In Defense of Popups

It is no secret that we tout the modal popup as the ultimate tool for building your email subscriber base, and we have the research to prove why. There are still those, however, who avoid using this time-tested tactic for fear that they will annoy – and potentially lose – prospective customers. 

Recently, while discussing the effectiveness of exit popups, Listrak Senior Solution Consultant Joe Devine met with the popular popup objection. We thought his response was worth sharing:

The best strategies surrounding pop-ups, side bars, footer overlays, or any other sort of whirligigs are often hotly contested by marketers. Some folks see them as the utter dissolution of all brand integrity, while some of us see them as a necessary engagement tool when trying to achieve revenue goals. 

The truth is engagement KPIs are lifted when you strategically increase acquisition. However, with such a broad spectrum of sentiments, one thing is clear: One size will not fit all and testing is key to driving adoption.  After years of deploying and testing these technologies, it may seem brash, but the simple fact is, these tools work and work well. For every naysayer, I would challenge you to prove that the revenue results are not achievable or that any detriment to your brand or UX can’t be overcome. 

I have said many times, for each member of your audience who abhors the technology, there are 100 more who will engage and interact with it. Marketers and brand strategists can take their windfall of profits from the 100 shoppers who convert at significantly higher levels and send flowers requesting forgiveness from every disgruntled website visitor, leaving plenty of profit for the bottom line (literally, a beautiful spring bouquet of fresh flowers!). With the right strategy, you can win your audience over. 

Some retailers seem to have missed or dismissed the concept of “selling.” I believe that many audience members, on some level, want to be engaged during their shopping experience. Just as a sales rep on the floor of your stores should be greeting and interacting with patrons, so too should your website. Will you please everyone? No. But who is out there today pleasing everyone?  If we make marketing decisions based upon the small audience we can rarely please, we miss the opportunity to please the audience that is ready, willing, and able to engage with us.

Fashion Digital LA 14: The intersection of commerce and couture

Once again, Listrak will be at the intersection of commerce and couture when we participate in Fashion Digital LA on May 7. At the show, Ross Kramer will be leading the panel discussion Measure What You Manage: Customer Acquisition and Retention Strategies, where industry experts will discuss their measurements for success and what ROI looks like across different channels. 

Find out more about FDLA and all of Listrak’s upcoming events on the News and Events page of our website. 

Gmail Grid View


In case you’re not aware Gmail is currently doing a field trial that allows you to view image previews of promotional emails. It’s referred to as the grid view. I signed up for the field trial and it’s definitely something retailers will want to take advantage of. There was however an issue I noticed. Some of the emails did not have an image preview. With a little research I discovered there are a few things that can cause this problem. This article at FreshInbox provides some helpful information about fixes for the issue.


Inc. Shares “Why You Should Worry About Heartbleed”

As a follow-up to the information shared in yesterday’s post from James Koons, today we share an article found in Inc., Why You Should Worry About Heartbleed: 

An alarming lapse in Internet security has exposed millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive bits of information to potential theft by computer hackers who may have been secretly exploiting the problem before its discovery.

The breakdown revealed this week affects the encryption technology that is supposed to protect online accounts for emails, instant messaging and a wide range of electronic commerce.

Security researchers who uncovered the threat, known as “Heartbleed,” are particularly worried about the breach because it went undetected for more than two years.

Although there is now a way to close the security hole, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned, said David Chartier, CEO of Codenomicon. A small team from the Finnish security firm diagnosed Heartbleed while working independently from another Google Inc. researcher who also discovered the threat.

"I don’t think anyone that had been using this technology is in a position to definitively say they weren’t compromised," Chartier said.

Chartier and other computer security experts are advising people to consider changing all their online passwords.

"I would change every password everywhere because it’s possible something was sniffed out," said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer for Qualys, a maker of security-analysis software. "You don’t know because an attack wouldn’t have left a distinct footprint."

