How to Prove the Incrementality of Your Programmatic Program

Thursday, December 01, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

It’s been more than a century since merchant and advertising pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t which half,” and when it comes to digital marketing attribution, the situation has sadly not improved. Marketers have long known that cost per click reporting and last click attribution models are broken, but with no alternative, they continue to be used to measure the effectiveness of programmatic - automated display advertising targeted to specific audiences based on artificial intelligence and real-time bidding.

The good news is that by following the advice of the Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving,” that model can be disrupted and replaced by a true, transparent view into the incremental revenue increases driven by programmatic ads.

Before we explore the test that allows us to do that, let’s take an honest look at the problems inherent in the current cost per click reporting and last click attribution models, specifically for a merchant spending on both programmatic and email marketing:

  • If you’re using different vendors for each channel, with both using a 30-day attribution window, they are often both taking credit for the same conversions, inflating the true return on your investment.
  • Thanks to the prevalence of click bots and fat finger clicks, a great number of reported clicks are not meaningful, but are driving up ad spend and setting false expectations for programmatic ad performance. 
  • Marketers have gotten so accustomed to justifying ad spend based on falsely inflated click counts that moving to a more transparent model showing true incrementality could reflect poorly upon them in the short-term even though it is the wisest thing to do in the long-term. 
  • Not all clicks are created equal. It is important to understand that when a shopper clicks through an email, she is an engaged subscriber showing intent to explore a product even if she gets interrupted before converting. When she later visits, for example, her true intent is to find out the temperature, however, she may be interrupted by an ad that reminds her to go back to your website and complete her purchase. But would she have anyway? 

To-date we have not had a model that reflects real-world consumer behavior and scientifically proves incrementality in a single channel. The only truly accurate way to quantify the incremental revenue lift provided by programmatic is to conduct a PSA (Public Service Ad) test.

In a PSA test, a number of recent site visitors - the test group - are targeted with a merchant’s branded ad, and an equal number - the control group - with a PSA, for example, from the Red Cross, that has nothing to do with the merchants’ brand. By doing this and comparing the number of conversions from each group for each type of campaign, it becomes immediately apparent how many of your retargeted visitors would have returned to your site and purchased even without seeing your branded display ad.

Example results may look like this:

From this example, we can conclude that of the 60 conversions vendors and marketers would typically attribute to programmatic efforts, half would have occurred anyway.

So why is this so important?

It is critical that marketers understand what digital marketing efforts are truly driving incremental revenue. The model above reflects the real world incremental lift attributable to programmatic. But what’s more, this type of testing is instrumental in optimizing programmatic efforts.

This particular test indicates that post purchase messages are the most effective, but that programmatic is seemingly ineffective in converting higher funnel prospects. Armed with this information, a retailer can do further tweaking and testing to maximize programmatic spend.

Looking for more information on display ads? Read our blog "Cross-Device Personalization Tactics for Display Ads" or contact us for more information.

Keith Brown
New Product Development

Matt Vollmer
Product Manager


Cross-Device Personalization Tactics for Display Ads

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Programmatic marketing delivers on the promise of engaging site visitors on an individual level after they browse your site. This greatly expands your marketing reach as the messages don’t depend on email addresses or mobile numbers. With organizations having email addresses for 30% of their site visitors and list attrition rates remaining as high as 25-30% annually, on average, relying solely on your email or mobile channel to reach shoppers leaves a big audience you can’t reach via email.

The display ads are served on sites like and (and thousands of others) that shoppers routinely visit during their online sessions.


Programmatic marketing lets you reach site visitors – regardless of their email status - with dynamic display ads personalized to their site activity. This communication delivers efficient and relevant personal ads, reinforcing brand elements and aiding in purchase decisions to drive incremental revenue and ROAS.

It’s All about the Data
Every email marketer knows that relevant campaigns rely on the ability to segment their audience based on different data points. It’s the same for digital display ads. And while some of the data points are the same for both channels, there are a few differences as well.

Display ads let you use a combination of first, second and third party data:
  • First-party data: The most reliable and relevant data as it is based on someone’s interactions with your site and other marketing initiatives, including email, CRM data, preference center and behaviors. 
  • Second-party data: First-party data from an external source, such as a publisher. 
  • Third-party data: Aggregated through various external platforms or sites and compiled from many different anonymous sources through a data management platform (DMP). 

So what can you do with all of that data? Here are a few of the popular ad-targeting methods in the display ad environment:
  • Demographic: Allows you to serve ads to a specific audience segment based on gender, age, income or other specific demographics. 
  • Behavioral: Demographic focuses on what the audience looks like while behavioral targets the actions a person takes online, such as page visits, products viewed and conversions. 
  • Geotargeting: Similar to demographic but the audience is customized based on identify and behavioral profiles layered onto a specific geographic area, including ZIP code. It often also enables targeting by IP address. 
  • Contextual: Similar to the traditional ad buying method of showing ads based on editorial relevance, contextual targeting serves ads based on category or keywords someone searches across the web. 
  • Programmatic Retargeting: Highly relevant and effective as ads are automatically served to individuals who have already visited your site through behavioral cookie data. 
  • Cross-Device: The ability to serve Programmatic Retargeting ads to consumers across multiple digital devices. 
As you can see, the more targeted you can get, the more relevant your ads will be. The ability to reach consumers on an individual basis across all the devices they use takes your campaigns to the next level. 

The Importance of Cross-Device Data 
The importance of collecting data across multiple devices cannot be overstated. It is estimated that over 50% of all online transactions start on one device but are completed on another. And there is no denying the impact of mobile shopping; however, while more and more shoppers turn to their mobile devices to research products, mobile sales still only account for 30% of all digital sales. Organizations can’t view their audience data in silos or the view will be fragmented and incomplete.

