Customer Connections: Be Better than the Benchmark

Thursday, January 28, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

At Listrak, we believe in helping you beat your industry benchmarks. And you do that by carefully monitoring your results to first set your own benchmarks and then by split-testing everything to optimize campaigns for performance.

If you’re planning to attend our Customer Connections East event in New York on Feb. 2 or the event in Newport Beach on Feb. 11, you’ll hear Kara Surrena, our Director of Client Services, share benchmarks and split-testing ideas. But for those of you who cannot attend, here are some things to keep in mind.

About Split-Testing
Split testing email campaigns has been around almost as long as email itself. Marketers would send out the same email with two different subject lines to see which one had the most opens or they'd send two versions of the same message with different images or calls-to-action to see which one had the most clicks. And they learned important lessons from these tests, such as keeping CTAs above the fold and putting key messages at the beginning of the subject line. But, like every other email campaign aspect, if you haven't updated your A/B split tests lately, it's time to take another look. We’re in a scrolling society, so above the fold isn’t really a factor anymore. And subject line best practices have changed a great deal with more people opening emails on mobile devices. What was once a tried and true best practice isn’t necessarily still what works best. So test to find out what is.

Set Goals
The goal of your split tests shouldn't be short sighted. You're not just trying to figure out what works best for a single email campaign. You should be trying to gather customer insights that you can use to drive business decisions and inform future campaigns. That means that email A/B split tests should be part of your campaign development process and not an afterthought you add in moments before you hit the send button. And you must start with a strong hypothesis. Put aside your feelings and approach it scientifically.

Forming a Hypothesis
  • Standard Hypothesis = If variable, then result. Include your rationale.
  • Weak Hypothesis = If we send messages over the weekend, then we'll sell more.
  • Strong Hypothesis = If we add an email deployment on Sunday, then we'll sell more merchandise. 

Our average email conversion rate is 7.6%. If we send more messages each week, we have more chances of converting customers.

The more specific you are, the stronger your email A/B split tests will be. Ask yourself the following questions before deciding upon your test criteria:
  • Specifically, what are you trying to learn?
  • What are your assumptions?
  • What variants will you test?
  • Are the changes big enough to truly make an impact?
  • Will the tests lead to improved results?
  • How will you measure the results?
  • Can you re-use the results to inform future campaigns?
  • Will the results answer your hypothesis?

Remember, even if your initial assumptions are proven to be incorrect, the test is successful as long as you learned something that will go on to improve campaign performance.

Split Testing Mistakes to Avoid
Setting up email A/B split tests is easy and you have the initial results in a matter of hours. But the strategy behind the split tests is complex and should be well thought out or else you could end up with a lot of data but very little context. Avoid these pitfalls:
  • Don't change important branding elements – if your brand uses specific colors, fonts, messaging or different elements, going off-brand is a mistake. Only test elements that make sense.
  • Make sure your sample group has statistical significance – if you aren't doing a true A/B split test where half of your list receives one version and the other half receives the second version, your sample group must be large enough to provide definitive results.
  • Don't call tests too early – Clients are always curious how long to run tests. While email provides almost instant results, calling tests after just a few hours could cause misleading results. For accuracy, allow tests to run at least 24 hours. Similarly, a single test simply isn't enough data, you must continue to run tests and measure the results over time. 
  • Measure the right results – make sure that the metrics you use to determine the test winner match what you're actually testing. If you're testing two subject lines, look at the open rate. If you're testing a call-to-action, monitor click-throughs. If you're testing offers or send times, measure the conversion rates. Different variables only influence certain behaviors. With that being said, it is always a good idea to look at the conversion rates of the tests. We've found circumstances where the email with the highest open or click-through rate had a lower conversion rate. While the variable being tested might not have influenced the purchases, you can learn a lot about the customer segment through this metric.