But changing the passwords won’t do any good, these experts said, until the affected services install the software released Monday to fix the problem. That puts the onus on the Internet services affected by Heartbleed to alert their users to the potential risks and let them know when the Heartbleed fix has been installed so they can change their passwords.

"This is going to be difficult for the average guy in the streets to understand, because it’s hard to know who has done what and what is safe," Chartier said.

Yahoo Inc., which boasts more than 800 million users worldwide, is among the Internet services that could be potentially hurt by Heartbleed. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said most of its most popular services—including sports, finance and Tumblr—had been fixed, but work was still being done on other products that it didn’t identify in a statement Tuesday.

"We’re focused on providing the most secure experience possible for our users worldwide and are continuously working to protect our users’ data," Yahoo said.

Heartbleed creates an opening in SSL/TLS, an encryption technology marked by the small, closed padlock and “https:” on Web browsers to signify that traffic is secure. The flaw makes it possible to snoop on Internet traffic even if the padlock had been closed. Interlopers could also grab the keys for deciphering encrypted data without the website owners knowing the theft had occurred, according to security researchers.

The problem affects only the variant of SSL/TLS known as OpenSSL, but that happens to be one of the most common on the Internet.

About two-thirds of Web servers rely on OpenSSL, Chartier said. That means the information passing through hundreds of thousands of websites could be vulnerable, despite the protection offered by encryptions. Beside emails and chats, OpenSSL is also used to secure virtual private networks, which are used by employees to connect with corporate networks seeking to shield confidential information from prying eyes.

Heartbleed exposed a weakness in encryption at the same time that major Internet services such as Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are expanding their usage of technology to reassure the users about the sanctity of their personal data. The additional security measures are being adopted in response to mounting concerns about the U.S. government’s surveillance of online activities and other communications. The snooping has been revealed during the past 10 months through a series of leaked documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Despite the worries raised by Heartbleed, Codenomicon said many large consumer sites aren’t likely to be affected because of their “conservative choice” of equipment and software. “Ironically, smaller and more progressive services or those who have upgraded to (the) latest and best encryption will be affected most,” the security firm said in a blog post.

Although it may take months for smaller websites to install the Heartbleed fix, Chartier predicted all the major Internet services will act quickly to protect their reputations.

In a Tuesday post announcing it had installed the Heartbleed fix, Tumblr offered its users some blunt advice.

"This still means that the little lock icon (HTTPS) we all trusted to keep our passwords, personal emails, and credit cards safe, was actually making all that private information accessible to anyone who knew about the exploit," Tumblr said. "This might be a good day to call in sick and take some time to change your passwords everywhere—especially your high-security services like email, file storage, and banking, which may have been compromised by this bug."

—Associated Press

Listrak Client Naturopathica Receives Award for Best Beauty Email Message Campaign

Listrak client Naturopathica was recently recognized by the Web Marketing Association as a winner in the 2014 Internet Advertising Competition Awards. The manufacturer and retailer of professional skin care was honored in the category of Best Fashion or Beauty Email Message Campaign.

The email campaign that earned Naturopathica the prestigious honor was a series of welcome emails created by Naturopathica Director of Direct Marketing and Sales Sarah Falcon, Marketing Associate for Digital Content and Creative Suzie Morgan and Creative Director Eon Kim, in conjunction with Listrak, the company’s Email Service Provider.

Sarah Falcon describes the winning campaign. “The series of three emails serves to introduce new subscribers to the Naturopathica brand and features gorgeous branded photography to set the stone for the Naturopathica experience. The first email welcomes the new subscriber and offers a discount on her next order;

the second provides insight into the brand with a note from our company founder and CEO Barbara Close;

and the third highlights the products that make Naturopathica the spa industry’s best-kept secret.”

