Five Retail Marketing Strategies and Tactics for 2016

Monday, November 30, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

It’s an exciting time to be a retailer! With eCommerce retailers opening stores, stores becoming more digital and the Internet of Things moving from concept to reality, the path to purchase has drastically changed. Customers have more options but fewer choices – they no longer have to decide where or how to shop – they simply shop at their convenience.

2015 has been the year of personalization as the technology allowing deep segmentation and personal recommendations based on both purchase history and behavior can automate many of these communications. In fact, 54% of all consumers would consider no longer shopping with a retailer that didn’t provide personalized and relevant information. But what should retail marketers expect in 2016?

Content Personalization and User Generated Content

2016 will be the year of content marketing as retailers will find new ways to keep customers engaged and enhance their shopping experiences. 81% of all shoppers do online research before visiting a store and shoppers are looking for information at every stage of the journey – before, during and even after the purchase. More importantly, 80% of shoppers would prefer to get their product information from articles than ads.

Shoppers are looking for content that will help them make their purchase decisions, such as ratings and reviews. And they are looking for information to help them make the most of their purchases – such as product care tips. Retailers have to be creative in order to keep customers engaged. For example, if a customer buys a scarf, the retailer should send an email with a link to a video or blog post offering 15 interesting ways to wear the scarf. This type of personal content should be used in every communication.

Even better, retailers should make their customers the star by promoting user generated content, not only in the form of ratings and reviews but by using real customer photos in promotional pieces, by asking customers to provide feedback on products and using that in product descriptions and requesting customer information for use in product videos or tutorials.

Interactive Marketing

As retailers add more and more technology to their stores, bringing the phigital experience to life, they have even more ways to interact with customers and capture data. Magic Mirrors, clienteling, touchscreens, Occulus Rift and interactive displays in stores allow shoppers to interact with brands and products in fun new ways while enhancing the shopping experience by aiding in product discovery while reducing time and barriers to checkout.

Mobile enables a lot of these interactions. Beacons send push messages to customers while they’re in store, offering coupons or product information. Mobile shopping apps allow customers to check inventory or receive additional product details immediately. Social sites, like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, let customers interact with brands and other customers, sharing information, pictures and videos. This level of interaction leads to loyal customers and brand ambassadors.

Cross-Channel Marketing

Customers already expect a seamless shopping experience as they move from store to site to mobile device, but many retailers are still struggling to provide this. In 2016, the data silos will be removed once and for all as omnichannel data hubs, such as Listrak’s, make it easy for retailers to store and use the data from everyone channel in one central location.

In many cases, the shopper’s email address is the universal identifier as it is used online, in mobile shopping apps and in-store during the checkout process. It also makes it possible for retailers to identify customers across devices. For example, if a customer is logged into a retailer’s site on their laptop at work and adds items to her cart and then later, at home, she visits the site on her iPad and completes the purchase, the retailer now knows those two devices are the same account. To take it a step further, if the same customer opens the order confirmation email on her mobile device, all three devices can be tied to the same account. This makes it possible for retailers to serve up personalized content to that customer no matter where or how she shops.

Email Still Reigns

Email has been the top performing marketing channel for the past decade, returning $38 per $1 spent in 2015. And it will remain in the top spot for 2016 as long as retailers keep up with the trends.

As mentioned earlier, personalization is key. Even broadcast emails can and should be personalized based on past purchases and online behavior. Automation will play an even bigger role as triggered messages are used to nurture customers through the buying journey while extending their lifecycles. And the amount of customer data will lead to true 1:1 marketing through deep segmentation and targeting.

The Landscape of Stores will change

Department stores haven't changed much in the past 100 years. See for yourself. This was taken at the Joseph Horne Co. department store in Pittsburgh in early 1920:

Until now. Many retailers are now designing stores to fit into communities, using local materials, artists and craftsman to build stores that reflect the area they are in instead of creating cookie-cutter stores that are exactly the same in every location throughout the country.

And many stores include space for community activities, such as a yoga class, poetry slam, music studio or gym. Others simply design events to enhance the shopping experience, such as a whiskey tasting or an onsite expert who will teach customers how to iron a shirt or correctly fold clothes while packing a suitcase. Some retailers offer customers memberships to participate in the events while others are open to the public. These events drive traffic to the store and keep customers coming back.

Are you ready for the future? Mobile will become even more influential and social marketing will find its stride. Customers will shop and interact with retailers in fun and engaging new ways. User generated content will become something that both retailers and shoppers rely on. But the basics - great content and personalized email messages that are targeted to each customer - will remain at the center of your digital marketing strategy.