Email Split Testing Ideas
Testing subject lines and CTAs is a great place to start, but you can test nearly every aspect of your email campaign. Here are some additional ideas to try:
  • Personalization: Wondering if it is better to recommend your top selling or top trending products or merchandise that is personally recommended for each shopper based on his or her browse and purchase history? Test it! 
  • From name: You most likely – and rightly - use your company as the From Name in your campaigns. But certain campaigns, such as shopping cart remarketing or transactional messages, could work better coming from your customer service department. We've seen variations such as "Company Name – Customer Service", "customer_service@company.com" or simply "Customer Care" – the key is to test to see if you get a boost. 
  • Responsive design: More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices and more and more customers are shopping on tablets and smartphones, so emails should be mobile-optimized. Even if your site isn't responsive yet, try testing responsive emails to see if the boost in conversions provides a business case for building a responsive website. 
  • Timing: The only way to know for sure what day and what time of day you should send emails is to test. You aren't limited to sending emails Mon through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm. Set tests to deploy on nights and weekends to see what happens! 
  • Number of emails: Many retailers are sending 5-7 – or more! – emails per week. If you are still sending only one or two, run a test where you send emails daily for a few weeks. You will be surprised at the additional revenue gained when you increase your deployment schedule. 
  • Bar codes: Email drives sales, not just online but in-store as well. Including a bar code and image that looks like a coupon that customers can print and take into stores with them could drive additional traffic to your stores. It's definitely worth testing to find out. 
  • Number of products: Customers will scroll through emails that contain row after row of product images, especially if those products are personal product recommendations based on browse or purchase history. But testing these message templates will help you figure out the optimal number of products. That way, you'll know for sure how many products drive sales and where the cutoff point is. 
  • Navigation: The majority of retail emails still include site navigation at the top of the message, which can certainly help drive clicks but also takes up prime email real estate while distracting from the main message. Try running a test to see if it makes sense to keep the navigation bar in the message or if using a simpler version – or no navigation at all – makes more sense. 
  • Ratings and reviews: Social proof is a great selling tool and it can really boost sales when included in messages. If it makes sense for your brand, try testing the concept to see if it leads to an increase in revenue. 

Questions about testing? Or, did you run a great test and want to share the results? We'd love to hear from you!

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Q4 vs. Q3 2015 Retail Email Campaign Metrics

Monday, January 25, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

By Donna Fulmer, Market Research and Media Communications Manager

 Once again we’ve gathered Listrak’s global retail email campaign metrics for the recently completed quarter and compared them to the metrics from the quarter prior.  Although the numbers represent all Listrak clients from across a wide array of verticals, many of whom may not be considered holiday-sensitive retailers, it’s always especially interesting to see how campaigns performed in Q4 - the months during which email volume and online shopping are at their peaks.

Here are my thoughts on what we’re seeing:

Open Rates 


Notable: The only campaigns that enjoyed higher open rates vs. Q3 were Recurring Automated Campaigns and Welcome Series emails.

Insights: Opens obviously suffer in general when inboxes are fuller than ever; however, subscribers may have been especially eager to open Recurring Automated Campaigns because they contain highly personalized, up-to-the minute product recommendations based on each individual’s most recent activity, making them particularly helpful to busy shoppers.

Welcome Series messages, which see some of the highest open rates year-round, may have also been especially popular in Q4 because many shoppers subscribe to new lists during the holiday shopping season and are eager to take advantage of sign-up incentives.  

Conversion Rates


Notable:  All campaigns in Q4 had increased conversion rates vs. Q3 except Recurring Automated Campaigns, Post Purchase and Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails.

Insights: We all know that email in general is the workhorse of all digital marketing channels, so it stands to reason that conversions would be up in general during the year’s busiest online shopping months.

Recurring Automated Campaigns, however, may not have converted as well because they are often used as a time- and cost-effective way for retailers to present full-price products, and holiday shoppers have been trained to respond to deep holiday discounts.

The dip in conversion rates for Post Purchase emails might be explained by the fact that this metric includes not only loyalty emails that follow soon after a purchase, but also those that are typically sent 30, 60, etc. days post purchase based on what the subscriber most likely bought for him or herself. In Q4, however, many shoppers are looking to purchase for others, so these messages may seem less relevant.

Likewise it is not surprising that Shopping Cart Abandonment email conversions were down slightly, as there is much more abandonment activity when traffic is high, and shoppers tend to put items in carts with less intention to purchase during the hectic shopping season.

Average Order Value and Revenue Per Email Sent
In addition, we look at the global AOV and revenue per email sent for our retailer’s email campaigns:  



In Q4, as you can see, campaign winners and losers were pretty even for both, and, to be honest, nothing stands out to me that would truly explain the metrics. There is not doubt, however, that Q4 is a pivotal quarter for retailers.