Cookies are unable to track activity across devices as they recognize consumers as unique users per device/browser. But cross-device identification can be achieved through deterministic or probabilistic methods. Deterministic solutions recognize users through encoded email addresses or user IDs whereas probabilistic solutions use additional variables such as browser settings, location and other data sets to create statistical connections between a user and the device.

While this sounds (and is) complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Email can be used to tie users to devices – as consumers click-through messages to browse the site, organizations can capture that data and apply every interaction across every device to that single shopper’s account.

What this Means for Programmatic Ads
Cross-device identification provides a unified, holistic view of each individual consumer. Marketers that can harness data from every device have a clear advantage as they get to know and understand shoppers on a deeper level and in a truer fashion. This helps them build loyal and honest relationships.

Imagine a shopper who needs a new TV. She starts by researching brands on her tablet and visits two websites of retailers to look up prices, delivery, installation and other details. While on those sites, she signs up to receive emails from those retailers.

The next day, one of the retailers sends her a browse abandonment email, which she opens on her work computer. She clicks through and browses the site and adds one of the TVs to her cart but still doesn’t purchase as she is still considering the purchase.

A few days later, she opens the cart abandonment email from that retailer on her phone and she clicks through and looks at different TVs. She’s still trying to decide which TV to buy.

Later, she returns to the site on her laptop but doesn’t purchase. She leaves the site to do more research but, while browsing other websites, she sees ads for the TVs she browsed on her laptop, phone, tablet and work computer. The retailer knows her and is assisting her in making a decision by presenting the most relevant information to her.

The other retailer, in the meantime, sends her daily emails announcing sales on video game consoles, smartwatches and cameras. It’s the same email they send to everyone on their list.

The first retailer clearly is offering a better shopping experience. It has done more to engage the shopper and provide assistance, and it is more likely to get the sale.

Putting it All Together
Programmatic advertising enhances your other marketing channels as it allows organizations to stay in front of shoppers regardless of their status on the brand’s email or mobile list. Whether or not the site visitor has subscribed to email, display ads can be served. If they currently receive emails or if they had previously unsubscribed, bounced or became inactive, ads can be served after a site visit. Programmatic ads greatly expand marketing reach while providing incremental revenue to your bottom line.

Ready to learn more? Let us know.

Megan Ouellet
Director, Content Marketing


A Data-Driven Culture and Insights-Driven Marketing

Monday, November 28, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Understanding a few key cross-functional relationships can greatly impact your retail Acquisition, Conversion and Retention efforts. Valuable strategies and tactics come to light when information is shared among your key commerce-driven teams that should include, but not be limited to, Marketing, Merchandising, Buying, Planning, Operations and Design.

Your business is fueled by a number of factors, but let us focus on three:  Marketing, Product and Customers. While these core elements combine to ultimately drive sales, there are typically owned by separate teams with specific areas of focus, and frequently there are relationships that are not known, shared or capitalized on.

Traditionally, Merchandising, Buying, Planning and Design are focused on sales and margin and continually managing a brand’s product offering. Operations-oriented teams execute the setup and/or allocation of merchandise within stores and online. The Marketing team builds relationships with customers across various channels, environments and devices. CRM teams tend to focus on trends centered around various customer profiles, such as first-time buyers, repeat buyers, brand advocates and loyalists, social activity and conversion behavior, just to name a few.  

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how the relationships between these core teams can open up valuable new insights to help you grow your business.

Acquiring customers with increased lifetime value
Understanding the lifetime spend and projected lifetime spend of customers who are acquired and active across various social channels can help you better manage your budget allocation and presence within those environments. You may find new demographics and customer segments that are interested in your brand, but you have never thought of in the past. For example, by expanding your presence into Instagram, you may find you can begin engaging with a younger demographic and acquire customers who may ultimately have a higher lifetime value.  

Bringing new customers to your brand
Knowing the number of first-time buyers, along with sales and margin, changes the value of a product or category. We certainly think of Marketing efforts as an acquisition tactic, but many times the product or category itself is an acquisition driver because of its inherent attributes.
Your number one volume-driving item pays the bills now, but do you know if your mid-ranked volume-driving items have an above average rate of new customers purchasing them? If so, those products certainly have a different value, as they are driving sales and your customer base. The next question is how to exploit this in the appropriate manner online, in stores and across your marketing assets.  

For example, what if the introduction of a floral patterned dress into your typically solid and striped oriented assortment just meets your sales expectations but has a new customer purchase rate two times the average in the dress category? Now, you know floral patterned dresses not only have value in driving sales, but also of bringing new customers to your brand.

Protecting margins
Of your most active purchasers, do you know which tend to buy at full price and those that only shop when you offer an incentive? Of those who need an incentive, looking at groups of customers by certain AOV ranges can allow you to speak to them with different offers to maximize sales and preserve margin, rather than offering blanket promotions.

Optimizing channels
Do you know the last marketing tactic that triggered an individual to purchase? Do you know where she   is most active? You can establish a better customer relationship and streamline your marketing efforts if you know an individual’s preferred method of communication, whether it be SMS or email. Start where a customer is most active. If she comes to you via Facebook a majority of the time, why send her an email first?

By merging the attributes of Marketing, Product and Customers you can inspire better dialogue and collaboration across your cross functional teams. Enhanced strategy can be formulated with data, and trends can be capitalized on faster. In the end, a better customer experience will be realized. 


