Lessons from the real world: Five best practices for driving sustainable growth from personalization

After spending many years as the VP of Marketing at one of the leading personalization technology providers, I have a pretty good understanding of the benefits and limitations of personalization. And while there are very clear advantages for retailers that adopt a well-designed personalization strategy, I worry about the personalization bubble that has been created. There is irrational exuberance in the marketplace today, an almost mystical belief in the impact that personalization technology will have on a business.

Messages from analysts and thought leaders are fueling this fire. Here are excerpts from an email I just received promoting an upcoming analyst webinar on personalization—sound familiar?

“Personalization is being redefined as individualization—structuring interaction, functionality, and content around the real time individual needs of customers.”

“Discover why individualization, not segmentation, is becoming the new standard for personalization.”

The implication is that with the right technology investments, brands won’t need to do any heavy lifting in marketing. They won’t need to dig deep to understand the differences across customer segments, they won’t need to develop personas, and they won’t need creative breakthroughs to propel their business. Just leave it to the algorithms to crunch the customer data and deliver the perfect message to each consumer at just the right moment. Sounds like magic, right?

As my mother always said, “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, unless it’s me.”

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Using the Science of Persuasion—and Advanced Segmentation—to Boost Online Sales

Last Tuesday was a snow day for most of us in the Northeast, and I used that time to finally get around to reading a marketing book that was recommended highly to me. The book is “Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini, published in 1984. This social psychology classic uncovers the secrets of getting people to take action and contains principles that can be used by retailers today to boost online sales. 

Dr. Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University, lays out six proven methods based on the science of persuasion that can get people to say yes to almost anything:

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Three Steps to Better Customer Insights with Guest Speaker Brandon Purcell of Forrester

Just as the 1960s were called the age of distribution, and the 1990s labeled the age of information, the 2010s have been dubbed “the age of the customer.” In this age, companies are reinventing themselves to better understand and serve customers who are becoming increasingly powerful.

As a side effect of the age of the customer, companies have been gathering massive amounts of data. While this data can take many forms (e.g. social, behavioral, mobile, sensor) and can differ from company to company, most of this new data has at least one thing in common: it’s not being used.

We work with smart people at some of the best companies in the world every day to tackle this challenge, but we can never pass on an opportunity to open the conversation to others. In that vein, we invited customer insights expert, Brandon Purcell from Forrester, to be a guest presenter at our webinar on the use of analytics to better leverage customer data.

We covered a wide range of topics with Brandon from fancy french restaurants, to Star Wars, and even Google Glass, but the biggest takeaway was these three steps to start using your customer data more effectively. (you can watch the full conversation below)
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Learn from Crocs’ email promotions strategy on our upcoming webinar

We’ll be joined by Crocs’ Kelsey Vendetti who runs their email program and will be talking us through their e-commerce team’s promotional strategy. You’ll hear a step-by-step rundown of their different promotional email programs, from the planning stage all the way through to the results data for a few recent campaigns.

Crocs’ marketing team offers promotions several times per month to their customers, yet recognizes the importance of targeting these promotions to those customers who need the extra push towards purchase, and varying these promotions to keep customers interested.

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Tim Grace on Building a Fast-Growth Online Tie Shop

Tim Grace, VP eCommerce at The Tie Bar, talks about using data and optimizing online marketing to grow a successful e-commerce brand.

Tim Grace The Tie Bar

We recently published The Custora E-Commerce Pulse High-Growth Fashion Index: A new report analyzing 20+ fashion and lifestyle retailers that grew their online revenue and transactions the most in 2014. Our goal was to understand what makes these high performance retailers different from everyone else, resulting in a growth rate that is almost double the industry average. Some of the findings are straight-forward — e.g. using data effectively is a must — while others are more surprising: e.g. for the best retailers, 27% of new customers make a second purchase within 60 days of their first purchase. You can download the full report here.

Recently, we hosted a webinar with one of the brands featured in the report. Tim Grace, VP eCommerce at The Tie Bar, went “on the record” and shared advice and tips on building and growing a successful e-commerce brand.

Below are highlights from the interview, lightly edited for brevity and clarity. You can listen to the entire interview or get the accompanying deck (PDF) below.
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