In fact, as I was finishing up this post, I came upon a very interesting report from RJMetrics, The Ecommerce Holiday Customer Benchmark, which sheds some light on just how important the quarter is for online retailers. RJMetrics reports for example:

  • Retailers acquire 20-59% more customers during holiday months, and the percentage can be even more for holiday-sensitive retail categories
  • 39% of holiday shoppers who make a second purchase with a retailer do so in the same holiday season
  •  Holiday-sensitive retail categories generate 24% of their annual revenue from holiday customers

What did you see in your business this holiday season? If you have any insights, we’d be eager to hear them.

Strategy Guide: How to Beat Retail Email Benchmarks

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Segmentation: Weather-Related Events

Friday, January 22, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

We're hours away from winter storm Jonas and, unfortunately, we're right in the middle of it with an expected two feet of snow coming our way. And while I wait for the snow to start piling up, I've noticed weather-related emails piling up in my inbox.

Subject Line: Jonas is coming...and no...we don't mean the boyband


Subject line: Don't be caught off guard by snow and ice!!

Subject Line: Get ready for a snowball fight!


Subject Line: Milk ✓ Bread ✓ Fatwood (whoops…better stop by P&H)

This is a great segmentation tactic - especially for a storm of this magnitude that is going to affect so many states. By segmenting your audience based on locations, you can create highly targed messages that offer up the products that are most relevant and timely to their needs. You'll help them weather the storm, so to speak.

These messages could have been even more personal with the inclusion of the address of my local store. They know where I am so they could have made it easier for me to stop by this afternoon to load up on supplies.

We will cover segmentation in more detail at our upcoming Customer Connections Events in New York (February 2) or Newport Coast (February 11). It’s a day of learning, networking, and fun. And, to sweeten the deal, you can take 50% off your registration with discount code Listrak50.

I hope everyone stays warm and safe this weekend. I'm expecting to see a lot more weather-related emails come through today and tomorrow. If you see any, please share!

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Browse Abandonment Emails: Create Value for Shoppers

Friday, January 22, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Laurel Morse

As Manager of Copywriting and Content Strategy for our Professional Services department, I've created, received, and reviewed many (many) emails throughout my career, for brands in and out of the eComm realm. I’ve formed some pretty strong opinions by melding my personal take-aways with the research that other email industry leaders have conducted, and I’ll share my recommendations with you and answer your questions. Without further ado...


How to create a compelling browse abandonment campaign
Sending your customers emails about products they've abandoned isn't a new concept -- targeting people you know are actively shopping is a no-brainer. Every eCommerce company worth their salt has a cart abandonment campaign these days (and if you don't, you should probably hop on that – you can learn more about it in our latest research report), and browse abandonment campaigns are newest arrivals to the party.

For those who are unfamiliar...
If your site is hooked-up to gather this data, you'll be able to track the browsing behavior of every site visitor for whom you have an email address. So if someone signs up for your emails or has shopped with you before, you'll be able to see what they're looking at and send them follow-up emails if they leave your site without purchasing.

I always feel like somebody's watching me...
Sending someone an email about a product they recently browsed can go one of two ways: you can nail it spot-on with an email that speaks to the visitor without being too pushy, or you can go the online stalker route and totally creep them out. Let's not do that.

The best way to address someone who browsed your site and then bailed is to use automated product recommendations. That way you can present them with what they recently looked at plus associated items they may have missed. Not only does this expand the opportunity for them to buy, it gives you the opportunity to disguise the fact that you were watching what they were doing on your site. You can take this route and be subtle about your voyeuristic tendencies, or you can be flat-out honest about it. I recommend testing this for your customers -- see which tactic works best for them.

Design-wise, keep these messages as fun as your brand will allow. If you're too serious, you're just upping the creepy stalker factor. Having a sense of humor will disarm the visitor and show that while you're trying to make a sale, your brand has a personality, too.

Here are a few examples of great browse abandonment campaigns. These brands took different strategies (some blunt and honest, some more subtle), but all four messages work really well. It's up to you to know what will work best for your customers.







By combining personal product recommendations with trending products and the wisdom of the crowd, the message is softened. In the third example, the email uses the text, “Many of our customers love this and we think you will, too."




And in the last example, the email states, “What you (and customers like you) are browsing, shopping, loving...right now.” 


And both examples show product recommendations based on the shopper's browse behavior. The inclusion of trending and top-rated products is useful as it removes the stalker factor while helping shoppers discover new products. 






With thoughtful messaging and personal recommendations, these campaigns definitely become something shoppers find value in rather than something that turns them off.