What's the deal with preheaders?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

"Preview text", "preheader (or pre-header) copy", "second subject line" – whatever you want to call it, it's an incredibly important (and underutilized) component of marketing emails.

To help you give your open rates a boost, I’m going to tell you what these mysterious creatures are, why you should care about them, and how to write them correctly.

What’s a preheader?

It’s the sentence (or two) that shows up right after your subject line in your customers’ inboxes to add a little more context and detail. It’s usually grayed out or a bit smaller to differentiate it.

Why is this thing important?

  1. It’s a continuation of your subject line that offers you more characters to say your piece.
  2. It’s prime real estate to grab your customers’ attention and convince them to open (and not to delete!).
  3. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing. Granted I’m pickier because I’m in the industry, but I have much more respect for brands who craft their emails well.

How does it work?

Email clients pull the first line of text from your message and display this as the preheader, so you'll either need to make sure it’s at the very top of your message or use a platform like ours that lets you write it directly in the email builder. 

If you’re using another ESP or hand-coding your emails, make sure your code includes the preheader text at the top. Otherwise, the message will pull the first line of copy straight from your message content, which oftentimes just looks messy in the inbox (like these).

Design note: you can hide your preheader so it doesn’t actually display in the message itself. I definitely recommend this to free up real estate at the top of the message body.

Best Practice Tips

Best practice #1: Size does matter
Start by checking your email analytics to see which devices/clients your customers are using most, then make sure your preheader works for the least common denominator.

I say this because the number of characters that display varies widely between devices, apps, and email clients. Our friends at Litmus put together this handy-dandy chart so you can see what I mean:

You’ve got between 35 and 140 characters to use. Crazy, right? Welcome to my world. It’s a fun place.

Best practice #2: Get to the point!
There are some who will tell you to use a very large number of characters (like 100-150 every time). I fundamentally disagree with them, and here’s why:
  1. People simply aren’t going to read that much.
  2. You’re just giving away the farm for free. Whatever displays in the inbox is supposed to be bait for the good stuff, which is supposed to be inside the message.
Between your subject line and your preheader combined, I recommend sticking to 70-90 characters total. That’s a lot, and if you edit properly, you can make it work every time. You want your customers to be intrigued by what they see in their inbox, open your email, read it for a few seconds, and click through to your site. You don’t want them to get all the info from the subject line and preheader and say “meh, there’s nothing more I need to know” and delete it.

Think of it like this: you purposefully include white space in your designs, right? You'd never jam-pack every square inch of any marketing collateral with stuff. It needs to breathe so your customers don't get fatigued. The inbox is the same.

Best practice #3: Front-load
People are skimmers by nature, so phrase your preheader with the best stuff first (the first 20-30ish characters). If your customers open email on a wide variety of devices, cater to the lowest common denominator so that when it cuts off, it still looks like a complete thought.

So say, for example, that you’ve got mostly mobile users. You’ll need between 40 and 90 characters for your preheader. While you certainly can use all 90, make sure the first 40 get your message across so that when it truncates, it still makes sense. 

How to use it with your subject line

The subject line should contain the best goodies and your preheader should contain the next best. They should work together to scream “OPEN ME! YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE!”.

If you have a great sale, state the discount in your subject line and use the preheader to say what’s on sale, talk about your fast/free shipping, or just have some fun. Keep it different though – remember to not repeat yourself.


Here are a few of my favorite examples of those who do it well:
Each of these hovers around the 70-80-ish-character mark. These screenshots are taken from Gmail desktop, so as you can see, they leave some extra room at the tail end for my inbox to pull in the first words it finds in the email. While these extra words don't look amazing, I actually think these are very well written. I don’t want them to be longer. They respect my time as a busy customer, get to the point, and don’t drone on.

Saying too little is better than saying too much and wanting a tl;dr, like I do with this one…

Even though the preheader above is technically shorter than it could be (because it's still pulling navigation stuff at the end), it’s entirely too long. The copy editor in me wants to scrub out the fluffy language and just get to the point.

These three, however, are far too short. They could have used the space allotted in a more meaningful way, and because they don’t use punctuation, there’s no differentiation between the preheader and the stuff after it. 

The nutshell

The most important thing here is to check out your analytics, see what devices your subscribers are using, and cater to them. Test it out - try sending some emails with 30-40-character preheaders and some with 90. Just remember that no matter how many characters you use, you should honor your customers' time and deliver your message as concisely as possible. 

Laurel Morse
Manager of Copywriting and Content Strategy


Preparing for Google's Mobile Popups Change

Thursday, November 17, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Google recently announced changes to its Mobile Search Engine Ranking Policy that are scheduled to take effect on January 10, 2017. The changes require that websites eliminate the obstruction of content on mobile devices by modals/popups, or face possible demotion in Google search rankings.

What does this mean for you?
If you’re currently doing on-site acquisition via a popup or modal that looks like either of these two, it will no longer be Google-compliant starting January 10, 2017, and Google will begin to penalizing your mobile search ranking.

So what can you do? 

Whether or not retailers like it, the change is coming. Listrak clients have access to compliant layouts that can be implemented with no IT or development resources. If you're not a Listrak client, you can either proactively take steps to abide by the new rules, OR, if you love your current popup, keep it and closely monitor search rankings and traffic after the algorithm is released. Impacts may not be immediate, so you will need to watch performance over time.


Smart Segmentation Tactics to Increase Engagement and Conversions

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Segment messages based on consumer behavior, such as purchase history, browsing activity, email engagement, location, etc.

If you’re a Listrak client, you have the ability to segment on consumer behavior like purchase patterns, browsing activity, email engagement, geo-location and more. You have likely worked with your account manager or your internal team to come up with the best way to use all the behavioral data that you have at your fingertips to create saved segments.