Retail Reality: Thoughts from Listrak's Shopping Trip in NYC

Monday, November 30, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

On Listrak’s recent Manhattan Retail Reality Roadtrip, our group visited many stores located in Chelsea, Soho and along 5th Avenue. Even as an avid online shopper, I still love shopping in-store. It provides a totally different experience than online does and allows me to interact better with both the products and the brand. Many of the stores we visited provided an exceptional in-store experience; one of the things that resonated the most was how engaged and attentive the store associates were. The group's primary goal was to check out the latest technology, see how it was being used in brick and mortar locations and how it tied the customer back to the online experience, if at all.

Some brands, like Rebecca Minkoff, really offered an in-store experience that you wanted to savor, quite literally with the drink assortments they offered, but the welcome and engaging nature of the store associates was just as notable. The well-talked about magic mirrors in the store only added to the interaction with the brand and the store associate. The two worked seamlessly together. And as a loyal Rebecca Minkoff customer, I would make the trip to their Soho Flagship store just to test out the new mirror technology in the fitting rooms. They were well lit, working properly, integrated well with the sales associates and overall easy to use. It made the experience fun and unique as a customer.


On a whim, our group decided to visit the Lands End Pop-Up store on 5th Avenue and were pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the sales associates were and how warm and cozy the store was. They even had a hot chocolate bar upstairs with the most amazing peppermint cookies. And while the store experience was one of my favorite of the 20+ stores we visited, all of their iPads weren’t working and the computer hidden in the back corner was also not working. The technology divide between online and in-store was pretty apparent, but did it ruin my experience at the store? Not really.

Sprinkles Cupcakes, who served me the best salted caramel cupcake I’ve ever tasted, allowed me to order a cupcake via their “Cupcake ATM,” but didn’t ask for my email or phone. Personally, after how amazing that cupcake was, I would love to continue the experience with them, but they have no way to contact me. That was a disappointment.

Other stores such as Samsung had a bar of phones set up where you could choose from designs and have it printed on a recyclable shopping bag. Pretty cool, right? But when I went to the phone to enter my info and pick my design, the girl behind the counter just told me to pick a design and she’ll make it – no need to use the phone. While, I appreciated the in-store interaction from the sales associate, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having the phones to showcase their technology?

After visiting Kate Spade, a store that had no technology present in-store for the customer to utilize, was all about the in-store customer experience. I worked with the Store Manager to pick out a pair of earrings and after requesting an e-receipt, my engagement with Kate Spade has risen quickly as they sent me an email asking me about my Kate Spade New York Shopping Experience as well as multiple promotional emails.
 And lastly, I thought Warby Parker was the most fun. Why? Well, because who doesn’t like trying on glasses? From a pure-play startup to a brick and mortar, Warby Parker has created an atmosphere in their Soho store that invites you to try on different styles and even has a photo booth so you can take home your memory of the store. 

I think one of the most poignant takeaways for me was that online and in-store shopping each have their own benefits, but creating an experience that is memorable is by far the best thing a brand can do. The stores that nailed that experience were the ones that ironically had a nice crossover of online and in-store technology so that the conversation could be continued after you left the store with or without a purchase in hand. When adding technology in-store, make sure it makes sense and make sure it connects the dots for the customer in a way that is unique and memorable, but also works.


Where Leading Fashion Retailers are Driving Traffic Black Friday

Friday, November 27, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Some early reports have indicated that while online shopping is soaring today, traffic at malls is a little lighter than retailers may like. I can attest that my husband - somewhat begrudgingly - got up early on his day off to drive our daughter to her retail job by 5:45 a.m. so she didn't have to fight the traffic and waste time looking for parking - only to find that traffic was light and the parking lot was only a quarter full.

Looking at today's inbox of emails from leading fashion retailers, it seems the light foot traffic may have been anticipated. It will be interesting to see if the efforts seen in these emails help to turn the day around for brick and mortar stores:

Granted, I had to scroll to the bottom of this Forever 21 email, but this is a pretty generous in-store only promotion -

What came earlier this morning from Forever 21, however, was a much stronger push - 

And while this J.Crew email does not promote an in-store only event, it's obvious they want to make it's very easy for me to find my nearest store -

Gap, too, is trying to drive traffic in-store, however, it's unfortunately again at the bottom of a long, scrolling email and  less obvious than the Forever 21 promotion - 

(It's worth noting that of course all of the other emails I have received from fashion omnichannel retailers have clearly communicated that Black Friday deals apply both on-line and in-store.) 