Questions? I’d love to know what your thoughts are.

Strategy Guide: Personalize Every Email with Browse Behavior Data

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Customer Connections: Personalize Messages to Nurture Shoppers

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Ryan Ogurcak, Account Manager

In a prior blog post, which you can read here, my colleague shared ideas on acquisition and how to generate an initial sale from those new subscribers. There’s little debate that list growth plays a pivotal role in the success of ecommerce businesses. However; sadly, most retailers have more subscribers on their lists that have never bought than those that have. How can you make adjustments to generate more buyers and sell more to the customers you already have?

Subscribers and customers have high expectations from their favorite retailers. It’s 2016...subscribers expect all channels to be in sync. Onsite, email, in-store activity, social, display, and especially mobile should be aligned so there isn’t a breakdown or confusion in communication. If a subscriber expresses interest in a particular product in-store or through social media, that preference should be displayed in digital marketing campaigns online and in email, too.

In a 2015 Harris Poll, 67% of customers said they value product recommendations while they are shopping online. Because a majority of customers see value in personalization – and we’re seeing click and conversion rates increase along with it – why not feature them in your marketing messages? Think about the automated campaigns you have in place – welcome series, shopping cart abandonment, online browse, loyalty, transactional, birthday, and many more – there are opportunities for personalization in all of them.




A common challenge most retailers have is the time to create and deploy the messages. One email could take anywhere from a few hours to a number of days, depending on the complexity. Instead of manually selecting the products to display for each send, automate the process by using the customer’s purchase, abandonment, and browse behavior to determine what should be displayed for each subscriber. We see that 1/3 of the top 1000 online retailers send more than 20 emails per week. Many of those sends are triggered or automated. Follow in their footsteps and get more emails out the door without using more of your time.

I encourage you to attend our Customer Connections Events in New York (February 2) or Newport Coast (February 11) where I’ll be presenting a session that goes in-depth on how to personalize every message you send. It’s a day of learning, networking, and fun. There’s a good chance you have some campaigns in place that can be optimized to show that customer relationship all retailers are looking for. I hope to help you do that!

Strategy Guide: Personalize Every Email with Browse Behavior Data

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2015 Email Year in Review

Friday, January 15, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

Yesterday, hundreds of retail marketers tuned in to hear Ross Kramer and Aaron Pearson discuss the hottest trends and the biggest lessons learned in 2015 and how you can carry these strategies forward to ensure you meet your 2016 goals.

In case you missed it, you can watch the webinar on demand here:


Here is a quick recap of what was discussed during the webinar on Twitter:
  • No. 1 #emailmarketing trend in 2015? MOBILE: One-third of holiday online sales happened on mobile.
  • 53% of emails are now opened on mobile devices +15% in 2015. Desktop and webmail decreased 13%
  • Digital commerce increased 21% Cyber Monday 2015. Mobile commerce increased 53% & desktop ecomm increased 12%
  • Mobile influenced holiday sales – 37% of revenue came from mobile-friendly emails leading to responsive sites
  • No. 3 from Listrak: Progressive enhancement & graceful degradation. 
  • Progressive enhancement is developing for the least common denominator or least supported inbox – design for Outlook first 
  • Graceful degradation develops for the most advanced inboxes, forcing less capable inbox users to just deal with it
  • Apple inboxes account for 50% of all email opens. 
  • Make your email buttons bullet-proof so users can see the call-to-action even with images turned off. 
  • Not surprising but still extremely important for effective #emailmarketing ... No. 4 from Listrak is engaging content.
  • 70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content 
  • 86% of millennials say that UGC is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service.
  • Listrak, great example where engaging content tells brand story, builds loyalty & acquires customer data for re-targeting!

We also discussed some of the findings of our annual Shopping Cart Abandonment Research Report.

We had a lot of great questions during the webinar but let us know if you have any additional ones.

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Inbox Wars: The Email Awakens

Monday, January 11, 2016 Listrak 4 Comments

By Aaron Pearson, Product Manager

Email development can be hard to get right! Even for veteran email developers and web jedi, the rendering limitations of inboxes have created a disturbance in the force. I just saw the new Star Wars, so bear with me. No spoilers, I promise.

Even with the multitude of limitations, 2015 was a great year for email! We saw some of the most creative solutions and improvements that really pushed the boundaries of what we thought emails could do.

Pret gave us this refreshing, interactive smoothie email.


