Case Study: CWC Online Email Newsletter

By Charlie Stewart, March 10, 2011 10:51 am

"We hoped 2Stroke’s email campaign would double sales through our online store. We underestimated them. Their strategy gave us a 400% sales growth in the midst of a global economic meltdown." – Chris Willemse Jnr

The Willemses, Chris and Chris Junior, are one of South Africa’s most celebrated cycling dynasties. Chris Senior is the only South African to ever win the Schoolboy, Junior and Senior championships, while his son Chris Junior is a regular gold medalist at national, provincial and local cycling events.

Together they run the family owned cycle store Chris Willemse Cycles (CWC) which specialises in high performance cycles and branded accessories. Originally founded by Chris Senior in the late 1970s, the Cape Town-based store grew steadily albeit with the geographical constraint of selling to a local client base. At the turn of the century it launched an e-commerce website which enabled it to expand its reach and sell cycles and parts to clients throughout the country.

CWC appointed 2Stroke Interactive to implement a digital marketing program designed raise the online store’s profile and drive internet sales while positioning the company as a consumer champion dedicated to selling top brands at affordable prices.


2Stroke’s strategy was to help grow CWC into Africa`s leading online cycle store measured by increased sales and enhanced brand visibility.

The market for performance cycles and branded accessories is limited, however as people who invest in high performance bikes are likely to upgrade cycles or add components, there is a strong imperative to maintain customer contact. With many customers belonging to clubs and participating in group cycling activities, a positive impression could lead to word-of-mouth referrals (forwarding of marketing messages).

One of the initial challenges identified during the planning stage was to find a means of regularly distributing personalized information in a way which enhanced the brand profile and drove sales without frustrating customers or over exposing them to repetitive messages.


The 2Stroke strategy was to send personalized emails mails which were topical or humorous and contained a strong sales message featuring special offers with click through links to the online shop.

Email newsletters are distributed on Tuesday between 10am and 12pm as 2Stroke’s research indicates people have filtered their overnight junk mail and are more likely to read at that time of the day. Sending on Tuesdays ensures that an item can be ordered and delivered by the weekend.

Given the frequency of mailings, cost and time constraints prevent frequent changes to the email structure. 2 Stroke designed a fresh and vibrant HTML template which allows for content changes but it eye-catching, accessible and sufficiently predictable for readers to know where to look for offers.

Research showed that most customers who received emails were in their late 20s to mid 40s and live life to the full. We determined that a slightly irreverent tone would catch attention and retain customers’ interest the mails.

2Stroke handled all copywriting for the mails and actively sought topical or controversial themes which would encourage recipients to open messages and discuss the campaign on cycling blog spots.


The headline result was a 400% year-on-year increase in sales.

On average 35 000 mails are dispatched weekly, 15% of which are opened – a great result for a direct marketing campaign.

The themed content also led to extended commenting on social networking sites with readers praising CWC for its creativity and willingness to put the customer first.

Written by Charlie Stewart
Share this
Charlie Stewart