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