Retailer Email Tricks and Treats

Thursday, October 30, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

Recently Listrak’s Ross Kramer took a look at the Halloween emails leading retailers are sending for Multichannel Merchant
Halloween is one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays with Halloween spending this year expected to reach a record $7.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. We’ve been keeping tabs on our inbox to see the tricks and treats leading retailers have been using to get in on the action and have seen some interesting trends:

Getting Off to an Early Start

When the competition is tough, being first is one way to get attention, and it seems that quite a few retailers attempted this strategy. On August 4, nearly three months in advance of the holiday, Carter’s sent an email with the subject line “Boo! – picks for Halloween”. On August 29, another children’s clothing brand, Gymboree, announced they were kicking off the Halloween season with a generous promotion with the subject line, “Hello Halloween! 40% off spooky-good styles”.
Several others like Urban Outfitters, Petco, PetSmart and Williams-Sonoma also promoted Halloween in September, and in the middle of the month, Crate & Barrel sent this email along with the spooky subject line, “It’s creeping up…”:


Getting in on the Action

It was projected that consumers are planning to spend a record amount this season, and this past week, we’ve seen several retailers whose products do not typically lend themselves to Halloween using creativity to try to get a share of it.
Barnes & Noble focused on urgency – rather than Halloween – in the subject line of this email (“Hurry! Your Extra 15% Savings Coupon Ends Tomorrow”), but then subtly capitalized on the holiday in the email graphics. This is particularly peculiar because the sale itself is not Halloween-related:
Several other unlikely retailers strategically positioned their products to fit a Halloween theme:


Sunglass Warehouse even went as far as to put together a costume guide to help shoppers with the always difficult decision of what to wear:

Creating Urgency

As we enter the holiday shopping season and inboxes become even fuller than usual, smart retailers begin using urgency in subject lines to get subscribers’ attention, and often tempting promotions to begin getting latent customers engaged and purchasing again.
We suspect that this might be at least part of the strategy for retailers like Shutterfly, who used the subject line, “This’ll give you chills: 50% off all photo books + 30% off all the rest” and then Hot Topic, who used the urgent “Boo! Just hours left to get 30% off” after having more gently kicked off the sale a few days earlier with “Hey, pumpkin – get 30% off”.
Party City has employed this strategy in the past several days with urgent subject lines like, “25% Off + Get It Before Halloween!” and “25% off – Last Weekend to Shop Before Halloween!” Most recently, the retailer upped the urgency with the headline, “Save 25% – Halloween is in 2 Days!” and an email that introduced strategies that most retailers traditionally save for the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve: Focusing on Shipping

The news is full of stories about how both retailers and carriers are ramping up to make sure they can fulfill holiday shipping promises this season. We’ve recently seen several retailers already using just-in-time shipping promises to prompt shoppers to purchase Halloween items.
As late as October 28, Costumes4Less was using the subject line, “Halloween Delivery Guaranteed” and several days earlier, Disney Store promised, “Shop, SAVE & Ship in time for Halloween!” For several days in the past week, Spencer’s Online has touted $9.99 2 Day Shipping, and on October 28 made the commitment “Halloween is 3 Days Away But You Can Get It In 2!”
Recently, Harry & David went about it a little more gently with the subject line, “Hurry, you can still share sweet thrills this Halloween and enjoy free shipping” and this email:
 And Williams-Sonoma skipped the Halloween mention and shipping promise altogether in the subject line of this October 29 email:williams-sonoma
 Ross Kramer is  CEO of  Listrak


Customer Acquisition and Retention Strategies in Fashion

Thursday, October 30, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

The following blog post from Listrak’s Ross Kramer was published by iMedia Connection on October 30, 2014: 
I recently had the opportunity to moderate a panel of leading fashion retailers at Fashion Digital New York that focused on the ever-challenging topic of customer acquisition and retention. Prior to our discussion, the morning’s keynote speaker had left attendees with the edict that it’s their collective job to create fantastic experiences online to increase purchase intent in retail. It was a perfect lead-in to our session, because it’s those experiences that set the table for customer acquisition and that position retailers’ brands for better retention over time.
But while that may sound simple, it’s easier said than done. At Listrak, we’ve compiled data from nearly a thousand retailers over several years that shows that a mere 15-20% of customers buy from a retailer’s website more than once. The vast amount of choices online has resulted in reduced customer retention and loyalty, making it a larger hurdle than ever for retailers to turn first-time buyers into two-time buyers, the crucial step that doubles the likelihood that they will purchase again.
In our discussion, our panelists shared the latest acquisition and retention strategies they’re implementing:


Retailers need to amplify the experiences of Brand Influencers to tell their stories online. For example, one retailer has been using “ambassadors’” stories from social media to create content that is resulting in higher retention. The retailer is curating content from social sources such as Instagram, YouTube and Vine, and using it to create stories that are then shared onsite, in social media and in email.
The key to this strategy, it was noted, is finding the right influencers in different channels.