So what about pureplay retailers? Even online only merchants must know that the traditional website is not the only place their customer may want to shop today. Kudos to for this effort to capture shoppers wherever or however they may want to take part in Black Friday deals today: 

How are you driving shoppers to your brick and mortar stores today? 


Cross-Channel Holiday Promotions

Monday, November 23, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

It's that time of year again. Mailboxes are stuffed full of holiday catalogs and direct mail pieces. When I was a kid, I loved looking through the Christmas catalogs, circling all of the toys I wanted Santa to bring me. But now I rarely even open them before putting them in the trash. The good news is, I don't have to open them. Many retailers are offering customers additional opportunities to engage and shop right from the back of the catalogs.

Toms offers both a QR code and an incentive to shop online:

Bath and Body Works offers both online and in-store discount codes:

Athleta invites customers into their stores by offering fitness classes, free hemming and styling and BOPIS:

Cremieux invited customers in-store for a happy hour:

giggle advertised their website, stores and shopping apps:

And Chukar Cherries sent me an order form that included the names and addresses of the people I shipped gift baskets to last holiday season. Talk about convenient!

Customers don't shop in a single channel and it's up to the retailers to provide different shopping options and to make the transition seamless.

Speaking of options, I received these two emails recently and they really caught my attention.

Philosophy encourages customers to shop on TV during its QVC broadcast:

And giggle sent a Mobile Monday email offering a discount for customers shopping in its app:

As you can see, there isn't one right way to encourage customers to shop. All you  have to do is provide options and let your customers shop in the channel that is most convenient for them this holiday season.


Let’s Get Phigital: The State of In-Store Technology

Friday, November 20, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

1 City, 2 Days, 16 people, 32 Stores.

I spent the last two days living out every fashion and retail-lovers in New York City. I went on this shopping trip with 15 Listrak colleagues, including members of our executive team, account managers, developers and other marketing team members. Our goal was to try out the technology and in-store experiences many flagship stores are beginning to offer in order to gain first-hand knowledge.

The technology we saw included magic mirrors, holograms, virtual reality, iBeacons, touchscreens – and there was even robotic luggage storage in our hotel.

Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing more details of our trip and go more in-depth on the retailers we visited and the experiences we had, but I wanted to share some of our best and most exciting findings now.

Magic Mirrors

If you haven’t seen the awesomeness of a magic mirror yet, plan a trip to Polo Ralph Lauren on 5th Ave or the Rebecca Minkoff store in Soho immediately! This is truly the future of retail as they not only enhanced the shopping experience by making it both faster and easier for shoppers to find what they want and checkout but it ties in both mobile and email acquisition points as well. I wanted to note that the staff in both stores was exceptional. It seems that the mirrors give the employees the opportunity to really interact with the customers on a more personal level.


Another useful shopping tool available in many of the stores were touchscreens and iPads that let you explore merchandise, read product reviews and interact digitally. The best ones included a call-to-action to let the shopper sign up for text or email messages. New Balance had two different digital experiences. The first let shoppers customize their own sneakers:

And the second scanned the customer’s feet in order to help them find the best fitting sneakers while allowing customers to email themselves the results. 


Warby Parker has its famous photo booth in store, which provided a lot of fun for the shoppers as well as an acquisition point for the retailer. But that wasn’t the only camera we experienced. Sephora took a photo and then emailed directions on the best way to apply contouring makeup:

And Lego added a cool hologram to the screen when you held up a product in front of it. The hologram was animated and provided a lot fun for the shoppers, but it lacked an acquisition point or additional product information. It was strictly for fun and it really did enhance the shopping experience!

Mobile Integration

We made sure to download each retailer’s app before our shopping trip and the outcome was mixed as connectivity was an issue. One outstanding example was Urban Outfitters where we received a push notification as we were checking out their vinyl.

However, in many cases we tried scanning merchandise to learn more about the products just to be told the products weren’t in stock or we’d just be taken to the product page of the retailer’s site.

Key Takeaways

Retailers, don’t add technology just for the sake of technology. If it doesn’t enhance the shopping experience, don’t bother. Technology that takes away from a buyer’s experience is worthless. However, technology that helps customers connect with you in new ways while helping them explore new products and leading to a faster checkout is definitely worth the investment.

