Explaining the Email/SEO Relationship

Friday, July 29, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

We get a lot of questions about the relationship between SEO and email. In essence, they both have the same goal; to get users to your site and, ultimately, to purchase from you. Retailers put a lot of time, effort and resources into both strategies, and each can be valuable if executed well.

There’s no denying it, though, SEO is tough! The ever-changing landscape has a reputation for being hard to navigate and complicated to follow. In the last two years alone, Google made nine major algorithm updates that affected search results in significant ways. The SEO freight train is barreling forward, and we’re hiding somewhere in the back trying to hold on for dear life!

Even if your keywords and text ads do succeed in leading people to your site, that’s only half the battle. Retailers know that almost 50% of their site traffic bounces, and from the remaining browsers, approximately 70% abandon shopping carts. Only 2% or less actually convert.

Despite all that, retailers pay by far the most on SEO/SEM of any digital marketing channel. On average, it made up 51% of the total Digital Marketing Spend for merchants in 2015.

 All of that time and investment can produce a return, but it’s a good time to bring up the old adage “Work smarter, not harder.” Retailers who focus more on email acquisition tactics and strategic email marketing solutions are able to continue to market and remarket to those visitors and get the maximum revenue in return for their spend.

With almost double the revenue per dollar spent, it’s clear that devoting more time and money to email marketing helps merchants reach their revenue goals.

We’re not saying to dial back on SEO efforts, but if you focus on building a robust email list, the possibilities are endless.  Once customer email addresses are acquired, you can start to engage those new subscribers with a unique welcome series and other personalized communications.  

When they return to your website and start browsing products, you can leverage that behavioral data to send out personalized emails with their browse history or shopping cart items if no purchase has been made. This type of personalization and nurturing is something you can’t do with SEO, but it makes all the difference in turning a browser into a buyer and a buyer into a loyal customer. It’s a smart way to make your investment work harder for you!

There are ways that SEO and email can complement each other from a holistic creative and content perspective. Here are a few recommendations:
  •  Analyze search queries and high ROAS keywords and phrases to create more relevant email content that converts faster.
  • Utilize Recurring Automated Campaigns featuring best sellers and new products to provide consistent traffic to important pages, increasing their online relevancy.
  • Segment your list for each campaign to put the most relevant content in front of users that will click through and stay on your website, decreasing bounce rate and increasing time on site. 

Take a look at your past ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) and see if boosting your email marketing efforts makes sense for you.

Related Resources:


3 Highly Effective Facebook Audience Targeting Strategies

Thursday, July 28, 2016 Matt Vollmer 1 Comments

In the U.S., we spend an average of 50-60 minutes daily on Facebook. That’s a lot of time, and oftentimes we’re 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 absolutely resonated with us. As Facebook marketers, however, it can sometimes be challenging to build the perfect 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 jumpstart our Facebook marketing strategies.

1. Retargeting Website Visitors

A staple of most Facebook marketing strategies is retargeting users who visited our websites, because it works! In an era when we’re paying a premium in paid search and site optimizations to attract qualified visitors, we need to put as many strategies in place to re-engage those mid-to-high funnel visitors who don’t convert during their first visit.

This tactic is highly effective for emerging retailers and established retailers alike. And, not only is retargeting website visitors effective, it’s also incredibly easy. Simply install your Facebook Pixel on all pages of your website and allow 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 looked at your Facebook Pixel code, we recommend making sure you’re using the most current version. A few older Facebook tracking features will be discontinued this Fall.

While you are likely familiar with this audience type, here are a few key things 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 Relevance Score, Conversion Rate and Frequency to ensure you’re not over-delivering your ads to this audience.
  • Think through your visitors’ journey 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 definitely 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, formerly Dynamic Product Ads, showed us 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 as well as additional recommendations driven by Facebook. 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. Shameless plug #1: We’re working on some cool products and features to make these additional website integrations a breeze for Listrak customers. More to come in the future.

2. Cart/Browse Abandoners and Past Purchasers Not on Your Marketing List

Second to website retargeting, this is one of the lowest hanging fruits for us to grab. Our goal here is to use our first-party lists to move identified users to an opted-in status or drive a purchase. This group comprises visitors who expressed a very high level of purchase intent by adding items to their cart or abandoning without subscribing. 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 re-engage them and convert them into purchasers and/or subscribers. This tactic nicely complements your existing Shopping Cart Abandonment and Browse Abandonment email campaigns.

Some retailers we’ve tested Facebook Lead Ads with have seen costs as low as $.40 per acquisition. This is a small price to pay for such a valuable subscriber’s consent. Now we can reach these subscribers within our ad channels as well as our most efficient channel, email.

