Maas Nursery has been in the Maas family since 1951, when Cristina Batz’s grandparents first founded the business. The nursery is located in the Houston area, but is well outside of the city. So, while Maas Nursery is recognized as one of the top residential landscaping services in the region, Cristina admits that even beauty needs a little bit of marketing.
“We don’t get a lot of drive-by traffic, so we had to make an environment that’s worth visiting,” Cristina explains. “People will drive two hours to see our garden.”
The nursery sports a beautiful, 15-acre landscape of rare flowers studded with fountains and antiques, making a visit to the store a unique and memorable experience. For the past few years, Cristina has worked hard to further improve that experience by marketing things online. She says that going digital has helped Maas Nursery power through tough times. Last year, sales grew by 30% and have remained strong ever since.
The key, Cristina believes, is to make the nursery not just a business, but a gathering spot, a community, and a resource for veteran landscapers and amateur gardeners alike, whether they’re at the store or at home.
A Flowering Online Strategy
It all started with an email newsletter. “When I first got pregnant, I kept telling my parents that they really needed a newsletter. So, I researched the options,” Cristina says. She chose Constant Contact’s email marketing tool and uploaded the nursery’s 200 contacts, sending out the first issue in July 2009. From there, she started asking customers if they wanted to be included on the list.
“If you want to grow your newsletter, you have to always remember to ask customers in the store if they want to be emailed,” she says. The simple strategy seems to have worked — Maas Nursery’s mailing list has grown to nearly 2,500 subscribers.
The popularity may be because the monthly newsletter contains much more than just colorful coupons. In addition to pictures of some of the nursery’s latest blossoms, each issue features in-depth articles about organic gardening, seasonal news, watering and landscaping, and even the occasional Q&A section. Cristina says the nursery also sends out emails whenever there’s a severe ice storm or hurricane that could damage plants, with advice on how to protect them.
The overarching goal is to give subscribers not just one, but many reasons to open each issue. Nearly 50% of subscribers do so each month, a rate that speaks volumes about the nursery’s dedicated customers and the value that each mailing offers.
Turning Facebook into a Bouquet for Fans
Of course, having an active Facebook presence doesn’t hurt, either. Over the past year, Maas Nursery has worked hard to show off the unique experience customers have when they come to the store – and offer Facebook fans plenty of pictures to gawk at, too.
High-definition photos of flowers, events, and landscapes are all regular features on the Facebook Page. There are even some behind-the-scene peeks at the store’s operations to further connect customers directly with Cristina and her family.
The best kinds of Facebook posts, however, are “Mystery Mondays.” Questions like “I’m in the mint family, native to Asia, and people sometimes use me as insect repellent! What am I?” often get over 20 comments. Sometimes, the nursery posts a picture of a leaf and asks fans to guess the plant it came from.
To combine email marketing and social media, Maas Nursery offers to feature fan gardens or landscapes in the email newsletter. This makes people more likely to sign up for the newsletter in general – especially if they may be the ones featured in it!
Maas Nursery has succeeded in complementing the store’s newsletter with Facebook by making the two channels interact.
The results speak for themselves – the Maas Nursery’s Facebook Page has 860 Likes and, nowadays, has more than 3,000 email addresses on the store’s contact list.