Purple leverages email to drive growth, innovation, and repeat purchases

How a leading comfort technology company continues to disrupt the traditional mattress industry with unprecedented customer retention

Purple Case Study

Arrow pointing up238%

Email subscriber list growth in 2020


Of Q4 email orders from repeat buyers

Arrow pointing up263%

Increase in Q4 email revenue YoY

Purple Logo

Purple is a leading comfort technology company and a disruptor to the traditional mattress industry, designing and manufacturing products to improve how people sleep, sit, and stand.

Key Channels Used

Purple, the world’s first comfort tech company backed by science, entered the mattress industry in 2016 and has since been a disrupter to the mattress category. Their strong digital presence and direct-to-consumer model helped propel the company’s growth over the last five years. In 2019, they outgrew their former email service provider (ESP) and made the decision to move to Cordial. Since then, Purple’s confidence in Cordial’s messaging and data platform has set the company up for immediate growth, and to scale their messaging programs for years to come. And despite a world-wide pandemic, the company continued to grow in 2020. 

The challenge

As with all retailers, Purple faced some major challenges in 2020 due to COVID-19.  In March 2020, many of their wholesale locations closed and brick and mortar consumer shopping significantly slowed. Purple knew with quarantine in full effect, the marketing team would be critical in capturing new customers and growing revenue with existing customers. “When quarantine started, our wholesale business effectively shut down. The vast majority of the stores where our mattresses are sold closed. We knew we really had to pick it up on the DTC end,” said Scott Cohen, Senior Email Marketing Manager at Purple.

The solution

In order for Purple to capture new customers, they looked for opportunities to get in front of people looking to buy a new mattress. They knew that customers in the middle of key life events have a much higher likelihood of purchasing a mattress. Using these insights, Purple partnered with key industry vendors to connect with these new potential customers. Providing an email opt-in on the third-party vendor sites, Purple captured new subscribers who were likely to need a mattress as part of their move. The key here is that these contacts opt in for the Purple emails and are expecting to receive them. This is required to keep Purple’s email program compliant and maintain their stellar deliverability rates. Scott further clarified with, “Each new subscriber we get from a third party knows they are signing up to receive email from us.”

Once opted in, these new contacts populate in Purple’s data warehouse, and sync with the Cordial Data Platform via API. Once added to Cordial, the Purple marketing team can trigger a unique welcome series using Cordial’s Cross-Channel Orchestration Builder. This email acquisition strategy through third-party vendor opt ins has been a crucial part of growing Purple’s email subscriber base.

In early 2020, Purple recognized a new demand for comfort at home. Many people were setting up home offices for the first time, and making investments in quality home office equipment. This prompted the Purple marketing team to test a promotional email for Purple seat cushions. This was the first time the seat cushions were promoted as the only product in an email, and the response was incredible. Based on the engagement data, Purple decided to launch a full digital campaign to promote their seat cushions—illustrating how impactful email can be in testing promotions and messaging, with a low investment and quick results.

Scott Cohen at Purple
"We tested a product email for seat cushions with a message around upgrading your home office and it was really well received. This email proved there was enough interest in the market to support a full digital campaign. And once that started, the category just exploded."

Scott Cohen, Senior Email Marketing Manager

Seat cushions weren’t the only product extension to make their way into Purple emails. In 2020, the email marketing team started promoting pillows, sheet sets, pet beds, and more from the full suite of Purple products. A far cry from 2019, when mattresses were the only star of the email show. This new marketing strategy opened up additional opportunities for upsells and repeat purchases. 

Purple leveraged Cordial’s real-time Audience Builder and segmentation tool, to build audiences on the fly based on their previous purchases. For example, Purple could easily send an email promotion to previous buyers of their sheet set when a newer, better version of sheets were launched. “Cordial has increased our ability to activate data,” noted Scott. “The audience building is super quick and easy. I get questions all the time about our customers, and how many customers fit a certain criteria. With Audience Builder, I can pull up an audience count in seconds, provide how many customers would qualify for the audience, or how many are subscribed or unsubscribed to email. It’s been really helpful for us to do audience sizing on the fly.”

"Cordial has increased our ability to activate data. With Audience Builder, I can pull up an audience count in seconds… It's been really helpful for us to do audience sizing on the fly."

Scott Cohen, Senior Email Marketing Manager

The new email strategy set the team up for success during an unpredictably early holiday shopping season. With Amazon pushing their annual Prime Day out to October, many retailers followed suit, releasing Black Friday deals earlier than ever before.

Before the busy holiday season, the Purple team created a gift guide full of accessories and began email promotion on November 2. This allowed them to send a variety of offers instead of mattress-only offers for a month before Cyber Week. Having multiple options for promotions also increased the volume of Purple’s email sends, since they no longer needed to exclude recent mattress buyers from email promotions. Instead, if a contact had recently bought a mattress, they might receive the gift guide with a mattress offer at the bottom, encouraging those that love their Purple mattress to share the sale with friends and family.

Purple’s client experience

Prior to using Cordial, the marketing team at Purple was accustomed to submitting support tickets and waiting long periods of time for responses from their ESP. Now they have direct access to a dedicated team of experts: a Client Success Manager, a Solutions Consultant, and a Deliverability Consultant. “Cordial has the best customer service of any ESP I’ve worked with and that is hands down the truth,” added Scott.

The result

With the help of the third-party vendor opt-ins, Purple grew their email subscriber list by 238% in 2020. They broke records with their largest email send in company history—2.7 million emails—on the day before Thanksgiving. Purple’s new customer retention strategies had an incredible impact as well. Revenue from repeat purchasers over Cyber Week was the highest in company history, and 70% of orders from email were from repeat buyers. Email revenue in Q4 2020 increased 263% year over year, while orders in Q4 2020 from email increased 206% year over year. Scott shared “We’ve definitely seen incredible ROI with Cordial. So much so that Cordial is now considered an operational expense instead of an advertising expense. I’d say that is the highest compliment you can give a marketing platform.”

Despite challenges faced by many direct-to-consumer companies, Purple continued to grow in 2020. With Cordial as their cross-channel messaging platform, they are well-positioned to launch an SMS program in 2021 and further expand their cross-channel marketing strategy. We can’t wait to see what 2021 brings!