Once you create a saved segment in Listrak, that audience is a dynamic target moving forward. As individuals change their behaviors they are actively moved from segment to segment to address their actions in real time. We realize the value of the targeted campaigns that our retailers are sending to these audiences, as we’re seeing higher open rates, click through rates and conversions when the content is tailored to the audience.

With that in mind, Listrak set out to help our retailers save time and energy by identifying what we are calling “Smart Audiences” - now available to all Listrak clients! In the app, you will notice that Saved Segments are now called Audiences.

So, what makes these Audiences smart? Each Smart Audience was chosen to address a business challenge that retailers face. The default values are predefined, but can be customized for your specific brand or vertical.

Let’s take a look at just four of the 18 Smart Audiences, the business challenge they address and the messaging strategies you can use to increase conversions, overall engagement and brand loyalty.

(Click image to expand)

Business Challenge: Increasing the number of customers on your list
Smart Audience: Recent and active subscribers with growth potential
Many retailers are disappointed when they look at their total list size and compare that to the number of customers on the list. We have identified two audiences of active subscribers with a high probability of conversion if we deploy the right strategy.

This particular group has received your Welcome Series and potentially received an offer through that campaign. Obviously, that wasn’t enough to get the conversion at that time, so we have to get creative! Test out offers that are not typical for your marketing list (GWP, lower free shipping thresholds), test subject lines that call out their behavior (“Today’s the Day!), and if you have the option, utilize personalization to tailor the products included in the email to match their preferences and aid in new product discovery.

Business Challenge: Converting one-time buyers to multi buyers
Smart Audience: One-time buyers

Another common challenge for retailers is one-time buyers. These buyers purchase once and only once, however, if you convert even just a small percentage of this group into multi buyers, we know they are exponentially more likely to continue to make additional purchases in the future with your brand.

So how do we message one-time buyers to accomplish our goal of driving additional conversions from them? We want to deliver content to this group that is clear about the value of continuing to purchase from your brand. Test subject lines that include some of the unique values your brand offers or that highlight your loyalty program to encourage additional purchases. Use personalization to key off recent browsing behavior and recommend similar products. Consider including an incentive with a sense of urgency expiration message. You need to earn trust and create a sense of immediate value for this group.

Business Challenge: Reengaging your best customers who have not recently purchased
Smart Audience: Win back best customers with growth potential

These are some of your most valuable customers that are still actively browsing the site, but have not recently made a purchase. It’s important to express your gratitude to this group through subject line and content. Your goal here is to keep these customers loyal to your brand and prevent them from becoming a lapsed buyer.

Give them offers that make them feel special. If you can provide early access to a sale or some other version of exclusivity, do it! Support their experience with personalized content that ties to their previous purchases, like how-to’s, recipes or style guides. Facilitate a conversation between this group of individuals on social media - these are your advocates and it will make them feel good to know there are like-minded individuals out there. Use personalization to serve up the perfect products that fit their specific style.

Business Challenge: Increasing conversion rate of lapsing and at-risk customers
Smart Audiences: Lapsing and at-risk customers with growth potential

There is a small window of opportunity when it comes to recapturing consumer attention at a level where additional conversions take place. This group of customers requires a series of emails that monitor how they respond to each message. If they purchase, remove them from the conversation all together. If they open or click without converting, alter the subject line in subsequent messages to indicate you’re paying attention (“Didn’t I just see you?” or “We meet again!”). Use personalization and merchandising tactics to pique their attention, like showing new arrivals in their preferred brand or top rate products that match their shopping preferences. If you have room to do it, incentivize this group with a special offer that you repeat in every message throughout the series.

These are just a few different messaging strategies that you can try to tackle some of the top challenges facing retailers. Talk to your Listrak account manager about what other Smart Audiences and approaches you can take to increase conversions. Keep an eye out for updates to Smart Audiences that will include additional behavioral signals and predictive values and trends.

Questions? Reach out to your Listrak Account Manager or let us know in the comments section.

Julie Wahl
Listrak's Director of Retail Solutions


How Not To Make Your Emails Scary

Monday, October 31, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Recently I read a nice article from Really Good Emails (if you’re not already following them, you should). The article focuses on some key concepts to keep in mind when designing your email layout. Many of these concepts hit home for me, as they’re concepts that I preach often to my team. White space, hierarchy, organization of content, font choices, compelling imagery, and clear calls-to-action, are all vital to the success of an email design.

Take white space, for example. I wish I had $10 for every email I see with poor use of white space. I wouldn’t be retiring, but the lunch bill would be taken care of for the foreseeable future.

More often than not, the reasons for getting rid of white space are because of this devious little creature called “the fold" (or, if you ask Litmus, "the scroll") and the ever-present power it has to make marketers want to cram as much content above it as possible. This often results in an email that’s confusing and difficult to read. White space opens up the layout and makes the content easier to digest. If the fold is your primary concern, that can be alleviated by the other concepts like hierarchy and organization of content. Always remember, a good email design should draw your eyes down through the layout.

Check out the positive impact white space can have in the visual below.

For more on these concepts, check out the article here.

Design well, my friends.

Travis Buck
Listrak's Creative Director


Writing for mobile-optimized emails

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Writing for mobile audiences is actually much simpler than you’d think.

It’s all about being what I like to call “skimmable” – someone should be able to read your email while scrolling at a normal speed and get the major points. You’ve got about 3 seconds to grab a reader’s attention before they move on, so make good use of it with succinct copy, relevant content, and lots of highly breathable white space.