The automated welcome series of emails is triggered through the Listrak platform when a new subscriber signs up through a modal window on the Naturopathica homepage and results in exceptional engagement and conversion rates. Falcon shares, “The winning campaign has more than a 48% open rate, a more than 10% click through rate and a more than 24% conversion rate – the highest overall engagement of any of our email campaigns. “

She continues, “Since it launched, sales from our Welcome Series alone has lifted our total eCommerce sales by more than 6% and total web traffic by more than 12%. In addition, new customer sales have lifted more than 107% year over year.”

Listrak CEO Ross Kramer comments, “We are thrilled that Naturopathica has received this well-deserved honor that puts them in company with some major world-class brand marketers.  We recommend that any client follow a new email signup with a series of welcome emails, because they come at a time when the subscriber is particularly engaged with the brand and therefore typically return some of the best results of any email campaign. For Naturopathica, this, along with exceptionally well-crafted messages and stunning photography, is clearly a winning combination.”

 About the Award

Each year the Web Marketing Association’s IAC Award Competition names the Best Email Message Campaign. The winners are selected by judging the entered creative using seven criteria – design, ease of use, copywriting, interactivity, use of technology, innovation and content.

 About Naturopathica

Nearly two decades ago, clinical esthetician, aromatherapist and herbalist Barbara Close realized that clients at her Healing Arts Center & Spa struggled to find the ideal anti-aging skin care solutions. At the same time, medical studies were proving that chronic inflammation and irritation are at the heart of aging and weakened skin. In response, Barbara created NATUROPATHICA—a breakthrough line of

professional skin care that delivered real results and yet was safe enough even for sensitized skin. Today, NATUROPATHICA is trusted and recommended by professionals in over 350 of the most renowned spas across the USA and Canada.

Important News on the Heartbleed Bug


Today we introduce the first in our regular series of Privacy and Deliverability blog posts from James Koons, Listrak’s Chief Privacy Officer, a trusted industry leader with vast knowledge in security, Interactive marketing and privacy.

James was recently appointed to the board of the esteemed Online Trust Alliance, which shared the details of his background along with its official announcement. He kicks off the series with information on the timely and important topic of the Heartbleed Bug:

A major online security vulnerability known as the Heartbleed bug could put your personal information at risk, including passwords, credit card information and e-mails.

The Heartbleed bug is a flaw in OpenSSL, an open-source encryption technology that is used by an estimated two-thirds of Web servers. It is behind many HTTPS sites that collect personal or financial information.  These sites are typically indicated by a lock icon in the browser to let site visitors know the information they’re sending online is hidden from prying eyes.

Cybercriminals could exploit the bug to access visitors’ personal data as well as a site’s cryptographic keys, which can be used to impersonate that site and collect even more information.

Listrak has confirmed that our platform and all associated infrastructure is not affected by this vulnerability. Still, our security and infrastructure teams are encouraging customers to be aware and change their online passwords as needed once they have confirmed a site has taken the proper measures to address the bug.

Security researchers demonstrated the flaw by stealing Yahoo e-mail login information on Tuesday morning, but Yahoo has since fixed the issue across its major sites, including Tumblr.

Click HERE for more information on The Heartbleed Bug.


Welcome to the first installment of our new Partner Perspectives blog post series. Under this header you will find valuable information shared by our omnichannel marketing partners who, like Listrak, are dedicated to helping retailers succeed.

Our debut post comes courtesy of our friends at Groove: 

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

Some online customers are better than others – there, I said it. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. These are the customers that spend more money, buy more often, and think your products and services are fantastic; they’re your unofficial brand ambassadors and their continued support for your business is essential to maximizing revenue potential, particularly over the long-term. But just how important are these “best customers” for eTailers as we push forward in 2014? How do you properly identify this group and then actually retain them? To tackle these questions, I joined forces with big data pro and Content Marketer Janessa Lantz of RJMetrics, an emerging business intelligence SaaS based out of neighboring Philadelphia that has partnered with a number of impressive brands that include Bonobos,, Frank & Oak, and Threadless, among others. 

