to come back and make another purchase. 

We don't discount very often. We only have two major sales a year, and they both fall around Black Friday. But we use discounts strategically, particularly with our winback and VIP customers, to show how much we value them and keep them active. 

We also use data from Attentive to identify our high-intent customers. These are customers who open our text messages, click on links, browse our site, and have even purchased before, just not recently. We've seen great success with targeting these "active" shoppers and getting them back after not buying anything for a while. 

How else do you use SMS to drive engagement and revenue? How has your strategy evolved over the last few years? 

When I joined Catbird, we were just getting SMS up and running. We were only sending around one campaign a week, if that, but the results were great. We quickly realized that we needed to be sending more messages, more often, and tapping into different customer journeys and segments to get the most out of our program. 

I didn't have much experience with SMS before I started working at Catbird. I was shocked that we could send one simple text and generate more revenue than an email, even though our SMS list is smaller. It was amazing to see how engaged our SMS subscribers are and how quickly they shop when they get a message from us.

- Lisa Marcum, Retention Marketing Manager at Catbird

Since then, we've increased our cadence to three or four campaigns per week. We've done lots of testing with our sign-up units, campaigns, and triggered journeys to figure out what works best and keep improving our strategies. That's how we came up with our joined a segment journey for high-intent purchasers, and now it's one of our most powerful tactics—it’s more successful than our browse and cart abandonment journeys combined.

We also love using our other marketing channels to boost SMS. We promote signing up for texts through email and social, and, if we have a new product launch, we’ll give our SMS list ‌early access to really treat them like VIPs. 

Catbird has three stores in New York, and is getting ready to open another one in LA. How do you think about the customer journey for in-store vs. online shoppers? 

We do something called Zapping at Catbird, where you can come into one of our stores and get a permanent bracelet custom fit and welded around your wrist. A lot of people get Zapped and then we never see them again because they view it as a one-time service. We're really focused on nurturing those customers with drip campaigns that encourage them to come back and shop with us—either in-store or online.

Geo-targeted SMS campaign example from Catbird

Before we decided to open our next location in LA, we also hosted a bunch of pop-ups in different cities to understand where our customers would be most likely to shop in-store. We’ll definitely use our SMS channel to promote the new store opening and get people excited about it. We might even give people who came to the pop-up early access to shop or get Zapped before anyone else.

Catbird also collaborates with partners on exclusive collections, most recently teaming up with musician Phoebe Bridgers. How do you decide who to work with? And how do you make sure these collaborations feel authentic and on-brand?

Phoebe Bridgers is one of the first major celebrities we’ve designed a collection with, and it all happened really organically. She tagged us in a post on Instagram, so we reached out and asked if she’d want to partner with us—and she said yes. 

SMS product launch campaign example from Catbird

We’re very lucky to be able to work with people who are already fans of Catbird. Our social team takes care of all the influencer outreach, and we focus on making sure they align with our values and that their content looks similar to ours so we can repurpose it more easily. We don’t put a lot of emphasis on big name influencers. Instead, we prefer to partner with ‌micro-influencers who genuinely like our brand because that's ultimately what resonates with our audience.

Every time we do a collaboration, we also make sure a portion of the proceeds goes to a charity we choose with our partner. For the Phoebe Bridgers collection, we donated to The National Center for Transgender Equality.

What's next for Catbird? What are you most excited about?

We started as a jewelry company that did “tiny and shiny,” and we've‌ stayed true to that because people still want small and dainty pieces. To this day, our classic best-sellers are still all of our stacking rings because you can keep adding to them over time.

SMS campaign examples from Catbird

But we're excited to be branching out a little, to allow ourselves to be more competitive and have some fun. We have a lot of exciting product launches coming up this summer, and we're getting ready to add some colorful pieces to our line, which is new for us. 

We also want to grow the wedding and engagement side of the business, and make Catbird a place people come to celebrate a big milestone or occasion.

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