Here are some tips:

#1: Channel Joey Gladstone and cut it out
The biggest difference between a desktop email and a mobile one is the amount of room you have to work with. Because the device width is smaller, you have to be even more fierce with your editing. Every word counts, so if it’s fluffy or unnecessary, get rid of it.

The goal with mobile-friendly email design (and just good marketing design, period) is to be easily digested and understood. Be skimmable (despite what your high school English teacher said, sentence fragments are allowed), use active speech, and tell your customers to click through for full details (which should live on your landing page).

A prime example of short and sweet copy used in a gorgeous design.

#2: Make a plan (and stick to it).
Before you start designing, decide exactly what you want to address (i.e., make a content hierarchy) and be ruthless with yourself if you start deviating.

For example, let’s say that my email is dropping on a Friday morning and I’ve got a TGIF sale planned, an in-store event on Sunday, tons of clearance merchandise that I need to move, and a slew of new products arriving on Tuesday.

As tempting as it may seem to pack all of this into one email, I’m not going to. Think about it this way… you just got a brand new pint of Chunky Monkey. You know you could dive in face-first and house the entire thing directly from the container, but should you? Clearly not. As delicious a choice as that would be, do the right thing: go get a bowl and decide how much you really need.

So in our scenario, we need to figure out how much our readers need in one sitting. What’s the #1 most important thing we absolutely need to get across right now? I’d say the TGIF sale, and because it’s so timely and important, it’s totally OK to stop there and call it a day. Sending an email out with just 1 thing that’s compelling and relevant is a great idea.

But, if you really want more, it would be OK to add just one more thing, so let’s determine what’s #2. Depending on whether or not this is the last email of the weekend, I’m going to say it’s either the in-store event or the clearance goodies. Now I’m going to stop there and make this email with just those 2 things. I’ll give my #1 priority a ton of real estate to really hype it up, put #2 below that, and stop designing.

This brand chose to say just one thing (aside from their permanent social content) and it's marvelous. 

This email literally tells you what the top story is (not that they had to since they made it front and center) and makes everything else secondary.

#3: Images are your BFF.
People process images 60,000x faster than they read words (it’s science), so lean heavily on them to create an emotional connection and tell your story in far fewer words. Lifestyle images (those that feature people in real-life situations) tend to be the most emotionally grabby, but also try playing around with iconography to save space and create visual interest.

Just two bits of content in this email, each with a perfectly chosen image.
Without all the images, this email would be very dry and copy-heavy. Adding product images and photography in a zig-zag layout adds visual interest and makes it feel lighter.

This brand eliminated a lot of excess words from its design just by adding icons. Sentence fragments for the win!

#4 Use social proof
Your customers are on their phones constantly, so use the opportunity to weave user-generated social media content into your emails. If you’re fortunate enough to have customers who post pictures of your products, that is pure gold. Incorporating their images along with your own content will make for a much more compelling message, and you get the added bonus of acquiring a few new followers.

Social images are like product images and product reviews in one -- a double-whammy of "you should totally buy this, see how great it is?!"

#5 Be clickworthy & clickable
So by now, your email should be the right length, feature interesting images, and include relevant social proof. There’s just one more thing you need: calls to action.

Call-to-action buttons (or CTAs if you want to get all jargony) are incredibly important on mobile emails, and you need to make sure they’re big enough to be tapped. There’s nothing worse than tapping the wrong link, so 40px is the smallest dimension you want to be working with on mobile devices. If your CTA is within a larger image, make sure that when it scales down, it’s still big enough to tap comfortably.

You should also play around with phrasing. “Shop Now” can work well and is very traditional, but it’s certainly overdone. I encourage you to be creative and have as much fun as your brand allows.

All CTAs are sufficiently large, even the one that's over top of an image, and the copy is just spicy enough to make you want to click.

This brand clearly knows their customer base. "Shop Newness" is a perfect little tweak on "Shop Now" that adds some personality. Buttons are big enough to tap and well placed.

*Note about the right amount of content.
Ultimately, you just have to know your customers. How old are they? What are their habits? Are they natural-born scrollers or is their attention span super quick?

Some brands thrive on massively long emails. Take Dot & Bo, for example (RIP, my gone-too-soon wonderland of décor). Their emails were unbelievably longbut you’d better believe I scrolled through every single one of them because their content was marvelously curated. A well-deserved post-mortem round of applause to whomever was in charge of those beauties.

Questions? Let us know!

Laurel Morse
Manager of Copywriting and Content Strategy


Know the basics of Facebook targeting

Thursday, October 06, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

In the United States, we spend 50 minutes on average each day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. That’s a lot of time, and we’re often in a state of mind to be influenced by effective and relevant marketing.

As Facebook users, we can probably recall the last few sponsored ads and posts that resonated with us. As Facebook marketers, however, it can be challenging to build the ideal audiences that will be positively influenced by our ads and content. With so many targeting capabilities available to us, we can sometimes experience paralysis through analysis.

If we take it back to the basics, however, and build upon fundamentals, we can efficiently target audiences in a way that drives a positive response without breaking the bank. Here are a few audiences we can explore to jump start our Facebook marketing strategies.

Retargeting website visitors
A staple of most Facebook marketing strategies is retargeting users who visited our websites. The technique is a staple for a simple reason: It works! In an era when we pay a premium in paid search and site optimizations to attract qualified visitors, we need to put as many strategies in place to re-engage visitors who don’t convert during their first visit.

This tactic is highly effective for emerging retailers and established retailers alike. It’s also incredibly easy. Simply install the Facebook pixel on every page of your website and give Facebook at least a week to build your audience of website visitors. You’ve now unlocked the opportunity to reach a very specific audience with many types of Facebook ads.

