Mobile Ad Blockers and What They Mean for Holiday Shopping

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

By now you’ve likely heard news about mobile ad and content blockers and how they can negatively impact mobile shopping experiences this holiday season. While ad blockers are nothing new to most devices and platforms, Apple’s recent release of iOS 9 means that users may now download and install ad blocking extensions on their iPhones. Given iPhone’s market share and horror stories of big-box retailers’ websites failing to render due to certain mobile ad blockers, the news is hard to ignore.

With mobile traffic and revenue at an all-time high, what impact does this news have on retailers and what should you do about it?

Certainly this is something that retailers should be aware of, but as you ramp up for the holiday season, we encourage you to not make this priority 1. We recommend continuing to focus on keystone acquisition and remarketing initiatives that provide the best short-term and long-term value to you and, most importantly, your shoppers. These initiatives will never fail you.

This isn’t to say that you should completely ignore the potential negative impact of ad blockers on your website's rendering and your shoppers’ experience, but let’s take a closer look at some specifics of why it shouldn’t be your top priority.

  1. Consider the numbers
    Relatively speaking, the percentage of users this could affect will be greatly overshadowed by the YoY increase in mobile-driven revenue. We sampled ten eCommerce retailers in various verticals and they average 350,000 unique monthly visitors. Of these 350,000 visitors an average of 2.7% use iOS 9, which is the first iOS to allow ad blockers. To be fair, iOS 9 was recently released, so adoption rates are still low at this point. However, if we look at the percentage of users who browse using iOS 8 (first released September 2014), this number averages just under 15%. And remember, only a fraction of those using each operating system will even install ad blockers.
  2. Moving targets
    Ad blockers all function differently and some update daily, especially as developers battle for the #1 spot in Apple’s App Store. As updates roll out and new versions are released, a website that may have had blocked elements yesterday may have no issues today. 
  3. We love content
    Shoppers who use poorly-built or oversensitive ad blockers are likely already aware of the negative browsing experience that they create. Chances are, this isn’t the first time they’ve experienced an issue with a website on their mobile device. We’re consumers of content and we’ll remove any barrier that stands between us and what we want, defective mobile ad blockers included.

If you’re a retailer who attracts a high level of mobile traffic, then it will benefit you to review your website traffic data to understand which platforms and operating systems your shoppers are using. Regardless of whether or not mobile ad blockers are a concern to you, you should always be render-testing on the most used devices to ensure a seamless user experience. If you do choose to include ad blockers in your render-testing process, we recommend installing the top one or two rated for the device. Be sure to reference community ratings before downloading and installing ad blockers. The higher the rating, the more likely your shoppers are to choose it.

We know how critical this time of year is to your brand’s success. Having a prioritized plan in place and following that plan will greatly benefit you and your brand’s loyalists.


The Trick to Creating Holiday Emails

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 157 million American adults will celebrate Halloween this year, and each will spend an average of $74 on costumes, candy, decorations and more. Treat your subscribers right to maximize your share of this $6.9 billion holiday.

To help you get started, we took a look at some of our retail clients’ top performing Halloween emails from 2014 to see what worked best:

Entice the Reader

Everyone loves a good mystery. The emails “Happy Hallow-Lean! Time For a MYSTERY Coupon. What Will Your Savings Be?” and “October Mystery Coupon: Unravel the Mystery! Save up to 30%!” converted at rates of 45% and 36.4%, respectively.

Make an Offer

Don’t be scared to keep it simple. Often a straightforward discount is all that is needed to get subscribers to take action. The sales offered in the emails “20% OFF All Halloween Cookies” and “10% Halloween Discount” prompted subscribers to convert at a 53.6% and 28.9% conversion rate, respectively.

Get into the Spirit with Words

Just like the most creative costumes get the most attention at the party, unusual words get attention in the inbox.  Last year the email “It’s Rocktoberfest with real rocks!” had an impressive 41.8% open rate, and even the slightly less unique, but fun “Spooktacular Savings This Week Only!” had a 19.9% open rate.

Offer up Ideas

Trying to come up with a to-die-for costume or party theme can be scary for many, so ideas are always welcome. For example, the email, “Can’t Miss Halloween Costume Ideas + 20% OFF” was opened by 29.9% of the subscribers who received it.