Part 1: Janessa

What Big Data is Telling Us

In our 2014 RJMetrics eCommerce Benchmark Report, we analyzed customer data across hundreds of our eCommerce clients to find the answer to the question posed earlier: just how good are your best customers? The answer is profound.

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

Wow, right?! This group isn’t just slightly better, they’re far and away your most important customer segment as they spend 30x more than your average customers over the course of their lifetime. They also make 4x more purchases than your average customers and spend 5x more per order. To put this all into perspective, your best customers spend as much as the entire bottom half of your customer base over the course of their expected purchasing history. If you’re ever going to lose a customer, these are not the ones that you want to lose.

Wow, right?! This group isn’t just slightly better, they’re far and away your most important customer segment as they spend 30x more than your average customers over the course of their lifetime. They also make 4x more purchases than your average customers and spend 5x more per order. To put this all into perspective, your best customers spend as much as the entire bottom half of your customer base over the course of their expected purchasing history. If you’re ever going to lose a customer, these are not the ones that you want to lose. 

How Do You Identify The Best of the Best?

Step 1: Calculate Your Store’s Average Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

To find your best customers, you’ll need to look at more than just your “biggest orders ever.” This isn’t about one-off purchases; this is about finding (and keeping) the kind of customers that buy again, and again, and again. For this, you’ll want to look at customer lifetime value (CLV) which is an absolute paramount metric to use for calculating marketing ROI, finding the needle in the marketing spend haystack, and identifying your very best customers. It measures the profit that your business makes from any given customer over the course of their purchasing history. While this may be a particularly extensive exercise if you have a large customer database, it’s an important one and worth the resource investment. This formula can be equated in a few different ways (and also vary slightly by industry), but here’s a simple B2C version if you’re new to the concept:

CLV = (Avg. Order Value) x (Orders Per Year) x (Avg. Retention Rate)

Start by taking the data from your entire customer database so that you can calculate an overall average customer lifetime value – this will serve as your basis for comparison later on.

RJMetrics Pro Tip:  Want to take the above customer lifetime value formula a step further by including factors such as Customer Acquisition Cost? Check out our sweet (and totally free) CLV Calculator; sneak peak below:

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

Step 2: Segment Individual CLVs to Identify Outliers

After calculating your overall average CLV for your store’s database, you’ll want to dive into individual CLVs by creating customer segments. How you develop customer segments and dive into the data at the individual customer level is an art form and can be daunting depending on the size of your database. If you have a tool that can properly leverage consumer data for intelligence reporting (cue my RJMetrics pitch), this is definitely the time to use it. After your segments are created, and you’ve calculated CLV at the individual level, compile a list of your best customers based on those furthest north of your average mark from step 1. Treat this list like gold and know that if you lose just one of these customers, you could take a major hit to growth long-term and wind up looking like this guy…

Step 2: Segment Individual CLVs to Identify Outliers

After calculating your overall average CLV for your store’s database, you’ll want to dive into individual CLVs by creating customer segments. How you develop customer segments and dive into the data at the individual customer level is an art form and can be daunting depending on the size of your database. If you have a tool that can properly leverage consumer data for intelligence reporting (cue my RJMetrics pitch), this is definitely the time to use it. After your segments are created, and you’ve calculated CLV at the individual level, compile a list of your best customers based on those furthest north of your average mark from step 1. Treat this list like gold and know that if you lose just one of these customers, you could take a major hit to growth long-term and wind up looking like this guy…

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

Step 3: Study Your List of Best Customers

Once you know exactly who these best customers are, it’s time to get cozy with them. Use quantitative data to understand the products they purchase, acquisition source, their behavior patterns on-site, etc. Likewise, don’t overlook the value of qualitative research. Take some time to survey them, pick up the phone and give them a call or even send a friendly email. Make it your top priority to understand why these customers love you so much and start thinking about how you create that same attachment in other customers. Bottom line: the more patterns that you’re able to identify in these top customers, the easier it will be to recreate this process and recruit other customers into this top tier.

