With Salesforce, we can innovate faster to achieve our goal of giving ARK Friends more value for their loyalty.”

Trond Setsaas | CRM Manager, ARK
1,250 employees


faster content creation


ARK helps book lovers find their next great read with Salesforce

The only thing better than finishing a good book is knowing what you’re going to read next. And with millions of titles to choose from, many readers rely on recommendations from friends, family, or bookshop staff to find something to keep them hooked.

In fact, despite being a solitary activity, the community of book lovers is thriving. For Norwegian bookseller, ARK, tapping into that community is an opportunity to build life-long relationships with avid readers in exchange for discounts, promotions, and of course, personalised product recommendations.

“Salesforce helps us put the customer at the heart of our business, and 360-degree visibility is key,” explained Trond Setsaas, CRM Manager at ARK. “In exchange for sharing data with us, our loyalty programme – ARK Friends – is a way of offering lifetime value to customers.”

Taking a smarter approach to marketing

With more than 150 bookshops, an online shop, and an ebook app, ARK is Norway’s favourite bookseller – and more than one million ARK Friends agree. In addition to books, it also sells toys, games, and homeware, and has annual revenues of more than €170 million.

ARK bookshops are known for their warm, friendly customer service, and the company is on a mission to optimise the customer experience and replicate that great, personalised service online.

To do that, it needs rich insights on customer behaviour and marketing campaigns based on affinity to guide customers towards more of the products they love.

“When our previous marketing solution reached end of life, we jumped on the opportunity to implement a smarter platform to take campaigns to the next level,” revealed Setsaas. “We chose Marketing Cloud because it’s versatile, integrates with our SAP solution for 360-degree visibility, and has native connectors for Google Analytics.”

ARK partnered with Pearl Group, who worked in conjunction with a Salesforce technical architect to implement the solution in just eight weeks. “No one believed we could get Salesforce up and running so quickly, but we were very dedicated to making the rollout a success,” said Setsaas.

The company leveraged Trailhead to get users up to speed on the new solution and to support ongoing learning as the implementation matures.

“Staff love using Salesforce. It has a user-friendly interface, makes data accessible to everyone, and it’s exciting to be working with a cutting-edge solution after years of working with our legacy system,” Setsaas added.

Building personalised, trigger-based journeys

Today, the marketing team segments leads and creates personalised journeys in Journey Builder. For example, when an author has a new book coming out, the team can target customers who have read their previous books with first-look access.

Communications are sent to the customer’s preferred channel – email or SMS – and a trigger-based journey unfolds based on how they interact with content. If no action is taken, a follow up announcement is sent when the book is released.

“Salesforce data means we can distinguish between customers who are looking for a bargain and those who want to buy a specific title. As well as shaping campaigns, it helps us interact in the best possible way with every customer,” commented Setsaas.

This personalised approach has seen engagement soar, and insights from Marketing Cloud are used to optimise emails to be more relevant, valuable, and for managed inbox optimisation.

Templates and dynamic content make it simple for the marketing team to adapt and enhance campaigns, and they can create content 80% faster than previously. All communications are in ARK branding for a consistent look and feel, from order acknowledgements to promotions, and the company newsletter.

Since implementing Marketing Cloud, ARK has seen a 20% increase in open rates, and the click-to-open rate is 30% higher.
When it comes to knowing what’s hot and what’s not, ARK monitors trends in real-time to identify bestselling authors and popular products. During the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of puzzles soared, and it responded by promoting more of these products to people whose online behaviour and past purchases showed an interest in games.

“Customers come to our shops for advice on what to read next. With Salesforce, we can make smarter recommendations for online shoppers based on their purchase history and Einstein Product Recommendations,” said Setsaas. “Ultimately, we want to combine the in-store and online experience and empower bookshop staff with a single view of the customer.”

With technology, recommendations are getting smarter and more accurate every day. A third-party solution is integrated with Salesforce to follow up with customers and capture feedback on how much they enjoyed a book. By learning what an individual enjoys reading, the algorithm can make more accurate recommendations in the future.

The company also rolled out Interaction Studio to personalise the customer experience at every touchpoint, and although it’s early in the implementation, the solution acts as a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to fuel smarter decision making.

“We plan to use Interaction Studio to build greater affinity with customers and position more relevant recommendations across the website depending on where they’re at in the buyer journey,” explained Setsaas.

As for that integration with Google Analytics 360, the bookseller will be able to automate capturing richer insights on their browsing behaviour to further personalise the customer experience.

Building lasting relationships with loyalty customers

With Salesforce, ARK has a scalable, seamless marketing solution that’s helping it to blaze a trail in online bookselling. In fact, the implementation has been so successful that it’s spearheading a wider transformation across the company’s parent group, Gyldendal.

“I’m proud of how smooth our implementation was. We had big ambitions and people didn’t believe we could transform operations in such a short time,” said Setsaas. “With Salesforce, we can innovate faster to achieve our goal of giving ARK Friends more value for their loyalty.”

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