Also, the shopper journey is all about engaging customers in multiple channels and making the experience seamless as shoppers move from the store to your site to their email or mobile device. The channels should not only support each other - think using email to drive traffic to your stores or acquiring email subscribers and mobile numbers in store - but they should all work together to help the customer find and purchase merchandise no matter where they're shopping.

We'll cover this in more detail as the series continues, but let us know if you have any specific questions in the comment section.


Would You Date Your Welcome Series?

Monday, November 16, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

I had a revelation the other day while chatting with a wonderful client and was able to see this tried-and-true concept in a brand new way: a welcome series campaign is a lot like your first couple dates with someone new. You can begin to lay a strong foundation right there with a few smart moves or ruin it with a few often-made missteps. Hear me out.

When you go on a first date, think about how you’d act. Would you blurt everything out at once? Would you walk up, give a little polite hug, and whisper in their ear where you went to school, what your job is, how much money you make, what kind of car you drive, that you don’t really get along with your parents all that well, that your cat Dwight is your best friend, and that in the next year you want to be married with a baby (named either Caroline or Jack, after your grandparents)?

Not a chance. I mean you could, but please don’t. So why do we dump this kind of overwhelming word-vomit on a brand new subscriber? How is that any different?

Take it easy. Be cool. Let it out in a trickle, not a tidal wave.

Instead of bombarding someone with BUY BUY BUY! when they hardly know you, try thinking of what you’d write if you had to create an online dating profile for your business. What would you say to make someone interested in you? And at what point in the relationship would you like someone to see that side of you? Send a series of welcome messages that are carefully crafted to let this content slowly drip out and build up the relationship. Don’t say too many things at once.

And remember – when writing your messages, brevity is key. People don’t read (they skim) and you have about 3 seconds to grab and keep someone’s attention. Use your message’s real estate wisely to pique someone’s interest in you and bait them back to your site to build the relationship.

See for yourself – which email welcome message is most appealing to you? In this first example, the messaging is based around the subscriber – sort of like asking your date a lot of questions to get to know them:

In this second example, it's all about the retailer. While I typically love this brand's emails, they're coming on a little strong here:

The layout is nice and it's easy to scroll through, but it's a lot of information up front and it lacks any personalization for the subscriber. Welcome messages have some of the highest open rates, so use that to learn more about each customer instead of just talking about yourself.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.


3D Touch - Lowering the Barrier for Mobile Commerce

Friday, November 13, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

The following post comes from our technology partner, OvenBits. Our partnership allows our shared clients, like giggle (referenced below), to use behavioral and transactional data from the Oven Bits ecommerce app platform, Pivot, to improve user experience at a brand level. This provides highly relevant, personalized content in triggered and marketing email campaigns, on site recommendations and more.

By Dave Onkels, Platform Manager, Pivot Mobile Commerce

Apple’s iPhone 6s announcement of the 3D Touch feature spurred a flurry of version releases from leading apps like Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest embracing this new feature. What 3D Touch actually represents, is a larger trend in user interface design where functionality can be introduced without adding weight to the interface. It’s the beginning of features designed to reduce visual overhead that users are exposed to within mobile apps. The remarkable thing about 3D Touch is that it’s invisible, yet has the power to speed up interactions without adding complexity.

The primary methods of interacting with 3D Touch includes Peek, Pop and the Quick Action menu. Peek and Pop give users a choice to quickly preview content and engage when it makes the most sense. It adds an exploratory element for apps to serve interesting content previews before customers fully engage. Alternatively, the Quick Action menu allows users to long press an app icon to see and jump into up to four sections within the app. The feature removes a layer of interface and drops customers directly into their desired location within the app.

giggle, a New York based new-parent boutique retailer, partnered with our team earlier this year to create a shopping and registry application. Powered by our Pivot mobile commerce platform, this app leverages the brand’s strong online social community to inspire shoppers through shoppable content.

The latest App Store release of the giggle app introduced 3D Touch capabilities to mobile commerce. Shoppers use the Peek and Pop functionality to browse giggle’s social and brand generated photos and preview which products are used to create a certain “look” (outfit, playroom or baby room). From the Quick Action menu on the home screen, shoppers can quickly access sales items, view baby registries, or scan items directly into their registry. These 3D Touch enhancements get users closer to their desired content without excess friction or interface added to it.