Facebook Custom Audiences

This approach to reaching customers and finding more shoppers like your best customers is proving to be effective both for acquisition and product discovery. It is also a way to optimize the value of your email subscriber list.
Retailers can upload a list of their best email subscribers to Facebook and then target them with similar email and Facebook messaging. In addition, retailers can provide Facebook with segmented lists of subscribers to create look-alike models to reach Facebook users in niche audiences - i.e. plus size women who purchase colored jeans - so retailers can present more products to more prospective customers.

Search Marketing

To stretch their search budgets, what is still working for brands and retailers is using non-branded, longtail keywords. The key is identifying very specific, descriptive words that consumers may use to search for products and then building out related optimized landing pages.

Brick and Mortar for Email Acquisition

For retailers with brick and mortar presence, stores can be one of their largest sources of acquisition for the email channel. The key to maximizing this strategy is to properly train store staff to consistently ask for email addresses at checkout. It is also important to provide a reason for shoppers to share their addresses, for example to receive e-receipts, and to communicate expectations such as receiving weekly offers and new product announcements.

Shoppable Instagram

Two of the retailers on the panel are currently experimenting with the relatively new Like2Buy service from Curalate, which makes Instragram shoppable.
Described as the “missing link” between traffic and revenue, Like2Buy technology allows fans to click the link at the top of a brand’s Instagram profile page to see a grid of all the items on sale from the retailer’s feed. Clicking again takes the user to the retailer’s secure mobile site. In addition, the technology can be used as a curation tool for shoppers, who can create personal wish lists or save items to buy later by liking product photos.

Dynamic Retargeting

The key to successfully using retargeting to prompt a first-time buyer to make a second purchase is to present dynamic retargeting featuring the products that the customer is most likely to buy next. For example, if she just bought a phone, use retargeting to present her with a case or charger, or if he just purchased a suit, present him with dress shirts or ties.
The retailers on the panel agreed that CRM is the next wave of retargeting they expect to see.

Email Marketing

Email is still a highly effective way to stay in front of customers with the right message at the right time in the customer lifecycle to keep them engaged and purchasing. Upon earning the first sale from a subscriber, a retailer can continue to engage her with order and shipping confirmations, thank you emails and marketing emails featuring products based on the first purchase, all of which are effective at prompting future conversions.
The key to optimizing email marketing is to know where different subscribers fall in the lifecycle, including the recency, frequency and AOV of their purchases, as well as personal preferences and detailed purchase information, and to use the data to communicate relevantly and effectively. For example, active buyers can be prompted to continue to purchase with a loyalty campaign, and those who may become latent can be reached with messages and promotions, if necessary, to win them back, all personalized based on available data.


Client AddThis Shares Deliverability Success Story

Wednesday, October 01, 2014 Listrak 0 Comments

The following blog post originally appeared on September 29 and comes to us from Listrak client AddThis. Stay tuned for more! 

How We Increased Our Email Deliverability from 50% to 99%

Email is an essential part of how we, at AddThis, communicate value to our community. One of the most difficult challenges we were facing was that over half of our emails were not being delivered to our subscribers. Among many things we did, one of the most important steps we took was cleaning our list—a practice you should consider doing regularly.

Cleaning Our List is a Must

I knew list hygiene was important, but I didn’t know how important. In one sense, repeatedly sending emails to invalid addresses or (even worse) spamtraps can hurt your IP’s reputation, which can lead to a worsened reputation and deliverability lowering. In the end, your emails may not be reaching as many inboxes as you wish.
Deliverability is a big game, especially as your email list grows. The bigger your list gets, the more you have to pay attention to these details to keep your deliverability high. Not all the emails you send will necessarily arrive in the individual’s inbox.
Over a year ago, we had an approximate 50% deliverability rate—yep, that means about half of our emails weren’t making it to the inbox. And that sucked. What’s worse is if you’re using a third party (which most people do), you’re paying for the emails sent—not the ones being delivered. I’ll let you do the math on that one.
So I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your list nice and tidy. To start, we hired an independent company to clean up our list, ridding it of any obvious invalid addresses and hard bounces, without having to experiment under our own IP.
We also knew that doing this every so often would be a nightmare, and not cost-effective, so it was important to have an email service provider that has the ability to keep lists clean as a basic feature for all customers. This means it automatically unsubscribes hard bounces, soft bounces (after a set amount of time), and those who manually unsubscribe from the list.
We’re not in the perfect state yet; we’re still learning how to best maximize our campaign sends and messaging. But as we learn interesting nuggets, we’ll be sharing them with you to help you in your own campaigns.
Are there any other tips you’ve learned in your own email campaigns?