Help Subscribers Out of a Bind

For busy subscribers, it seems that Halloween just sneaks up on them, and BOO!, there’s little time left to plan. That’s why an email like “FREE Delivery Before Halloween Or Reduced Express Shipping + Extra 15% Off Costumes!” got opened by more than half (50.8%) of subscribers.

Do you have any tricks for effective Halloween emails? Please share them!  


Modal Acquisition Research Study: Performance of the Popup

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 Listrak 1 Comments

Internet Retailer recently released a sneak peek into the results of Listrak's latest research study in the post, "Pop-ups push consumers to give email addresses to retailers."

A few of the findings Associate Editor Matt Lindner shares include that the modal popup:

- Can help retailers nearly double email subscription rates
- Tends to be most effective around lunch time
- Works best when popped early in the site visit
- Must be fine-tuned by the marketer to optimize messaging, rules, placement and more


Too Early or Smart Strategy?

Friday, September 25, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Last year, the National Retail Federation reported that while the majority (40.9%) of Halloween celebrants begin shopping in the first two weeks of October, a small number (6.4%) of enthusiasts actually begin before September. So just how early have leading retailers begun promoting Halloween this year to get their part of the nearly $7 billion consumers are projected to spend?

As an Internet Retailer research partner, Listrak subscribes to the email lists of the merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 and Second 500 Guides, and a look at our inbox shows that top merchants in all the relevant categories – apparel, costumes, décor and candy – have already been peddling their treats for weeks:


On June 30, a full four months before Halloween, we received our first holiday email from LollyWolly Doodle. Although back-to-school garb was the focus of the email, the cute Halloween clothing – covered in ghosts, pumpkins and cobwebs – was not far behind (or below in this case). 


Just a little more than a week later, on July 8, Shindigz got in on the game with the message, “It’s never too early to choose your Halloween costume.”


On August 13, catalog company Touch of Class urged subscribers to order now for their best selection of Halloween décor.


And finally a few days later, on August 18, pulled out the treats with an email promoting Halloween-themed PEZ dispensers.

Let us know if Halloween was haunting your inbox even earlier. 


Using Personalized Product Recommendations at Every Touchpoint

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

56% of shoppers are expecting retailers to make holiday shopping more personalized and convenient, both online and in-store this holiday season. And more than half of the holiday shoppers expect retailers to base those personalizations on past purchases and online behavior.

Are you ready?

We recently hosted on webinar where two of our account managers, Cherrill Hartman and Ryan Ogurcak, along with our recommendations expert (or “recspert” as we like to call him) Bill Trovato, discussed the best way to personalize all of your customer interactions this holiday season. If you missed it, you can watch it on demand here.

Some of the holiday insights shared on the webinar include:
  • 83% of customers value being recognized with personal messages cross-channel
  • If a shopper is viewing full priced merchandise, don’t potentially lower your AOV by recommending items at a lower price point
  • Adding recommendations to your website can lift revenue by 23%
  • On the checkout page, add a free shipping threshold, and then recommend products that will help customers reach the minimum – shoppers will buy more in order to qualify for free shipping
  • Add recommendations to the order confirmation page – many shoppers make a second purchase within 24 hours of the first purchase with a lot of them occurring immediately after the first order is placed
  • Add recommendations to 404 error pages or no search results pages – you’ll minimize the dead-end experience and avoid bounces
  • A/B split tests are essential for optimizing on-site product recommendations
  • Personalization should extend across the customer journey - from awareness to reactivation. Show shoppers you know them
  • Leverage browse behavior to personalize welcome series emails. Also promote top sellers, trending products, new arrivals
  • Try phrases such as "we like your style," or "you've got great taste" in browse and abandon messages – this is much friendlier than “recently viewed”
  • Bring browsers back to buy by presenting viewed this/bought that or related, same category items


The New Look of Leadership Campaign is a Total Content Win for The Limited

Thursday, September 10, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

As a personal promoter of female leaders, I was intrigued to find a very unexpected, content driven email from The Limited in my inbox today.  The Limited is debuting a campaign called “The New Look of Leadership” showcasing 60 diverse female leaders in business, education, government, healthcare, technology and entertainment.  How cool?!?

As I scrolled through the looks of the women, I found that a lot of their styles or outfits would be something I would wear. The styles range from classic to edgy to sporty to comfy, but all with a professional look.  It was fascinating reading about these women and what not only their style means to them, but what they believe a leader is.

