February 15, 2017
Case Study

Email Marketing: How MVMT Watches increased holiday revenue gains 262% with optimized content


As a bootstrapped startup, MVMT Watches has a strict focus on profitability. That is what lead them to develop the email channel, expanding from one or two emails a month to at least once a week.

Read how the team grew revenue 105% in three months using segmentation, personalization and compelling content.

by Courtney Eckerle, Senior Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa

MVMT Watches is a true startup — it started when Jake Kassan, CEO and his roommate at the time, Kramer LaPlante, COO, both of MVMT Watches, were in college.

“We were both entrepreneurial, both had some previous successes in ecommerce and crowdfunding,” Kassan said. “Being 21-year-old broke college kids, we were looking for a company that we could start with minimal capital and trying to find a gap in the market.”

With a penchant for fashion, and watches specifically, the two soon discovered that there wasn’t a brand that they felt truly resonated with them when it came to overall design and minimalist aesthetic.  

“Just from a brand perspective, I feel that [established brands] did a poor job at really identifying with their consumer. Whether it was Michael Kors that was very gaudy, or you have Fossil which is a little bland,” he said, adding that other brands focused mainly on sports.

Aside from that, they were all extremely expensive, which lead Kassan and LaPlante to develop a direct-to-consumer model.

“Having a direct-to-consumer model, we were able to offer the watches that were priced between $95 to $150, where our competitors were selling them for $300 to $500,” he said.


MVMT Watches was created to not only be fashion forward and affordable, but also aspirational for customers — “something that was more than just a watch, but … an accessory and a fashion piece,” he said.

The duo launched on Indiegogo and raised $300,000 with future customers in about 50 days. They then continued to reinvest that into the business to avoid taking on any outside capital.

Last year, MVMT Watches made $60 million in revenue. It’s been under four years since launching with that $300,000, and the team has built off of customers’ growing desire to dress with intention.

“Whether someone goes for a cup of coffee or out to an event at night, they're thinking of what they want to wear head-to-toe, from shoes to shirt to what's on their wrist,” he said.

That's the type of consumer, Kassan said, that MVMT Watches tries to identify with. The company’s more specific niche is men and women between 18 and 40 years old.


Being in a consumer realm, MVMT Watches wanted to focus on “being a healthy, profitable brand from day one. So there's really not that many brands out there that have done it to this scale, at least,” Kassan said.

Being healthy and profitable meant focusing on marketing. In this case, email marketing.

“Finding a good ESP was definitely the number one challenge,” he said. Being a startup, they didn’t have the capital to go directly to a big provider, but they wanted to prove the channel.  

“We just didn't know the best way to utilize it,” Kassan said, adding that the team wanted to find an ESP that was “affordable, but also really powerful and had a flexibility in what we wanted to do.”

The team was looking for an agency that could teach them about email marketing and implementing relevant campaigns.

“We wanted to drive revenue. We also wanted to increase email capture on the site. We have a ton of traffic and figured that we should be optimizing,” he said.

The team wanted to move away from campaigns blasting their entire list and “start slow, and build segments. And also have drip campaigns where if someone abandoned their carts they would get a series of emails, or a welcome series … that would introduce them to the brand.”


With an established agency, the team wanted to capitalize on welcome series campaigns and segmented emails that could be personalized to the specific audience.

“We didn't want to destroy our email base and we wanted to respect the inboxes of our customers. If we were going to send an email out, we wanted to send something of value. So it was either content, some type of exclusive deal, or a new product release,” Kassan said.

Step #1. Audit your email program

First of all, the team needed to go beyond the one or two emails a month they were sending previously.

“I think we had a drip campaign for abandon cart and that was about it. But we weren't testing and we weren't segmenting more granularly,” he said.

They decided that it was critical to not only find the right sending cadence, but segment those sends for different customers.

The team wanted to start off with drip campaigns, for instance, a welcome campaign that is a series of three. The first arrives within 24 hours, the second, more informational send comes three days later, and the final send with a discount offer comes three days after that.

They also implemented another drip, a browse abandonment campaign, which triggered an email if the customer actively views a product, but doesn’t purchase.

