We’re well into the New Year with stores prepping spring sales to shower shoppers with discounts — still, it’s weird seeing mannequins and models in shorts while we’re still getting blasted with frigid weather.
Regardless, while we’re trying to think of anything but winter, there is still plenty to be learned by looking back at the recent November – December busy season, and trying to understand the driving forces behind the biggest U.S. online shopping season on record.
We recently published the Custora 2014 Holiday E-commerce Report that details many of the important trends from the past season. Often, marketing teams tell us that they wish they could hear from other people in the field, exchange stories, and hear about which marketing campaigns are actually working. So, in addition to releasing our report, based on data from real retailers, we partnered with Bounce Exchange to host a webinar: 2014 Holiday E-commerce Recap + Tips for 2015 from Marketing Leaders
The webinar reviews the big stats from the holidays, you’ll find top line numbers from the holidays (for more 2014 recap numbers check out the full report) and different ways the best marketing teams have used those observations to inform their plans for 2015. Here are three major themes for better e-commerce in the year ahead (watch the full webinar below).
1. Aggregate data for more nuanced customer insight
Perhaps the most important task for marketing teams in 2015 is leveraging their existing customer data. Most retailers still have their data in silos: loyalty program data in one place, e-commerce transactions in another, direct mailer information in yet another, and so on. When data from every bucket interacts, retailers can switch from an online sales focus to “How can we connect with customers, regardless of where they want to shop with us?”
Often, marketing teams think they know their customers, but after aggregating their data (and incorporating additional analysis, such as predictive Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)) they find new insights. One retailer assumed their best customers would come from urban areas like Brooklyn (and spent their marketing budget accordingly), but after getting a more holistic view of their customer base, actually found large pockets of high value customers in more suburban areas.
Similarly, they thought their top customers shopped for jeans and accessories, but ended up seeing that high value customers were more likely to buy sweaters and knits. By expanding these sorts of analyses, they were able to better divide their resources to make the most impact.
2. Acquisition: Customer Lifetime Value analysis is the new gold standard
Acquisition is on every retail team’s radar, but in 2015, top teams are getting scientific about it. Rather than judging acquisition channels by conversion or first purchase revenue, leading retailers are using Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) analysis to inform their strategy.
BaubleBar found that even though Facebook ads typically drove purchases of a lower amount in comparison to other marketing channels, customers who did make purchases through Facebook (even small ones) went on to make many more repeat purchases (and were more valuable customers) over the long run. Rather than looking at first purchase revenue and deciding that social was a bad investment, they shifted their thinking to CLV, and thought about what would be best for their business long-term.
3. Leveraging predictive analytics is the key to more personalized (read: effective) email marketing
The era of “Batch and Blast” emails is waning — as we saw this holiday season, the biggest promotion doesn’t always win. Customers are looking for the most relevant content, and for retailers, that means personalization is key.
Using predictive analytics, Backcountry changed their email program, improving the messages they sent to customers by better understanding what those folks were likely to want to buy in the future and sending messages accordingly. By grouping customers by these “predictive product affinity personas,” and engaging those groups with different content, the Backcountry marketing team can get the right content in front of the right customer at the right time.
Given the exponential rate of change for e-commerce tools and strategies,, marketing teams have a lot to think about in 2015. E-commerce revenue has consistently grown year over year, and it looks like 2015 will be no exception. The retail teams that will benefit most from this growth will be the ones who use their data to better connect with customers across all fronts.