If you’ve already taken this step, but it has been a while since you’ve look at your Facebook pixel code, make sure you’re using the most current version. Facebook discontinued a few older tracking features this fall.

While you are likely familiar with this audience type, here are a few key things for e-retailers to consider:

Regardless of how much traffic your site receives, this audience is limited in size.Set your lifetime or weekly budgets too high and you may exhaust this audience rather quickly. Watch your relevance score, conversion rate and frequency metrics to ensure you’re not over-delivering your ads to this audience.

Think through your visitors’ journeys before retargeting all website visitors.
We’ve all seen ads for products or services we already purchased. Even the best technologies and processes won’t stop this from happening in every scenario. However, we can limit those experiences. For example, if you’re running a Facebook lead ad to acquire email addresses of anonymous visitors, then don’t forget to exclude your current subscriber list when building your Custom Audience.

Reach this audience with dynamic content.

The dawn of dynamic ads—which used to be called dynamic product ads—demonstrated how easy it was to be highly relevant to visitors who abandoned their shopping cart or product page. With dynamic ads, you can retarget users with the last product they viewed on your site and additional recommendations driven by Facebook data. This ad type does require additional website integrations and a product catalog, so it’s not as plug-and-play as regular retargeting, but the payoffs are worth it.

One of the lowest hanging fruits for e-retail marketers to pick is to get consumers who’ve expressed a very high level of purchase intent, such as by adding products to a cart but then abandoning it, to opt in to the marketing list. This group also comprises purchasers who may not have subscribed at the time of purchase. Reaching this audience with a small offer on Facebook is a great way to reengage them and convert them into purchasers and/or subscribers. Some retailers we’ve tested Facebook lead ads with have seen costs as low as 40 cents per acquisition. This is a small price to pay for a valuable subscriber’s consent.

Here are three tips to remember when targeting this audience:

Babysit your high budget campaigns.
While it may be tempting to throw a large budget at this audience, don’t forget it is limited in size. Be timely and relevant with this audience, but don’t overdeliver. If you do wish to run this campaign with a hefty budget, be prepared to watch its performance and hit the kill switch when the audience shows indications of exhaustion.

Update your Custom Audiences.
This is possibly the biggest time suck for marketers. Add and remove contacts from your Custom Audience as frequently as possible. Think about how often you’re acquiring email addresses of reachable cart abandoners, browse abandoners and purchasers. No one enjoys manual processes, but this will ensure that you’re being relevant to the right people.

Use detailed targeting based on purchase behaviors and life events.This is one of the best kept secrets in Facebook’s Ads Manager. Most of us know that we can target audiences by interests, job titles and employers, but did you know that the behaviors category is based on propensity to purchase from any given product category? This is an excellent way to narrow a broad audience, for example a lookalike audience based on your best repeat purchasers.

The other best kept secret is targeting by life events. You’ve most likely seen life events show up in your news feed when friends’ relationship status changes or when their employment changes. As Facebook users, we see these events as an opportunity to share a quick “congrats,” but as marketers we should do our best to leverage these events. A real-world example of this is when I began seeing mobile ads that focused on my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary. While I didn’t purchase from this advertiser, it wasn’t due to lack of ad relevancy. It was an effective series of ads that I’ve remembered.

A further detail to keep in mind when you use detailed targeting is to include and exclude audiences. Years ago, one of the biggest gripes from Facebook marketers was that we couldn’t exclude audiences. Now we can! Don’t overlook this easy-to-use feature because it will enable you to really dial in to who you’re targeting. When targeting interests and behaviors it’s easy to end up with a bloated audience, sometimes in the hundreds of millions. Exclude some obvious or not-so-obvious audiences from this larger audience to positively affect your result rates and return on investment.

Our imagination is our only limit when it comes to targeting audiences on Facebook. These three audience targeting tactics have proven to be successful for many Facebook advertisers, but there are countless more available and Facebook continues to develop more.

Matt Vollmer 
Listrak's Product Manager
Previously published in the October issue of Internet Retailer

Matt Vollmer works closely with cross-channel retailers to understand and evolve their marketing strategies within email, social and display channels. As a product manager at Listrak, he collaborates with retail experts and engineering teams to develop new products and features that will enable digital marketers to more effectively reach their audiences across multiple channels.


Post-Holiday Strategies: 15 Awesome Ideas

Monday, September 26, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

The holidays are practically upon us. And while you could be fine-tuning your holiday strategy and putting the finishing touches on your holiday campaigns, you shouldn’t over look your post-holiday strategy. Without a post-holiday strategy, you’ll lose many of your new subscribers.

In this article, I’ll share five often overlooked ideas, five awesome post-holiday email campaign ideas, and five additional cross-channel ideas you should consider putting into place now.

What to do before the holidays are over
There are several things you can put into place now that will not only help you reach your holiday goals, but will also help you keep new subscribers and customers engaged after the holidays.

Understand Transit Days
One of our favorite tips is to gain a better understanding of your shipping deadlines. This will help you extend your shipping deadlines in areas closest to your warehouses. For example, you can see on the UPS map below how long it will take packages to be delivered from a warehouse in NJ. Understanding transit days will allow you to target customers in the right regions with accurate shipping deadlines and rates.

Understand Abandonment Rates
You must also carefully monitor bounce rates on your site in order to determine if there are changes you can make to reduce abandonments. Many times, you can control factors that will keep shoppers on your site, such as adjusting prices, changing images, adding product recommendations and reviews, etc.