These 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 also limited in size. Be timely and relevant with this audience, but don’t over-deliver. 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. Again, watch your Frequency and Negative Feedback signals within Facebook Ads Manager. Alternatively, set a more conservative budget and allow the campaign to run for a longer period with a lower daily reachable rate.
  • Always update your Custom Audiences.
    This is possibly the biggest time suck for us marketers. Do your best to 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. Shameless plug #2: We’ve got your back. We know this process is a pain and we’re developing ways of automating these updates so that you can strike this from your morning to-do list.
  • Are you a Listrak customer? Here’s an easy way to build these lists.
    Did you know that you can easily see which contacts are on your Automated Campaign lists but are not on your Master Marketing list? For example, go to your Shopping Cart Abandonment list, then navigate to Contacts > View… > Subscribed Contacts. From here you can add a list filter using the System Field “List Subscription Status”.

3. Detailed Targeting Based on Purchase Behaviors and Life Events

This is one of the best kept secrets in Facebook’s Ads Manager. While Facebook power-advertisers likely already leverage this targeting feature, this capability might be a surprise to novice advertisers. For good reason, too, because this less-obvious feature can be easily overlooked during the Ad Set creation process. 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 down a very broad audience, for example a lookalike audience based on your best repeat purchasers.

The other best kept secret of Detailed Targeting is 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. Normally, as Facebook users, we see these Life Events as an opportunity to share a quick “congrats”, but when we put on our Facebook marketer hat, we should do our best to leverage these Life Events in a way that benefits our audience.

A real-world example of this is when I began seeing highly targeted mobile ads that focused on my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary (whew, thanks for the reminder). 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 for years.

Here are two ideas to keep in mind when you use Facebook’s Detailed Targeting:
  • 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 who you’re targeting. When targeting Interests and Behaviors it’s very easy to end up with a bloated audience, sometimes nearing the hundreds of millions. Exclude some obvious or not-so-obvious audiences from this larger audience to positively affect your Result Rates and CPM.
  • Remember to look for your competition in Detailed Targeting.
    Many brands and retailers have enough influence on Facebook to have their own Interests category. Including (or excluding) audiences who have interest in these large brands and retailers is a handy way to help us break through the noise on Facebook. Depending on how creative we get with our ads, we really have the opportunity to make a big brand impression on these audiences.
The key takeaway here is that our imagination is our only limit when it comes to targeting audiences on Facebook. These are three common audience targeting tactics that have proven to be successful for many Facebook advertisers, but there are countless more.

As always, test these ideas and your own to see if they work for you. Keep a close eye on Relevance Score of ads on the ad-level. After an ad reaches 500 impressions, it will be assigned a Relevance Score that is based on positive and negative signals from the Facebook community. This is often an early indicator of how effective your audience/ad combination will be. More on that another day.

If you found this helpful or have other ideas to share, let us know.

by Matt Vollmer, Listrak Product Manager. Reach out and say hi to Matt on LinkedIn.


An Amazon Prime Primer: Recap of Last Year and What to Expect This Year

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Amazon turned 20 last year and Prime members all over the world gathered online for 24 hours and purchased 34.4 million items in celebration. Featuring sales akin to those found on Black Friday, Amazon enticed many people to subscribe to its Prime service for these exclusive deals.

Feedback from the event was mixed. Amazon’s Marketplace sellers came away pleased, with some achieving nearly 300% growth in sales for that day and some completely selling out of their inventory. Many consumers were pleased with their deals and steals, while others came away in frustration over limited inventory and long wait lists. #PrimeDayFail began popping up, with many tweets poking fun at the quirky sale items such as chef hats and packs of gum.

Outside of the Amazon scene, many other retailers attempted to combat Prime day with their own incentives and free shipping. Walmart had a large sale featuring special “rollbacks” and emphasizing the accessibility of its sales to everyone in contrast to Amazon’s required Prime membership. “We just don’t believe you should pay a fee to get a better price,” said Walmart spokesman. Other large retailers including Best Buy, Forever 21, Groupon, and Petco took the opportunity to hold sales as well, capitalizing on the discounts and urgency associated with “Black Friday.” Further, some retailers took a direct approach to combating Prime Day with email subject lines such as "WAY better than Prime Day" from CARBON38.


This year, a similar scene is shaping up for the "biggest global Amazon event ever." Three types of deals will be featured:
  • Spotlight deals - the best deals of the day featuring deep discounts that last until the stock runs out
  • Lightning deals - these sales will be featured for a limited amount of time, indicated by a timer, and have a status bar of how many items have been claimed
  • Savings and sales - these will run all day and discounts will be applied at checkout

Amazon has been offering deals in the days leading up to Prime Day, which officially started at 3am ET this morning. With new deals appearing as frequently as every five minutes, Prime members will be able to track the deals on Amazon’s shopping app. The app is available on the App Store and on Google Play and shoppers can choose which deals they want to "watch" to get notified when it goes live. (You can watch the tutorial video here.) The app and its notifications are a prime example (get it?) of how mobile is increasingly becoming a crucial and undeniable part of a customer's shopping experience.