Aside from drip campaigns like the two above, the company decided to cadence segments and send to customers at least once a week, careful not to overcorrect exhausting the email channel with over sending. Not only did they need to create different segments — men and women, for example — they needed to test.

“Luckily, a good ESP is able to detect that within a small sample size and then send all those emails out. So little things like that have a big impact when you start to build up your email base,” Kassan said.

The team also A/B tested emails length and content — for example, this more image focused email versus a longer, more detailed email.

Step #2. Utilize a content calendar for personalized segmentation

Segmentation was key, Kassan said, especially when it came to segmenting for customers in different countries.  

“Some countries don't celebrate certain holidays,” he said. “That's something that we'll play around with.”

He gave the examples of not wanting to send a winter creative if it’s summer in Australia, or capitalizing on Single’s Day in Japan.  

The team played around with send times as well, not only so send times would make sense no matter what time zone they were sent in, but to discover the best time for their customers.

“Little things like that we've segmented out … that's where [our vendor] really came in and helped bring that knowledge to the table and then helped just manage the process and be proactive rather than reactive,” he said.

Before, he said, a lot of the email marketing strategy was done in-house, and the team was really “trying to hold our agency’s hand.”

Part of the goal in finding a new ESP was being able to utilize them as a partner, who could take control of the email marketing calendar and set up a to-do list that would benefit the audience, he added.

Alongside their current vendor, the team established not only a consistent cadence for email messaging, but an editorial calendar that would showcase engaging content. Then, they send that content to the customer group it was relevant for.

Step #3. Utilize engaging content in sends

During the holidays, Kassan said, “so many brands only post sale, sale, sale, and you either convert or you don't.”

The team introduced a flash sale for the weekend prior to Black Friday to drive engagement and interactions with the brand, allowing the brand to stand out during a crowded holiday season.

The team also released a Cyber Monday send with email content that included a dynamic countdown clock to foster a sense of urgency. This resulted in a significant Thanksgiving weekend sales jump, meaning that clickthrough rates grew by 30% — powering 192% revenue gains for the weekend.

The team tried to weigh the outcome in their favor by making holiday messaging valuable with brand content. For example, blog content that is related to that holiday:

“We use blog content in our emails, and we've done some really cool videos … high production videos that we're traveling the world,” Kassan said. “Again, our being a watch is something you can bring anywhere, and we've wanted to have that aspiration.”

Aside from just video content, social media platforms like Instagram keep up the aspirational, travel theme, and those are also utilized in emails.

“It’s just more visually appealing, and it's a good break between just sale messaging or just watches,” he said.

Occasionally, the team even utilizes influencers in the fashion sphere, with an influencer spotlight.

“Whether it's a fashion blogger, or a photographer, or someone who travels across the globe. We'll highlight them as the personality and then have a campaign regarding them,” he said.


“We’re always testing, always making iterations,” Kassan said. “[Email] one of our most impactful channels now.”

It’s the company’s most profitable channel, he added, and the team is always looking for ways to build it and continue to optimize it. The results from this campaign, when the team switched ESPs and began focusing on relevancy, were:

  • The first three months saw revenue growth of 105% and email conversion rates grow by 55% compared to the preceding three months
  • Adjusted calendar strategy and optimized email content to increase engagement 30% and revenue 196% YOY over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday holiday kickoff weekend, leading to overall holiday revenue gains of 262%
  • An optimized welcome series that increased open rates by 30% and conversion rates by 45%, compared to previous welcome messaging

“It’s a great way to connect with the consumer directly,” Kassan said. “This is the most powerful and best way to get customers to our site, whether we want them to convert or engage with something.”

Creative Samples

  1. Welcome email #1
  2. Welcome email #3
  3. Male segmented email
  4. Female segmented email
  5. A test email
  6. B test email
  7. Black Friday
  8. Cyber Monday
  9. Content send


MVMT Watches

Email Aptitude – MVMT’s full-service email marketing agency

Related Resources

Learn more about MVMT Watches as a presenter at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

Marketing Chart: What consumers think of companies’ marketing

Social Media Marketing: HP finds its voice on Snapchat and sees a 10x increase in engagement

Anticipate: How to create an interactive, two-way conversation in email marketing

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