Part 2: Back to Tom

Retaining Your Best Customers

To piggyback on the research from Janessa and the folks at RJMetrics, I just wanted to list a few practical tips for retaining your top customers once identified.

Tip #1: Give ‘Em VIP Treatment

We’ve had several clients here at Groove upgrade their top customers to a VIP -like group based on what we’ve been able to collectively determine best customer qualifications. Perks for these groups have included: Free Ground Shipping$5 Flat Rate Shipping w/ No Order Minimum, and Free Samples & Branded Giveaways. While these have typically been small investments from a monetary standpoint for our clients, that little “extra” always seems to garner extremely positive feedback from the customers, hence why big players like Zappos have been championing this system of surprise upgrades for years now. Think you’re too small to do the same? I challenge you to find your top few customers, offer them a perk, and then evaluate the response. While it might take some trial and error with the perks offered to see how these customers respond, it should serve as an extremely enlightening exercise.

Magento Pro Tip:Are you on Magento and have already figured out how to create new customer groups but feel limited by the promotions that you’re able to offer out-of-box? Don’t feel like doing everything manually? Consider checking out these extensions:

J2T Auto Add to Cart - allows you to automatically add products to a customers’ shopping cart based on rules and conditions that you create (i.e. a free branded giveaway if a customer logs into an account that’s part of your VIP group).

Special Promotions by Amasty - offers a ton of new promotional opportunities and rule combinations; see sample of new rules available below:

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

Tip #2: Reward Referrals

Love the idea of turning your best customers into brand advocates? Maybe they’re already referring you to friends but you need a way to reward them so that they continue to do this? Well if you’re targeting a sophisticated platform approach to this, you need a tool that can easily integrate with your website, preferably in multiple locations (i.e. product pages, CMS pages, and your post-purchase page) and offers clean social sharing to make the referral process as seamless and painless as possible. My guess is that you’ll need a third party platform for this.

Magento Pro Tip: Depending on your business model and how involved you want to get, you may want to consider a point-based reward campaign, in which case you can find excellent platforms in SweetTooth and 500friends.

Another option, that removes the whole “point system”, is a platform called FriendBuy, Why do I like these guys? Aside from partnering with some serious brands that include Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Birchbox, I’ve had an absolutely great experience implementing the platform on Magento. Setup is minimal, their template offerings are extensive, conversion reporting is great, and social sharing is made extremely simple. Check out an example of FriendBuy in action with our client Dormify (this is taken from a CMS landing page, though we do have links to the widget on product pages and their post purchase page as well):

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

Tip #3: Get Personal

My roommate has placed several orders over the last six or so months from the UK-based Men’s Clothing shop, Charles Tyrwhitt, and absolutely loves their shirts (he has roughly 10 now). With his latest purchase, he received a handwritten note from their Director of Customer Service thanking him for the order as well as his brand loyalty over 2013. The message was short but extremely effective — my roommate placed another order a week later because of how impressed he was with the level of personalization and proactive outreach. Being the eCommerce nerd that I am, I ran a search query on Google to see if this “letter” was something that Charles Tyrwhitt has done before and/or does on a recurring basis. What did I find as one of the very first images listed in results? Brace yourself…

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

My response?

Big Data Insights: Identifying & Retaining Your Best Customers

#AreYouKiddingMe? I could not have been more impressed here. The quality and level of personalization coming directly from the CEO of the company (who also doesn’t even MENTION his title) coupled with the free gift voucher is just a double whammy of epic proportions. Could he have written 100 of these same letters and just swapped out customer names? Does the gift voucher really only equate to just $13.54 in USD? Could this have actually been written by an entry-level assistant? Yes, yes, and yes. But still, come on… this is impressive. Consider writing something along the lines of the letter above and adding it to a few of your next best customer orders — that 30 minutes of your time should pay off plenty in future business.


