One-to-one Marketing: Engaging the Omnichannel Consumer
Modern consumers are more educated about your products, more likely to use multiple devices to shop, and are almost always connected to the Internet.
Shoppers visit ecommerce sites to check out ratings and reviews, compare prices, and view ads as often as they do to purchase products. Across retail industries, segments, and audiences, shoppers are more tech savvy and more engaged with their favorite brands before and after the sales transaction.
And they don’t feel limited by device. A shopper’s decision process could include a trip to a brick-and-mortar retailer, a phone call with customer support, viewing product images on a tablet, and completing a purchase on a desktop computer.
For retailers, each of these options is a channel. Shoppers who navigate multiple channels with ease are omnichannel consumers. With multiple touch points to engage consumers with your brand and technology to automate personalized communications with shoppers, you can generate higher revenue within a single, existing bucket: email marketing.
To start, much of what shoppers do, we can measure. We know the product pages they’ve visited. We know, generally, where they live. We know the items they’ve purchased and we have hints about their interests, gender, and income.
It’s big data. And here’s where the magic of that data comes in: You can create and automate highly personalized messaging to any of your target audiences – down to individual shoppers, based on their past shopping behaviors. Shoppers love it because the communications are timely and relevant.
Welcome to your next big business opportunity: One-to-one marketing.
One-to-one Opportunity: Abandoned Browses
Most shoppers leave an ecommerce site without adding products to a cart. Creating automated browse recovery emails can entice these shoppers back, to complete the purchase. The emails are highly targeted because the offers are for the products the shopper viewed while browsing and they produce much higher returns than traditional emails.
Key factors to consider when setting up triggered, browse-recovery emails are:
- Strategies for capturing shoppers’ email addresses,
- Content and incentives in the email,
- Timing of the emails,
- Number of emails,
- Frequency — how to handle multiple browse sessions.
Case Study: Abandoned Browses
Brooks Sports is a running shoes and apparel company. Brooks believes that athletic consumers are not always in “buy mode.” In an effort to prompt re-purchasing and to educate customers about new products, Brooks added a browse-triggered email program for shoppers who had viewed a product that included an image of the browsed item. The result? The open rate was 61 percent, with a 24 percent click rate, a 7 percent conversion rate, and a return of $1.44 per email.
One-to-one Opportunity: Abandoned Carts
Forrester Research estimates that 87 percent of consumers place items in a shopping cart and never complete the purchase. There are multiple reasons for this. Certainly there are roadblocks that prompt shoppers to leave. These include required registration, too many pages to navigate, confusion, shipping policies, and security concerns.
Also, today’s shoppers often use carts to store products, to view and purchase later. They don’t necessarily abandon a shopping session as much as delay the purchase.
Regardless, an automatic, triggered abandoned-cart email program can be highly effective. Emails should include information on the products that are in the shopper’s cart.
Key considerations for an abandoned cart email program include:
- Mobile optimization. Most recipients will open the emails on their phones. Make sure your site is mobile friendly.
- Cart expiration. Provide ample time for recipients to complete their purchase before their cart sessions expire.
- Timing. Sending the first email within 24 to 48 hours works best for most retailers.
- Number of emails. How often and how many?
- Content. Remind shoppers of the products in their carts.
- Subject lines. Link the message to the abandoned cart; consider incentives and a sense of urgency.
Case Study: Abandoned Carts
World Kitchen is a leading online retailer of cooking supplies. With a broad range of choices, many shoppers placed items in their carts but then failed to complete the purchase. Until recently, World Kitchen had no mechanism for bringing back those prospects.World Kitchen’s response was to create a three-message cart-recovery email program. Within three months of launching it, the company recovered nearly 2,000 abandoned carts, with total revenue 35 times the cost to implement the application that made it possible.
One-to-one Opportunity: Product Recommendations
Product recommendation emails are another opportunity for one-to-one engagement. The first step is to decide what to base the product recommendations on. Is it purchase history, click behavior, email opens, browse activity, or all of these?
Consider, also, what will trigger product recommendations. Examples include:
- Lifecycle messages, such as a purchase anniversary, an email-subscription anniversary, or a customer’s birthday.