Litmus got everyone talking with a live Twitter feed in email.


Mark Robbins, from RebelMail, used punch card coding to create a live email shopping cart and checkout experience.


These are all amazing, impressive examples of what is possible, but lightyears beyond what most email padawans are capable of. Yet, there are several techniques and philosophies that each of these emails use that email marketers can begin implementing, even with limited development resources.

Two Sides of the Force


Two perspectives of developing email that come from the web development world areprogressive enhancement and graceful degradation.

Progressive enhancement is developing for the least common denominator or least supported inbox. Sometimes we call this “Outlook first”, since Outlook is often the most difficult to support. Once the email is well supported in all inboxes, you can enhance features and functionality with custom styles that will be supported in advanced inboxes.

Graceful degradation focuses on developing for the most advanced/capable inboxes, forcing “older” or less capable inbox users to just deal with it. Depending on your audience, usually the majority of users are opening in well supported inboxes.

Typically, because of the vast differences of rendering support for email inboxes, a combination of both methods will work for different scenarios.

Email Client Market Share


It’s important to know your audience and to understand the limitations and capabilities of the inboxes they are using. Source

As of December 2015, 50% of email opens are occurring on Apple devices, between iPhone, iPad, and Apple Mail. This gives us “A New Hope” for the future of email, as these inboxes offer us the most support for future forward coding practices, with support for CSS3 and HTML5.


"Do or do not, there is no try" - Yoda


Clearly, Yoda never tried to develop an email, or his quote would have been more like:


Even Pret’s interactive smoothie email has a great fallback design for inboxes with minimal support for interactivity.


Let’s take a look at one example that shows the use of graceful degradation and progressive enhancement, as well as best practices for user experience.

Bulletproof buttons is the common term for creating call-to-action buttons in email. It’s nearly impossible to have them render consistently across inboxes, so we had to add “bulletproof” to let everyone know, it’s okay that they don’t look the same everywhere. Form follows function. In other words, it just needs to be clickable!

<table width="100%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0">
  <tr>
    <td align="center">
      <table width="auto" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0">
        <tr>
          <td style="background-color:#21BADA; border-radius: 30px;"><a href="http://www.listrak.com" title="" target="_blank" style="font-family:sans-serif; font-size:14px; color:#ffffff; text-align:center; display:inline-block; background: #21BADA linear-gradient(to bottom, #4ACDEB, #1091CB); border:1px solid #21BADA; text-decoration:none; padding:12px 30px; border-radius: 30px; box-shadow: 0 0 8px grey; box-sizing:border-box; -moz-box-sizing:border-box; -webkit-box-sizing:border-box;"><strong>EXAMPLE CTA</strong></a></td>
        </tr>
      </table>
    </td>
  </tr>
</table>

EXAMPLE CTA


It’s easy to see how styles gracefully degrade in inboxes with limited support. Custom styles like box-shadow, border-radius, and background gradients slowly lose support in Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. However, the functionality still exists.

The best example of progressive enhancement in email development is responsive design, which we don’t often think of in that way. The fact is, media queries are not supported in all inboxes, so it’s important to consider the fallback state of emails viewed on mobile devices.

In a few short steps, let’s make our button full width and increase the font size to make a more thumb-friendly button.


Add a media query into the embedded style sheet in the head of the document. This media query will engage the styles associated with the classes when the viewport hits 414px.

@media only screen and (max-width : 414px) {
 .full-width {width: 100%;}
 .larger-text {font-size: 16px !important;}
}

Finally, add the “full-width” class to the wrapping table and link, and include the “larger-text” class on the link.


The most beneficial reasons for using bulletproof buttons rather than an image, are the ability to enhance styles on mobile and also provide the best experience for users when images are turned off. It’s generally a sight for sore eyes when an image heavy email loads with images turned off. Consider “images off mode” a rendering support limitation for those inboxes. It’s probably best if this isn’t a user’s first impression.


Surprisingly, a high number of email users still view emails with images turned off. Once Gmail began caching and loading images automatically, we learned that about 43% of users were reading emails with images turned off. I’ve seen my mom do it. The problem is real.