As mobile commerce sales climb to an estimated $74 billion this year¹, a 32% increase from 2014, there is an urgent need for companies to invest in building remarkable customer experiences on mobile. Given the significant appetite for mobile shopping from consumers, brands have tremendous upside to produce shopping apps that reduce friction and increase mobile conversions. The 3D Touch feature, and those to come, provide opportunities for mobile commerce platforms to make mobile shopping the preferred digital channel for the shopper and more lucrative for brand owners.

¹Facebook IQ on Mobile Commerce: ‘The Thumb Is in Charge’


Holiday Insights: Six Must-Dos for Your Holiday Planning List

Wednesday, November 04, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy holiday season and overlook simple email strategies that are guaranteed to help you shine brighter in the inbox. Below are six simple, proven must-dos offered up by Listrak’s seasoned account managers:

Encourage refer-a-friend by sending an enticing offer
Everyone loves a great gift, and you want to acquire as many qualified new subscribers as possible this holiday season. Make the season merry for you and your subscribers by rewarding them for introducing friends and family members to your brand.

Create a holiday-themed email template
It’s a simple idea, but can get lost in the holiday season shuffle. Carry any festive seasonal theme you’re featuring on your website into your marketing emails, and if appropriate, your triggered emails, too.

Increase your send cadence
Our recent holiday research study shows that nearly three-quarters of retailers intend to increase their weekly sends in November and December, and many will be adding weekend sends and even sending more time per day, so you need to send more often, too, to keep your subscribers’ attention.

Use creative subject lines
While many consumers expect an increase in emails over the holiday season, our research shows, not surprisingly, that many also mostly simply delete or ignore them. To make your emails stand out in the inbox, it is crucial that you make subject lines engaging and content personalized and relevant.

Include all notable shipping dates and deadlines
Help busy shoppers to plan and create urgency to boost your conversions by making sure holiday emails remind subscribers of important shipping details.

Wish your customers a happy holiday
‘Tis the season to also show your subscribers you care and to show thanks for their loyalty. On key holidays send an email with your well-wishes and nothing more.


Holiday Insights: Drive Traffic In-Store

Tuesday, November 03, 2015 Listrak 0 Comments

Last year, holiday foot traffic decreased 8.3% according to the NRF. But there is no denying that in-store holiday shopping is still the clear revenue winner as over $500 billion in holiday revenue came from stores and $101.9 billion came from online and mobile devices in 2014.

Retailers have a huge opportunity in-store this year, and many are already getting creative by closing on Thanksgiving and even Black Friday. While that might seem counter-productive, the truth is that opening on Thanksgiving or at midnight on Black Friday last year added little revenue to the overall holiday numbers. While retailers experienced a bump on those days, the weekend revenue evened out as customers just shopped at different times but didn’t spend more.

To truly gain more foot traffic over the holidays, retailers have to get creative. It’s no secret that brands are constantly looking for unique ways to bring customers into the store. While new products, the latest fashion and technology are the traditional reasons to have shoppers engage in-store, some brands are thinking outside the box to interact with their customers. Experiences, like the ones PSFK refers to in its article “Brands Fulfilling Customer Needs with Out-Of-The-Box Incentives”, can be anything from a VIP cocktail party or runway show to exercise classes or poetry slams. These in-store events are helping to redefine the shopper experience and build brand loyalty.

Robert Graham, an American Eclectic lifestyle brand, hosts exclusive events for their VIP customers regularly at their locations across the country. Robert Graham already stands out as a retailer because each store has its own unique design and personality that fits within the community as well as their brand. No two stores are identical, but all their locations are creative and inviting, making them a perfect venue for entertaining. And each store engages shoppers by inviting them to fun events, such as whiskey tastings, cigar rolling or, my personal favorite, simply offering valet parking while they shop the latest line. For each event they send out an invitation; below is the one they sent to their customers near San Antonio inviting them to their new store.

Naomi Holland, Director of Marketing for Robert Graham shares, “Our all store take-over events are very successful as they allow one communication message to flow to the customer from social media to homepage to email blasts to in-store clientelling. For example, in October, Robert Graham launched breast cancer takeover events and November will be “movember” related takeover events. In December, all stores will host a takeover event on December 5th for holidays, in partnership with “Toys for Tots”. Each event takeover has a philanthropic angle and a consumer focused shopping experience which makes it a win-win for the consumer and Robert Graham.”

Whether a cocktail party is right for your brand or a yoga class is more appropriate, dare to be different. Find new ways to engage new customers and long-time customers without the pressure to purchase.

What do you think of this strategy? Let us know!