- Cart abandonment messages. Recommend items that are complementary to what’s in the shopper’s cart.
- Transactional messages, such as order and shipping confirmations.
Case Study: Product Recommendations
Men’s fashion retailer Paul Fredrick wanted to create more meaningful engagement with customers about its tailored clothing line. Caitlin Flemming, the brand’s CRM-email manager, paired Browse Recovery and Recommendations Premium to automate the creation of highly-relevant product content for each contact.Success was immediate. The open rate is 130 percent higher than standard promotional emails, click rates are 218 percent higher, conversion rates are 75 percent higher, average order value is 46 percent higher, and revenue per email is 15-times higher. More importantly, the programs aren’t eating into the revenue: The annualized return on investment for the two additions is 30-times. And the emails triggered lower-than-industry-average unsubscribes — a critical metric to monitor when launching a personalization campaign.
One-to-one Opportunity: Transactional Emails
Order, shipping, and other transactional messages are an essential part of successful ecommerce email programs. But merchants often overlook them as revenue-generating options.
Important factors to consider when using transactional messages for promotion are: placement of the content and the types of products to promote.
Many marketers prefer placing the promotion to the right of the transactional message, instead of below it, as it keeps the promotional content near the top, without dominating the transactional content.
In terms of what products to promote, consider accessories or complementary items that customers often forget about, such as batteries, memory cards, or related apparel items, such as pants to pair with a sports coat. Other possibilities include gifts and products from the same categories.
Be cautious of offering a discount in transactional emails. The recipients have just purchased products from you at, possibly, full price. Instead of a discount, consider offering free shipping or other complimentary service.
Remember, transactional content must be the primary focus of the email. It’s best to use the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of the content is transactional.
One-to-one Opportunity: Post Purchase
Only one-third of ecommerce customers, on average, will place a second order in the next twelve months. A good way to get more repeat customers is a targeted, post-purchase campaign.
A post-purchase series could consist of, say, three email messages. The first could thank the customer for her purchase and offer a coupon for a repeat order. The coupon could be for related products to her first order, or related categories.
The second message could express hope that the customer is enjoying her purchase and encourage her to share the experience on social media. User-generated content on social media is powerful and can produce additional customers.
The third post-purchase message could encourage the customer to post a review of a product on your website. You could list the products in the email and link directly to their product page, to facilitate the review. You could also use this email to encourage the customer from the first message, if she hasn’t already done so.
In Bronto’s experience, post-purchase emails are among the highest converters for one-to-one email engagement.
Case Study: Post Purchase
Shar Music is the recognized market leader for the string music community in the U.S., providing violin-family instruments and accessories. Musicians know that they should change their strings every six to eight months, but many either forget or don’t replace them as often as necessary. Shar wanted an automated program to remind customers when it’s time to reorder.
Shar created a dynamic email template that populates the subscriber’s first name, product name, and instrument, as well as a friendly reminder to replace the strings. A trigger automatically sends the email when a subscriber’s last order date reaches the six-month mark.
The automated program has performed well, averaging a 40 percent open rate, a 12 percent click rate, and a 21 percent conversion rate.
Importance of Testing
It’s critical to test every one-to-one engagement program. Test content, offers, incentives, timing, frequency, and subject lines. Test short versus long copy. Test bullet points versus paragraphs. Test days of the week — Monday versus Tuesday, for example. Adopt a continuos policy of testing, measuring, tweaking, and improving.
For abandoned browse and abandoned cart emails, for example, A/B test when the initial emails are sent. Test send times, incentives, and how often you send messages. Monitor the difference in opens, clicks, and conversions.
Continual, incremental testing and improving are key to growing sales.
Oracle’s Bronto Software provides a cloud-based commerce marketing automation platform to mid-market and enterprise organizations. Oracle’s Bronto is the number one ranked email marketing provider to the global Internet Retailer Top 1000, with a client roster of leading brands, including Vince Camuto, Lucky Brand, Theory, Björn Borg, Ashley Homestore and Christopher & Banks. For more information, visit Bronto.com.