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  • August 7, 2008

Takeaways from eTail 2008

ETail East was earlier this week in Washington, DC. Here are just a few of the great insights and learnings from the event:

Email acquisition:
>>Newsletter sign-ups increased 10-fold when the size of the sign-up box was increased to make it more visible, said Julie Space, VP of marketing and the customer experience at BabyAge.
>>“In-store email capture is extremely valuable” because it converts store shoppers into multichannel shoppers, said Denise Sarkees, Circuit City’s senior manager of digital direct marketing.
>>Timelife.com has improved email capture over the phone by moving email collection up in the script, changing the wording of the request, and changing the response if customers ask why they want their email address, saying it’s to send them order and shipping confirmation emails and to send them free shipping and other offers. They now do what Brad Sockloff, their VP of ecommerce, called “presumptive email collection,” which means that they just ask for it without explanation along with the customer’s name and mailing address.

Abandoned shopping cart emails:
>>BabyAge built an abandoned cart triggered email in two hours. To avoid seeming like Big Brother, the email doesn’t say what was in your cart. It uses the subject line “Did You Forget Something?” This email offers the shopper a free shipping deal that’s not tied to what was in the cart, so shoppers often use it to buy something else. Space said that this triggered email outperforms their regular promotional emails by 10-to-1.
>>Redcats USA, which operates Chadwick’s and other apparel retailers, has found that triggered emails work better than regular promotional emails, citing abandoned cart emails among those. They implemented abandoned cart emails a year ago and they don’t include an offer in those emails to incent shoppers; they just remind the shopper about the item in their cart to avoid training shoppers to abandon carts in order to receive a discount. Their shopping carts are persistent for 30 days.

Multichannel influences:
>>Timelife.com backs up their TV ads with emails. But if the TV ad doesn’t do well, then it means that an email promoting the same product won’t do well either so they change the email to promote something else. Timelife.com also uses Google Trends to help determine which products to promote.
>>Circuit City uses the most popular search terms from their website to determine the content of their emails.
>>“For us it’s not about channel migration,” said Chris Poad, head of ecommerce for OTTO, adding that incenting cross channel shopping doesn’t permanently change customer behavior.
>>Brad Wolansky, VP of ecommerce for Orvis, said that while they try to be channel agnostic, they see the value of incenting store visits. So if a customer lives within 50 miles of a store, they’ll send them store-only deals sometimes.

Segmentation:
>>Consider segmenting out those customers that review products and treating them differently, said Milton Pappas, EVP of corporate marketing and ecommerce for Redcats USA. He wasn’t aware of any retailer doing that, but supposed that targeting these brand influencers could be powerful.

Lifetime value:
>>BabyAge has a 3-year view and 3-month rolling view of the lifetime value of their email subscribers.

Email’s value:
>>“The vast, vast majority of our [web] traffic comes from email,” said Kevin Ertell, SVP of e-business for Borders, which has 28 million email subscribers.

Holiday season:
>>Cutco-Vector runs a fall sale and then follows up with purchasers with an incentive to buy a gift.

Email testing:
>>Timelife.com tests day of week and time of day, among other variables. Once you’ve tested it, “test it again,” says Sockloff. Sometimes the second test will give you a different result.
>>“Every campaign that goes out the door has a subject line test,” said Circuit City’s Sarkees. “You can’t build a business case to get more money if you don’t test.”

Email address as user name for logins:
>>Geoff Galat, VP of marketing and product strategy for Tealeaf, advised retailers to have their marketers write their error messages, not IT staff. For instance, when users are prompted to enter their email address as their user name and that address doesn’t match up with anything in your database, instead of saying “Invalid email address,” say: “I’m sorry but that’s not the email address that we have on file for you. Would you like to try another email address?” Galat says that sometimes people forget whether their user name is their personal or business email address and that language like that helps them remember that.

Send to a friend:
>>When Borders relaunched their website two months ago, they added send-to-a-friend functionality to their wish lists, their book reviews and other articles, and their product pages.

Video:
>>“Video is a huge part of what we do,” said Mike Madaio, chief internet architect for QVC. “People who watch video tend to convert better.”

Web 2.0:
>>“I’ve seen marketers get distracted by shiny objects time and time again,” said Barbara Mousigian, senior director of ecommerce at CDW, citing blogs as an example of a shiny object, a fancy tool that’s not generating enough of a payback to justify implementing.
>>When asked how retailers should process and react to negative feedback on blogs and social networks, Jack Jia, the CEO of Baynote, replied: How do you know that what people say on blogs and social networks is statistically relevant?
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