Capturing the definitions of leadership from these women combined with their personalities and faces creates worthwhile content, making it a total win. I must admit, The Limited hasn’t seen my business in a while, but they definitely just re-engaged a past purchaser to check them out again.  

Check out what the Huffington Post said about the new campaign.  #LeadingLooksLike


Give Your Welcome Series A Makeover: Optimize Conversions

Wednesday, September 02, 2015 Listrak 4 Comments

Because an eComm welcome series typically enjoys a spectacular conversion rate, you should remember that the key content objectives are to greet new subscribers and nurture them down the sales funnel into the wonderful world of customerdom.  

I want to pause here for a moment and make sure you notice the word "nurture"; a welcome message should be a form of your regular marketing emails -- similar in basic design and structure to ensure brand consistency -- that's designed specifically to educate new subscribers and nurture a relationship with those who don't yet know a lot about your brand. It's through this budding relationship that loyal customers are formed.  

To get the best bang for your welcome-series-buck, keep the following tips in mind:  
1.      "Why" works: Begin by doing some research into who the humans receiving your emails actually are (as opposed to who you think they are), what they want from you (as opposed to what you assume they want from you), and how you can deliver on their expectations. I'm talking about how you do things differently than your competitors and why your subscribers should care about that. Why should anyone shop with you over all the other choices?

2.      Lose the hard-sell: While incentives ($ or % off typically perform best) and compelling, specific calls-to-action are important, cramming a too-pushy sales pitch down your subscribers' throats is not always the best way to build trust -- especially with someone who's new to your brand. Instead, try something subtle, clever, and targeted towards the folks receiving your email (remembering again where they are in the funnel and how this affects the verbiage you select). 

3.     Perfect your CTAs: Because the subscriber is higher in the sales funnel at this point, you'll want to test out low-commitment calls-to-action versus the higher-commitment calls-to-action that are more traditional. CTAs like "shop now" and "click here" are trite at this point; get a little creative with your copy choices and try out lower-commitment CTAs to hook the subscriber into clicking-through to learn more. Throw your copy on some bulletproof buttons and you're good to go.  

4.      Play to their emotions: Forget about why you think your products or services are cool. Forget about the bells-and-whistles. Forget about the fact that your great-grandfather started the company with nothing but two nickels and a prayer. Those facts may be important to you, but you need to stop and think like a customer. Refocus on what your products or services do for someone -- how it will affect their lives for the better. Why should they care -- I mean really, truly care to the extent that they're ready to drop their dollars with you? Try the emotional sell, but again -- be subtle about it.

5.      Include personalized content: Even if you have little personal data about a new subscriber, including personalized content has been proven time after time to heavily boost conversions. This can take the form of product recommendations (based on the subscriber's browsing behavior as well as current best-sellers), blog posts that new subscribers would find useful, new customer start-up kits, relevant social posts (utilizing a service like Olapic), or whatever works best for your brand. 

6.      Don’t wimp out on your subject line: Someone just signed up for your emails, so they’re going to be inclined to interact. Still, your subject line and pre-header text should work together to make sure you get the open. As with all subject lines, keep it short and sweet – 40 characters or so should be your max, and front-load the valuable content to make sure it doesn’t get cut off. And this should go without saying, but make sure your subject line, pre-header and message content are all about the same thing; there’s nothing worse than a bait and switch.

Some examples of what I mean:

Example 1: lululemon

lululemon welcome email

What I like: I love this email. I really, truly do. It's so simple, no one over-thought it, yet it speaks perfectly to the lululemon customer. It makes you want to visit the site and interact with the brand without any kind of overt sales pitch. The navigation is brilliantly simple, it lets me know their blog is up my alley, and the social area is well-defined with clear value propositions and CTAs. Bravo, lululemon. Well done.
What I'd do differently: If I had to nitpick, I'd remove the unsubscribe and browser links from the header. They don't need real estate up there and can live in the footer. The "behind the seams" pun is cute, too, but needs to be hyphenated (sorry, I'm a grammar nerd, I had to say it). I also don't like that the pre-header uses sentence case when nothing else in the email does (including the subject line).