Light Side vs Dark Side


There are pros and cons to developing emails with progressive enhancement. It requires more planning and development time, and segments your audience by delivering a different experience. But sometimes different is unique and that can be a good thing.
Here is what Litmus had to say about their live Twitter feed:

“We were blown away by the results from this campaign! Over 53% of our opens came in a WebKit email client, so many of our users saw the progressively enhanced version. In total, there were 750+ tweets about #TEDC15 in the first 24 hours after sending the email. Additionally, the email helped drive over 4,000 new visitors to our website and generated over 1,000 new prospects in that same amount of time! Not to mention, this email saw the best engagement we’ve seen from any email we’ve ever sent—almost 60% of users viewed the email for over 18 seconds!“

Use the Force


Give it a try the next time you start developing an email. Think about how your email gracefully degrades and what enhancements you can style to better engage your audience.
Here is my favorite progressively enhanced email, and the fallback for unsupported inboxes.




Come join me in New York City on February 2 and Southern California on February 11 for a showcase of great emails from 2015. I’ll share some additional insight about the overall email audience and market share from the past year and examples of campaigns and tactics to try in 2016. This event is open to retailers and I can offer you a discounted pass using code “Listrak50” at checkout. Visit our event page here to learn more. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions!

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Customer Connections: Tips for Cross-Channel Email and Mobile Acquisition

Thursday, January 07, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Cherrill Hartman, Listrak Account Manager

It’s 2016 and we’re just coming down off the holiday rush, but I bet you’re already thinking about where and how to find new customers and subscribers.

Subscriber acquisition is often times a large pain point for many retailers. Consequently, it’s also a large opportunity and should therefore be prioritized accordingly. Whether you are a multi-channel retailer who has stores, a pure play online-only retailer or mainly a wholesaler there are options for cross-channel acquisition points.

The best acquisition strategies will target people in many different channels that range from in-store to online through social and across display.

Onsite Subscriber Acquisition


Traditional onsite opt-ins, such as modal lightboxes, header and footer signups, and checkout, are typically the most successful email acquisition points. But, it doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there.

Start asking for mobile numbers so shoppers can sign up for SMS messaging – even if you don’t offer this yet, chances are good that you will someday soon. Another great acquisition point is an exit modal lightbox. When shoppers are about to leave the site, give them an opportunity to stay in touch via email or text.

Research Study: Do Modals With or Without Offers Perform Better?


Acquisition from Social Networks


Utilize social media? Your potential customers do. This particular channel can be a good resource for targeting custom, lookalike audiences and engaging shoppers. Anyone who visits your social media pages is typically engaged enough to opt-in for email, so give them an easy way to do so.

In-store Email and Mobile Acquisition


Capture that critical customer data by asking for it at the checkout counter, offering an e-receipt and/or posting visual aids for mobile coupons. All of these strategies are great ways to boost your acquisition strategy. Some retailers are even going as far as putting photo-booths or other interactive digital displays in-store to create a fun and exciting experience, but not without grabbing that email address first.

Effective Welcome Series: Turn Those Subscribers into Customers


A well-thought out welcome series turns subscribers into customers. Welcome messages have evolved from a simply “thanks for signing up” with a 10% off discount to a three – or more – message series offering personalized product recommendations based on what subscribers looked at onsite, a tailored message inviting customers to visit local stores, or a highly relevant message offering additional value-based information that assists customers in completing purchases. The key is to personalize each message –not only by subscription point but by using all subscriber data available to you.

Come join me in New York City on February 2 and Southern California on February 11 as I explore the world of subscriber acquisition and how you can implement these strategies quickly and boost your sales in 2016! We’ll review everything from current acquisition tactics to the newest emerging trends for capturing new subscribers in the retail industry. This event is open to retailers and I can offer you a discounted pass using code “Listrak50” at checkout.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions!

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New Year, New Strategies: Digital Marketing Strategies Retailers Should Expect in 2016

Monday, January 04, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

While we anxiously await the final holiday revenue numbers to be calculated, there are a few things we already know regarding the way customers shopped. And these holiday shopping trends tell us a lot about the ways customers will continue to interact and buy from retailers in 2016.

The Global Mobile Explosion


Unlike 2014, many stores remained closed on Thanksgiving in 2015 – and some remained closed to the early Black Friday shoppers or, in REI’s case, remained closed all day. This contributed to a 10% decrease in store revenue on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. However, online sales for those two days saw double digit increases over last year. Consumers spent $1.73 billion online on Thanksgiving, 25% higher than 2014.