While this is by no means a complete list of strategies for retaining some of your best customers, they’re a few that I find to be effective and relatively easy to implement. 

Janessa Lantz, Content Marketer at RJMetrics

Co-blogger Janessa Lantz is a Content Marketer at RJMetrics, an emerging SaaS business intelligence platform for eTailers, with clients that include Bonobos, Fab, and Threadless. In her spare time, she’s usually reading, napping, or delivering spontaneous lectures on her current topics of interest. 


Last week, we introduced our Strategic Thinking series with a blog post from Listrak Senior Solutions Consultant Julie Wahl on maximizing your modal popup. Today, Julie shares additional tips for acquiring new subscribers.


While our experience with hundreds of retailers clearly shows that there is no single better way to acquire new subscribers than a modal popup or lightbox, there are several other tactics that should be considered to complement your modal efforts.


Sweepstakes work best if promoted via your modal popup, and if done correctly, can work well across the board for many types of brands. It’s important to note that your prize should be something from your brand or a complementary brand to ensure that you attract subscribers that are most likely to remain engaged long-term.  

Be sure to take advantage of the viral potential of a sweepstakes by encouraging subscribers to share details with friends and family in exchange for additional entries. In addition, we’ve seen many clients have great success by partnering with like brands to drive engagement and to get access to additional subscribers.

Point of Sale acquisition

This is an amazing opportunity for any brand with brick and mortar locations. In fact POS acquisition can be up to two times that of website signup.

To be successful, however, it is crucial that you train sales associates to ask for email addresses. We recommend giving them a reason (offering e-receipts is a great one) because incentivizing them instead can often lead to inaccurate entries.  

Be sure to follow up each POS acquisition with a welcome series email campaign that verifies the address and tries to get the shopper to convert in more than one channel by introducing her to your brand’s online shopping experience.

Here are a few other tactics to round out your acquisition strategy:

Social signup - Integrate with the Twitter Lead Generation Card and leverage your Facebook presence by offering signup on your page.

Online Checkout – Optimize this prime opportunity to capture email opt-ins from your valuable customers. Consider how your can maximize this part of the funnel for email acquisition, then build a strategy around it.

SMS – Mobile acquisition - Post signs in-store to text for a special offer and collect mobile and email signup together.

Paid search – Consider including signup in paid search results (this feature must be turned on by Google).

Back in Stock Alerts – Email acquisition is a bonus of offering this solution. Find out how Back in Stock Alerts work in Listrak’s latest whitepaper.

Our Popular Bootcamp Series Continues in Chicago

Next up in our popular bootcamp series will be a full-day Omnichannel Marketing Workshop being offered in Chicago the day before IRCE. 

Retailers are invited to join us to learn how to create personalized experiences throughout the customer journey using 360-degree customer insights and predictive analytics. 

Sessions include: 

Increasing Awareness and Acquisition the Omnichannel Way

Overcome Your Abandonment Issues: Remarketing Trends You Can Take to the Bank

Yes, You Can Make Monday through Mobile and Social Marketing

Post Purchase Power Hour: Building Trust and Loyalty

Why Algorithms are Better than Analytics 

The Experts Weigh In on Privacy and Deliverability 

Registration is open and space is limited. 

Always On: Connecting with Mobile Shoppers

Your customers are always connected through their mobile devices, and more than half of all emails are being opened on smartphones. Studies show that if your emails are opened on a mobile device and aren’t optimized to render and perform well, however, the majority of your customers will delete them.

In a webinar scheduled for April 16, 1 p.m. ET, Listrak design expert Aaron Pearson will join Listrak CEO Ross Kramer to discuss trends and best practices for responsive email design so you can be sure your emails work on every device. You’ll see real campaigns from retailers that have tested and mastered this tactic.

Registration is open