Example 2: One Kings Lane

What I like: The hero greets you and introduces you to what the brand is all about through succinct copy and nice imagery. The email manages to deliver a whole lot of (really good) information without it seeming heavy -- a feat they accomplished through typography, a defined content hierarchy and good visual definition in the layout. The creatively worded CTAs with each content piece make it clear what they want you to do.
What I'd do differently: Saying the word "welcome" in a welcome series is too obvious, but I'll stop there for now. More on that later. I'm not sure that the "hiring" link is needed in a welcome email, but perhaps that's more important to the company than I know. The social elements lack any sort of value proposition, so I have no idea what I get when I click them. Do I go to your Facebook page? Do I instantly "like" your Facebook page or share this email? What happens? Also, the "Shop All Sales" link in the header looks like a design afterthought.

Example 3: Sidecar

What I like: This email is super-simple and easy to skim and digest. It very clearly tells you what to expect from the brand and speaks to the subscriber in a casual voice that makes total sense given their demo.
What I'd do differently: Not only are there no calls-to-action, there are very (very) few links in this email. Finding a way to click-through to the website is actually really hard. Make sure to include CTAs (some bulletproof buttons in this email would be a great addition) and link your images to appropriate landing pages. The email also lacks basic usability and privacy recommendations: a browser link, an explanation of why you're getting the email, and contact information for the sender. I'd also add some kind of value proposition to the social area to indicate what happens when you click.

Example 4: Flatspot

What I like: The layout is well-organized, white-spacey, and gives you a quick snapshot of what you need to know as a new subscriber. It thanks you for joining, delivers your incentive (in a debatably too-subtle way), offers three helpful links (that are permanent so they won't have to change often), and includes relevant social content.
What I'd do differently: It lacks even a single call-to-action. Make sure you include simple, easy-to-follow CTAs that tell your subscribers what you want them to do. I would move the "free shipping" banner up above the Instagram block, as this is a huge perk and will likely drive conversions more than Instagram will.

P.S. Thanks to the team at Really Good Emails for their wealth of inspiration.

Listrak Professional Services’ Content Strategy Committee regularly studies and tests Listrak’s best practice content standards to empower the Listrak team to produce top-quality work for our clients. 

Keep in mind when reading these thoughts that anyone worth their salt in this industry will always tell you to test the living daylights out of your messages -- everything from subject lines and preheader text to CTAs (placement and copy) and body content. So although we stand strongly behind our best practice recommendations, at the end of the day, best practices are meant to be tested to determine the right content strategy for your brand.


Personal Product Recommendations Engage Lapsed Customers

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Every retailer’s email list looks something like this:

Retailers need to do everything they can to engage and re-engage subscribers with every email deployment. It’s no longer enough to send the same message to everyone. It’s true that broadcast messages still work to a degree, but the real power of email is how easy it is to make each email relevant and personal to every recipient. It has been proven over and over again that personalizing messages and segmenting your audience works better than batch and blast messages do.

Simple segmentation will give you a 10-20% lift in revenue from your new and active subscribers alone. More impressively, you’ll re-engage your lapsed and inactive subscribers and get a 2-7% revenue boost from these groups.

This blog post is different from others as it doesn’t offer up tips and best practices for keeping your already engaged audience clicking and buying from you. There is plenty of info available on that topic, like here, and here, and here. Instead, this blog post discusses the often ignored and overlooked segment of your list – the subscribers who opted-in six months, one year, five years ago who never unsubscribed but have rarely opened or clicked on a message and have never purchased. All is not lost with these subscribers. They care enough to remain on your list and you are able to recapture their attentions every once in a while but you just can’t break through to these customers.

Until now.

Personalized product recommendations will re-engage your lapsed and inactive subscribers. We tested it time and time again and the results are always the same – lapsed subscribers who receive emails with merchandise that is customized to their needs not only click (re-engage) but also make the vital first purchase.

In the chart below, you can see a list of subscribers who have been on the client’s list for several years in some cases. These subscribers received hundreds of emails, only opening a small fraction of them and clicking on even fewer. Most importantly, these subscribers have never purchased.

Using Listrak’s Personalization Engine, emails were sent on 11/19 that included the last two specific items each subscriber browsed along with the top selling items in the same category.

As you can see, this tactic worked. Subscribers who rarely opened or clicked on an email placed their first purchases after receiving this personalized message. 

We have proven this tactic over and over again. Want to see more? Contact us for more ideas and information.