If shoppers do abandon, you want to adjust the timing of your browse abandonment and cart abandonment campaigns during the holidays and don’t wait as long to reach back to customers.

Understand New Subscribers
Email acquisition rates increase about 13% in the fourth quarter, on average. This isn’t by accident – most retailers have a strategy in place to acquire as many subscribers as they can during this time…onsite, in social networks, in-store – everywhere their shoppers are. But it’s not enough to just acquire these new email addresses, you must carefully monitor new subscribers so you know which ones have purchased, which ones haven’t, which ones are engaged, which ones aren’t, etc. This way, you’ll be able to determine where new customers are coming from and you can adjust your messaging to target subscribers appropriately.

Understand Purchase Habits
You must also understand your customers’ purchase habits in order to be able to effectively generate a second sale from new customers. This level of customer data can be difficult to mine, but Listrak offers a Bayes Net Analysis that tracks sales and shows the likelihood of additional purchases being made within specific time frames. As you can see, this analysis from one of our retail clients shows that their customers have a 10% chance of placing a second order within 30 days of the first purchase, while that likelihood drops to 2.6% three months out. But customers that purchased more than five times have a 26% chance of placing another order within 30 days. Knowing when your customers buy will help you fine tune the timing of your post-purchase campaigns so you can reach shoppers at the right time.

What to Send
Now that you have a better understanding of your audience, here are a few post-holiday campaign ideas that will keep shoppers engaged and buying from you in January. These campaigns go beyond the typical holiday sales, allowing you to promote full price merchandise.

Stock Up
Help your customers beat the January blues by stocking up on essentials. These items can be full price or you can offer a sale – the point is; you can engage shoppers by showing them items that can be used year-round. They’ll appreciate a break from all of the holiday-related merchandise.

Spring Preview
After the holiday lights come down, many people are already thinking about spring, warm weather, sunlight and a new wardrobe! Help them prepare by sharing a preview of your spring merchandise.

Gift Card Redemption
An oldie but goodie! 67% of holiday shoppers will buy at least one gift card and it’s up to the retailer to be sure the recipients redeem them, which can be difficult as they don’t always know who the recipient is. Gift cards don’t count as revenue for retailers until the cards are used, and with billions of dollars in unused gift cards floating around, it is in your best interest to capture this lost revenue. According to Gift Card Statistics, 61% of gift card holders spend more than the amount on the gift card and 75% of those overspend by 60%. It is in your best interest to send at least one email to your list that makes it easy for shoppers to redeem their gift cards; however, it shouldn’t be the main message as not everyone on your list will have one. Here are some emails that we love:

Content Related to Activity
2016 was the year of personal product recommendations and customers responded positively to these messages, clicking and buying the recommended merchandise at a high rate. We expect 2017 to be the year of content recommendations based on activity. For example, if you bought an espresso maker, you could receive an email like the one below from Whole Latte Love that shares videos of how to use the machine. Or if you searched for jeans but didn’t buy anything, you could receive an email like the Style Co. example below that talks about the best jean styles for every body type. This is a great way to keep shoppers engaged without just sending another email asking them to buy something. But…we’ve found that customers DO buy from these messages even though few of them even contain a CTA asking them to.

Cross-Channel Campaigns
While there has been a slight decline in emails that offer in-store or online discounts exclusively, this tactic can help you reach specific post-holiday goals, especially when it comes to clearing out holiday merchandise.

What Else Can You Do?
While email remains the most effective channel in which to reach and convert shoppers, you can’t rely on it solely. Here are five ideas for reaching and engaging subscribers in other channels.

Every year, mobile sales have the highest growth rates as more and more customers shop on their phones and tablets. And, chances are, you’re putting a mobile strategy in place so you can reach customers through SMS messages. A great way to acquire more numbers is to let customers sign up for text messages in your opt-down. When email recipients click the unsubscribe button, give them options to either select to receive fewer email messages and/or sign up to receive SMS messages. This will help you grow your lists while reaching customers in their preferred channel.

The average retailer only has email addresses for 30% of site visitors. The rest remain anonymous. Implementing a programmatic ad strategy allows you to re-engage these anonymous shoppers through personalized and highly relevant display ads, driving them back to your site to shop.

Social Ads
Another great way to engage anonymous site shoppers is through your social networks. For example, Facebook Lead Ads is a strategic way to acquire email addresses from anonymous site visitors who showed high purchase intent by retargeting them on their Facebook news feed. You can also show shoppers ads that feature items they browsed or carted on your site, driving them back to your site to complete the purchase.

But you shouldn’t stop there. You can also build Facebook Custom Audiences to help you find new shoppers that look like your best customers.

Listrak can help you accomplish these tactics. Questions? Let us know in the comments section.


iOS 10 updates that impact email marketers

Friday, September 16, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Apple is currently beta testing the iOS 10 software update that will be rolling out soon to iPhone and iPad, and a few changes have been noted that will have an impact on email marketers and subscribers.

One-Click Unsubscribe

The most noticeable change is an unsubscribe banner that will now appear at the top of marketing emails.

Years ago, Gmail added an unsubscribe link in webmail and people freaked out. It's somewhat of a positive thing, because it provides users the ability to unsub rather than mark as spam, which can happen often. If someone wants to unsub, at least they won't mark it as spam and harm your reputation. This could also help to organically clean your list of non-engaged subscribers.

It's also a bummer because it's placed in the best real estate of the email - the top - which will take away from the available space for the content of your message. The first impression of your email will be important to get your readers' attention. Make sure your subject line and preheader text are engaging and relevant with the content of your message. Remove unnecessary content from the top of your email such as navigation, social, contact information, etc., and get right to the point. Your main message and main call-to-action paired with a relevant subject line and preheader text will provide the best experience for an opener.

