Case Study

Ivory Ella grows revenue 364% with Email Aptitude; campaign strategy, content, and design guidance spotlights brand’s cause-driven approach

A desire to do good needs concrete support to become reality -- as the founders of Ivory Ella discovered following their brand’s successful launch and lightning-fast growth. Thanks to Email Aptitude, Ivory Ella can share the conservation mission behind its products more effectively, reaching a growing audience with relevant triggered messaging and seasonal promotions.

Performance Highlights

  • Email revenues increased 364% year-over-year for the fourth quarter in 2016, including an 825% jump in email-driven sales for December.
  • Growth of 327% in the number of emails delivered for the fourth quarter in 2016 compared to 2015
  • Double-digit improvements in engagement metrics for triggered email series such as abandoned cart reminders and welcome emails for new subscribers
  • New email designs tailored for the mobile-first generation that showcase a variety of themed content


It all began with a ring. College student John Allen was running a clothing business out of his parents’ basement, and noticed that a ring with an elephant motif was a particularly strong seller. Allen and partner Jacob Castaldi also noticed that social media content about elephant conservation, battling the ivory trade, and fair treatment of circus elephants were all trending. Based on that inspiration, Castaldi and Allen got in touch with Matt Fiano, a high school teacher with a side hustle in social media branding, and, along with two other co-founders Ryan Duranso and Esma Ilyas, they set about creating an environmentally-conscious brand for the next generation.

Ivory Ella’s apparel and accessories feature an elephant logo, and 10% of net profits are donated to organizations supporting elephant conservation, along with an array of other causes -- a smart strategy, given that 60% of consumers believe doing good should be part of a brand’s DNA. Two-thirds of consumers overall and 72% of teenagers say they’re willing to pay more for goods from brands that support social and environmental sustainability.

Thanks to the founding team’s connections with social media influencers and pre-launch teasers on Facebook and Twitter, Ivory Ella’s April 2015 debut made a big splash. The initial run of 500 shirts sold out within 17 minutes.

Since then, the brand has grown by leaps and bounds, moving its headquarters out of Fiano’s home and into a 42,000-square-foot space in Rhode Island. Contributions to conservation and social causes top $1.2 million to date. The brand’s social media community on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other outlets tops two and a half million members, and a college ambassador program on more than 30 campuses promises to spread the word still further.

With fast growth came the need to expand marketing capabilities quickly. Ivory Ella partnered with Email Aptitude in August of 2016 to provide a full range of email marketing services and strengthen a core engagement channel for its audience. Since the teams began working together, deliverability has improved significantly thanks to improved list hygiene, and Ivory Ella has seen substantial a substantial jump in email engagement and sales.

“The team at Email Aptitude collaborates freely with us, and we’re able to seamlessly coordinate messaging and execute new campaigns quickly, thanks to their expert guidance, we’ve built email into a core channel for engaging with our growing audience.”

– Ivory Ella.

Redesigned Emails Capture Vitality of Viral Brand

The Email Aptitude team gave Ivory Ella’s emails a makeover to increase flexibility with the product and content mix. Whereas previously, product arrays in email messages were automatically populated, with a limited number of drag-and-drop areas for custom promotions, Email Aptitude’s revamp enabled creation of custom themed designs and a variety of calls-to-action at the product, category, or site level.

For example, Ivory Ella frequently introduces new arrivals -- whether new fabric prints, new products or even whole new categories -- and the team can now create custom clusters of those fresh picks for individual email campaigns. To ease the transition from email to purchase and further boost effectiveness, Email Aptitude’s specialists are now working in tandem with Ivory Ella’s web development team to create custom landing pages featuring all the products in a particular campaign.

The Millennial and Generation Z consumers who comprise the brand’s core demographic primarily shop via mobile devices -- 53% of teens say they make purchases primarily via smartphone -- so it was essential that the new design be mobile-friendly. Selecting fonts and setting text size for maximum legibility and including plenty of large, easily-tapped calls-to-action have boosted mobile effectiveness.

New Promotions Drive Blockbuster Holiday Season

Another top priority for Email Aptitude at the beginning of the partnership with Ivory Ella was to develop a campaign calendar and consistent cadence -- especially in light of the rapidly-approaching peak holiday season.

In 2015, Ivory Ella’s holiday offerings had been limited, with no special promotions or discounts offered for red-letter sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, Ivory Ella and Email Aptitude developed a series of promotions that powered a 364% year-over-year email revenue increase for the fourth quarter -- including a whopping 825% jump in email-driven sales for December. The last month of the year was the first that Ivory Ella topped $1 million in email revenue.

For starts, campaigns surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday extended the promotions to nearly a full week. Black Friday promotions were released on the Thanksgiving holiday itself -- a smart move, given that online sales Thanksgiving Day grew 17% year over year in 2016, topping $1 billion for the third year -- and then extended through the weekend. Then, the team followed Cyber Monday with a Giving Tuesday event that aligned with the brand’s focus on charitable contributions.

Later in the season, a “12 Days of Ella” eCommerce site promotion spotlighted individual products day by day with a special themed design; email campaigns clustering and recapping the product picks so far were effective in driving sales -- offering timely holiday content without overwhelming subscribers’ inboxes daily. In addition, emails spotlighting segmented gift picks from Ivory Ella’s gift guide kept the focus on holiday shopping.

“The strategic guidance Email Aptitude provided for the holidays was invaluable, thanks to the variety of promotions and messaging we presented, we saw record engagement with email content -- and achieved fantastic sales growth.”

– Ivory Ella.

Revamped Triggered Series Produce Results

Email Aptitude’s team also worked with Ivory Ella to produce year-round results with the brand’s triggered email campaigns. Cart abandonment, welcome emails to new subscribers, and messages to members of the Club Ella loyalty program were all refreshed to drive improved results.

Cart abandonment emails were segmented so that shoppers new to Ivory Ella received a discount offer with the second abandonment reminder. Content for all recipients was revamped, driving an improvement in the click-to-delivery rate of 10% for the first email and 43% for the second email. Overall average order size has increased 15% for the first email and 9% for the second email.

Engagement for welcome emails to new shoppers who haven’t yet purchased received a similar boost thanks to Email Aptitude’s strategic guidance. Messages spotlight the ever-increasing variety of products Ivory Ella offers, along with the brand’s focus on animal conservation, along with enticements to join its huge and active social media audience. As a result, the click-to-delivery rate jumped 71%, while revenue-per-delivery rose 41%.

About Email Aptitude

Email Aptitude is a leading ESP-agnostic email agency, providing strategy and full-service management for some of the world's largest brands and fastest growing startups. The Email Aptitude team is made up of industry veterans and the new bright minds of email who work tirelessly to crush records for our clients.