In response to last year, Amazon has deepened  inventory  and widened  variety to more than 100,000 deals. One of the featured deals will be an attempt to encourage Prime members to buy and use the Echo device. By using the voice-command feature, Alexa, to order a Prime deal, the shopper will receive $10 off of the first purchase of $20 or more. Lastly, Amazon has specifically made a point to mention that a sale that does not appeal to one shopper may be perfect for another, so shoppers should still expect some unusual sales.

The competition is determined not to let Prime Day take over this year, with some retailers beginning sales over the weekend. Walmart is offering free shipping (no membership required) all week and has announced many “rollbacks” for this week in areas of high competition with Amazon, such as technology and electronics. They also won’t miss this chance to feature their “ShippingPass” program, a $49 annual pass for free unlimited two-day shipping to rival Prime. Many other retailers including Target, Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited, Bealls, J.C. Penney, Toys R Us, Sears, and Kohl’s are offering large discounts as well. Best Buy took an obvious swipe at Prime Day by announcing it is offering “Deals for All. No Membership Needed.”

Anticipation will continue to build as many people will sign up for free Prime trials to take advantage of the sales and members will set their alarm clocks for the long-awaited 3am unveiling. We will be live-tweeting throughout the day to keep you updated on the retail landscape as we keep our #EyesOnPrime!


Driving In-Store Traffic this Holiday Season

Friday, July 01, 2016 Listrak 0 Comments

Prime Day is July 12. The annual “Black Friday in July” sale was one of the most lucrative online sales day for Amazon last year, coming within 3% of its actual Black Friday sales numbers. It saw other retailers, like Walmart, jump on board and offer their own Black Friday in July sales. And even more retailers are expected to offer Prime Day sales this year.

Prime Day is the unofficial start to the holiday season, which gets earlier and earlier every year. And as your focus shifts to Q4 and the holidays, there are several strategies you must put in place.

2015 by the Numbers
Total holiday revenue increased 3% to $626.1 billion last year according to the NRF. Despite a 6.4% decline in in-store traffic, in-store sales had a slight revenue increase on 1.7%, fueled by omnichannel marketing and cross-channel engagement. Even though in-store sales had a small increase over 2014, it still accounted for about 85% of total holiday revenue.

Retailers took advantage of every opportunity to drive more customers to their stores, sending emails offering in-store only discounts or inviting customers to special events:

But one trend stood out from all of the others – Buy Online Pickup In Store.

One trend from 2015 that we expect to see even more of this year is BOPIS – Buy Online Pickup in Store – or the similar Buy Online Ship to Store and Buy Online Deliver From Store strategies. Nearly one-third of shoppers took advantage of BOPIS or BOSTS last year; and while picking up their items, 69% of shoppers made an additional purchase. More than half of all retailers offered this click-to-collect option, up 35% from 2014. Those numbers are expected to be even higher this year.

This strategy is the epitome of an omnichannel strategy as it seamlessly allows shoppers to move from your site to your transactional email and/or SMS alerts to your store in a single transaction.

Several things are needed in order to make this experience a seamless one.
  • Online and email local store locators. 
  • Accurate store inventory and clear communication on timing and location of pickups. 
  • Email / SMS notifications for both order confirmation and pickup notifications. 
  • Store associate training on how to handle the merchandise purchased online, how to remove it from the store inventory, where to store it for easy pickup, etc. 
  • If retailer is shipping items to a specific store for pickup or having the store deliver merchandise to customers, processes and training need to be created in order to handle this in an expedited and organized fashion.

Mobile and Social Drive Traffic to Stores
Mobile commerce was the big winner last holiday season with a whopping 59% increase in sales. But it is still a small percentage of total sales as it was only 18% of total digital revenue.

PSFK found that 76% of shoppers interact with a brand before ever setting foot inside a store, with the majority of those interactions happening on a mobile device. Shoppers spend 14% of their total time on their mobile devices in social networks, which definitely influence sales and in-store traffic.

Do your sites do enough to help shoppers find your stores? A simple store locator button on Facebook is a necessity, but many retailers have yet to put this in place. Another tactic to consider is allowing each local store to have its own Facebook page where customers can interact directly with associates and other local shoppers. It might be difficult to relinquish the control from the corporate office, but with training and guidelines in place, this will do wonders to create emotional bonds between customers and associates.

You can also offer the functionality of checking local store inventory of products shoppers find on Instagram, like Nordstrom does:

Your mobile shopping app should also let customers quickly locate local stores, check in-store inventory and provide important information, like where customers can pick up items they purchased online:

This holiday season will be led by personalization, outstanding shopping experiences, mobile devices and seamless omnichannel shopping. Are you ready?

We will soon publish our 2016 holiday strategy guide and we will relaunch our holiday insights center, which will offer even more advice on how you can engage shoppers across multiple channels. But if you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know!