Mobile was the clear winner this holiday season. From Adobe Digital Index:
  • Thanksgiving Day: mobile accounted for 37% of online revenue – 22% from smartphones and 15% from tablets
  • Black Friday: mobile sales increased 14.3% over 2014 bringing in 33.2% of all sales 
  • Cyber Monday: 26% of sales came from mobile devices, up 16% from 2014

Nearly 30% of all sales are now coming from mobile devices and 78% of smartphone users access a retail site through a mobile app. There is no doubt that mobile shopping is gaining momentum and it’s expected to increase even more in 2016.

As you finalize your marketing strategy mobile must be a focus.

Here are some mobile tactics to consider:

  • Acquire mobile numbers along with email addresses – email should remain your daily communication method with your customers while SMS messaging should be used more sparingly for truly exclusive offers, transactional messages or re-engagement. 
  • Add beacons to enhance the in-store shopping experience – push messaging will aid customers in product discovery as they are shopping while marrying the best of in-store and online shopping
  • Create a mobile shopping app that adds value to the in-store shopping experience – including features such as the ability to scan a product bar code to see if particular sizes are in stock, read reviews, save items to their favorites or find related merchandise will assist shoppers and help them checkout faster. Additionally, making coupon codes or loyalty points available in-app will help customers make purchase decisions.
  • Don’t overlook the basics – responsive sites and emails are a must in 2016. Over half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices so you must optimize your messages to ensure shoppers have a good experience. 

Cross-Channel Shoppers


There is no denying that many retailers are bridging the gap between channels and are breaking down the data silos. In 2014, webrooming – customers who research products online but buy in-store – and showrooming – customers who research products in-store but buy online – were frowned upon. But it was embraced in 2015.

Showroomers are typically driven by price – they find items they love in a store and then search online for the lowest price. Webroomers, on the other hand, are driven by quality and/or shipping fees. Retailers won more customers this year by understanding that both webroomers and showroomers are all shoppers who ended up in their stores and all it took to convert them was the right offer and engagement.

Pier 1, for example, had a kiosk set up in-store that allows customers to browse and purchase items from its site and have it shipped for free to the store. Many other retailers offered online or mobile wish lists that customers could add items to and then easily find in-store. And many more upped their Buy Online Pick Up in Store offering by including curbside pickup. Retailers didn’t worry as much about what channel the sale came from and instead focused on converting each and every customer in the channel that worked best for him or her.

This year, expect channels to blur even more. Customers expect a seamless experience as they move from your site to your store to their mobile device. In order to provide it you must eliminate your data silos so customer data from every channel can be used to inform campaigns no matter where customers are shopping or interacting with your brand.

Key Shopping Periods


Many holiday shoppers started buying earlier this year thanks to “Christmas Creep” - promotions began soon after Halloween. While that left some people complaining about decorations being put up too early, there is no denying the benefits to both retailers and shoppers. Shoppers were offered great deals and had the ability to spread out spending so it was easier to budget. They could also avoid the last-minute holiday rush. Retailers, on the other hand, had the opportunity to get a jump start on holiday revenue while also, possibly, enticing some shoppers to spend more as they took advantage of early holiday promotions while continuing to shop throughout the season. Retailers had the added bonus of early holiday data – they knew what shoppers were looking for and could better target their messages. But what does that mean for you in 2016?

Plan Your Year-Over-Year Calendar Accordingly


Be sure your promotional calendar reflects your early promotions so year-over-year projections are aligned. Also, if you’re one of the many retailers who moved from a weekly email deployment to a daily send this year, your 2016 calendar should reflect that. As you know, sending more email generates more revenue so it is important to understand exactly what led to 2015’s sales each day so you can meet your 2016 goals.

That doesn’t mean that you have to send the same number of messages or start your promotions at the same time as last year. In fact, there are some things you can do that will generate more revenue while saving you time and resources. For example, personalizing messages with products that shoppers have viewed but didn’t purchase, or engaging customers with personal recommendations based on past purchases will greatly increase revenue while reducing design time needed to create messages. Take this personalization a step further by using the same recommendations in retargeting display ads to really engage shoppers when they are online.

You can also try segmenting your list in new ways. Try sending a promotion to shoppers who have visited your site within the last 45 days and browsed a specific brand but didn’t purchase. Or send an offer to shoppers who have purchased over 90 days ago and have opened an email within that last 20 days but haven’t placed a second order. The more specific you can be, the better.

Tactics like these will help you reach your daily revenue goals without overwhelming your customers with messages that aren’t relevant to them.

Have questions about these strategies? Let us know.

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