Catbird Case Study: Humanizing the Digital Experience
Catbird is a New York City-based jewelry company that specializes in ethically sourced, demi-fine, handmade pieces. Starting as a small storefront in Brooklyn in 2004, Catbird has grown their physical footprint to three stores across New York, built a thriving online presence, and increased their internal headcount to 145 employees. For this direct-to-consumer brand, creating connections for and with their customers sits at the heart of everything they do.
In 2020, Catbird pivoted to a strictly digital presence, which presented unique challenges for a brand hyperfocused on cultivating personal interactions and moments of customer delight. Sriya Karumanchi, Catbird’s marketing and communications manager, spoke about what this shift from in-person to online shopping meant for the brand and how Catbird needed to reimagine the customer experience.
Sriya shared the brand was quick to partner with Imagination Media and Klaviyo to transform their high-touch, in-store experiences into powerful digital ones. As a digital agency and systems integrator, Imagination Media bundled the power of data science, creativity, and technology to refine and expand Catbird’s digital footprint.
Justin Ragsdale, Imagination Media’s vice president of business development, explained how the agency weaves digital touchpoints and marketing channels together to deliver a unified customer experience.
The importance of building customer relationships
Before diving into how Catbird translated their in-person customer experience online, Sriya explained why creating relationships with their customers is so important for the brand. She mentioned that buying a piece of jewelry or an engagement ring is an emotional purchase and often takes time and careful deliberation—so Catbird’s role is ultimately about problem solving to help their customers find the perfect piece of jewelry or item they’re shopping for.
The brand needed to build relationships with and support customers during the often slow process of making an important purchase. They knew how to do this in-person, so their goal was to create a digital experience that captured the same education and elements of their in-store interactions.
Fortunately, Catbird already knew a lot about what motivates and sparks joy for their customers in the buying experience. Sriya explained that Catbird’s customers care about product education—from the origin of the material to the maker’s creation process—as well as styling tips on how to build an everyday jewelry look and direct access to their jewelry experts based in Brooklyn.
How Imagination Media helped Catbird mimic in-person customer experiences
Catbird recognized that the most effective way to deliver impactful, in-store like experiences was through their owned marketing channels, like their website and email.
Based on the data they gathered from their community feedback loop and Magento analytics, Imagination Media helped Catbird craft highly personalized and targeted email campaigns in Klaviyo—they could build on what they knew from their in-store experiences to design a curated digital experience customers would appreciate.
These deep customer insights—from browsing habits to predicting when customers would make another purchase—allow Catbird to deliver powerful messages that resonate with customers like a unique in-store conversation.
Through email, Catbird engages in a digital dialogue with their customers. Justin shared that when a customer receives an email that contains content pertaining to a specific item they were browsing, shared customer testimonials, or outlined sizing guides, it’s the digital equivalent to a store associate suggesting different items or answering questions about the buying process.
Why personalization was key to Catbird’s online conversions
The digital ecommerce landscape is saturated, so differentiation is key. In order to stand out authentically, Catbird used personalization as part of their email marketing strategy to put the customer first, like sending tailored product recommendations to people based on their browsing history.
Sriya shared that the brand took the customers’ desire for personalized styling tips and reverse engineered that idea into relevant email content.
Through an email series meant to help customers achieve their own everyday “Catbird look,” Catbird highlighted product lines, shoppable user generated content (UGC), and infographic-style breakdowns of jewelry collections—all based on the products a customer had browsed in the past or added to their shopping carts.
Personalization helped Catbird’s customers problem solve and find relevant solutions to their inquiries, regardless of where they were in the buying process.
Catbird’s careful attention to each stage of the buyer’s journey resulted in 34 percent growth in new online customers and a 20 percent lift in overall conversion rates online year over year. Klaviyo’s email marketing tools helped Catbird meet their customers on their journey and become trusted advisors in the buying process.
The goal of humanizing digital experiences goes beyond sales
Customer retention is an area in which Catbird particularly shines. Based on retail trends from the past year and in response to store closures, the brand cleverly anticipated new customer behaviors and created a fresh take on shopping by creating hybrid experiences.
Since launching these virtual appointments, the brand has seen a steady demand for bookings and over a 26 percent conversion rate lift from engagement ring specific appointment holders.
For Catbird, humanizing their customer’s digital experience meant staying true to their brand’s mission and customer-first approach. This priority is clear in their email campaigns, where they have put the community first and the product second.
During an unprecedented year, Catbird successfully translated their high-touch in-store experiences into unique digital experiences that drove new customers, more sales, and higher lifetime value. As Justin shared, “That is the power of being thoughtful, empathetic, and human with your customers.”