Video is back

I didn't add an exclamation point after the title, because while it's cool that video is back, it's still rather unsupported across all inboxes and difficult to set up. The <video> tag used to be available in iOS, but Apple removed it for the past few versions. Now it's back. What do you think? Is this something you'd like to know more about? Let us know.

Remove Apple apps

On the last page of apps on my iPhone you'll find a folder called Junk. I plan on removing Maps, Weather, Tips, Watch, Health and Contacts (because why does this exist in two places!?). Point is, Apple will let you remove unwanted preinstalled Apple apps. It will be possible for users to remove the native Mail app, which may attract users to seek out other mail apps. The Apple Mail app has been known to have good support for responsive design, so it's important that your emails be optimized for mobile to account for the varying support of other third-party mail apps.

Make sure to take a look at the device usage of your subscribers to find out who will be impacted by these changes. iPhone remains the most popular device for opening emails, so consider optimizing your emails for the best experience.


Browse Abandonment Email Boosts Conversions

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

A well-known mobile accessories brand client deploys several Abandonment campaigns, including a three-message Shopping Cart Abandonment campaign and two-message Product Detail Page Browse Abandonment campaign. In addition, being familiar with its target customers’ buying habits, the client takes its abandonment remarketing one step further with a unique Page Browse Abandonment message. 

Knowing that many of its subscribers visit the website because they have recently purchased or plan to purchase a new device, the client uses a clever Page Browse Abandonment email as an opportunity to educate them about its number one selling screen protection product.  

Visitors who land on any page of the client's website and then abandon receive an email a few hours later (if they have not received it within the past few months), which focuses on compelling statistics about screen damage. The email then drives the recipient to the product detail page for the company's industry-leading product. 

The Page Browse Abandonment email accounts for more than 10% of the company's total abandonment campaign revenue, and together the Page and Product Browse Abandonment campaigns generate slightly more revenue than the company's Shopping Cart Abandonment campaign.

The key to the success of the Page Browse Abandonment email is in the sheer number of visitors who receive it. It goes to nearly four times as many subscribers as the Product Browse Abandonment campaign and 40 times as many as the Cart Abandonment campaign.


Gmail is going responsive!

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Gmail just announced that it will be adding support for responsive email by the end of the month. Email geeks world-wide go nuts! It’s pretty incredible. One minute you’re struggling to get your hybrid fluid email hacks to render, and out of nowhere, Gmail releases this update like no biggie:

“Starting later this month, Gmail and Inbox by Gmail will support emails created with responsive design, meaning their content adapts to fit screens of all sizes.”

There is a ton of buzz about this update. It will certainly be a game changer. So what does it mean?

Media query support
Of course, the huge news is that Gmail will be supporting media query styles in the head stylesheet. Media queries allow you to add styles specific to a device width or screen size, giving you control over the desktop and mobile experience. Having this extra control is crucial in delivering the best experience to readers on any screen.

Inline no more
In the past, Gmail would strip out the css styles found in the head of your email, forcing email developers to add styles inline. Every table, table cell, and image would have redundant styles added inline throughout the email to ensure that it rendered correctly in Gmail. All other major inboxes already support head stylesheets, and with Gmail being the last remaining holdout, inline no more. This will drastically reduce the time to code and edit emails as well as the file size of the email, by reducing redundant code.

CSS support
Gmail has also provided a great resource (the first of it’s kind for an inbox), which gives support and guidelines for development of email. By the looks of it, their hope for the future is to allow a web-based approach to coding emails, free from table layouts. However, tables are still required for Outlook to render correctly, so we can only hope this means email standards will continue to make progress towards a brighter future of email development.

Keep an eye out for more updates about Gmail and training to help make the transition to responsive and non-inlined email development. 


Are You Ready to Begin Composing Your Holiday Email Templates?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

With just a little more than 10 weeks left in the countdown to Cyber Monday, and consumers holiday shopping earlier each year, it’s clearly time to begin thinking about your holiday messages.

In fact, we’ve already begun seeing a few holiday-themed emails hit our inboxes, so it’s time to start creating them.

Before jumping straight to Christmas, however, retailers must remember that it’s a holiday season, or rather, a season of holidays, and many may provide a reason for you to reach out to subscribers with relevant and timely content and promotions.

Our 2016 Holiday Calendar at a Glance gives a handy overview, beginning with Columbus Day on October 10.  

Even with an abundance of holiday email visions dancing in your head, however, we realize that time and resources remain as limited as they are in the less festive months of the year.  That’s where Listrak Composer comes in. 
Responsive Design in No Time

You don’t need to be a developer or even know html to use Listrak Composer. It’s completely self-service with easy-to-use drag and drop functionality. What’s more, you can create responsive messages at the click of a button and you can easily view mobile renderings before sending. With sales on mobile predicted to be at an all-time high this season, the importance of having your emails render correctly no matter what device consumers are shopping on cannot be underestimated. 

You may want to develop a few holiday templates you will use throughout the season. With Composer, you can start from scratch or select a Listrak template. When updates are needed, anyone on your team can make them, rather than having to rely on a developer or designer.

In addition, the code will be tested and kept-up-to-date so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s like an early holiday gift to you! We’ve created a video that shows how easy Composer is to use.

The time that Composer saves you in developing your holiday-themed email templates can then be used to concentrate on the strategies and tactics that will really help you thrive – not just survive – this holiday season. Just a few of them include weekend sends, segmentation and concentration on content rather than promotions.