CommerceNext IRL brought the return of our ecommerce and marketing conference for retail and direct-to-consumer brands. It was an amazing two days of reconnecting, networking and most importantly, sharing all things marketing and ecommerce. ICYMI, we recapped some of the key themes below.
While the world is starting to move towards a new normal, retail faces new challenges and our community definitely had some thoughts on how to address them. Here are four main topics that arose from this year’s marketing conference (you can also watch session videos on our Youtube channel).
1. Privacy Changes are Driving Shifts in Marketing Strategy
With channels like Facebook and Google impacted by targeting and reporting limitations stemming from industry wide privacy changes, marketers have to reconsider how they spend their budget. At our marketing conference CommerceNext IRL, Tailored Brands, Tapestry and many other brands recommend pulling back on some spending in these channels and casting a wider net to balance spend across the marketing funnel.
Other channels to utilize from Wise, Athletic Greens, The Farmer’s Dog and Made In:
1. Podcasts. Why?
- High engagement rates, especially when ads are host-read
- Similar to influencer partnerships, podcast ads are personal and authentic to their audience
- Measurement: can use tracking URLs and codes to estimate impact
2. TV. Still more to do here!
- Pro Tip: create a buying plan across all TV inventory (not just remnant) markets to mitigate the risk of inventory unpredictability. It’s the only way to scale in TV
- Measurement: can use local market buys to test incrementality before scaling in the channel.
3. Print. When should you use it?
- Good for brands that are looking to tell rich brand/product stories and show a larger product selection
- Use case: increase awareness of new product categories, contact buyers who are not actively engaged in email
- Measurement: can use list match backs to understand the full impact of print on your marketing performance
Increased Focus on Retention
With customer acquisition becoming increasingly more expensive, it’s time to lean into retention marketing. The best way to improve retention is through creating value for your customers, which increases loyalty and helps brands collect more first-party or zero-party data. Brands like Yotpo, Mented Cosmetics and Tapestry shared a few golden ways to collect this data while also creating a deeper value exchange economy with your customers:
- Loyalty Programs—it’s the easiest way to create value for customers. You can give customers exclusive first access to products, access to limited-availability products during the current supply chain crisis, invitations to events that are program-exclusive, etc. Customers can also bring you value, through incentivizing referrals or submitting reviews.
- SMS Marketing—With over 98% open rates and high engagement rates, it’s a channel that customers want to be a part of. SMS allows your brand to segment customers, personalize content and ask for feedback. Over 89% of consumers are interested in being able to text with their favorite brand and build a personal relationship.
- Customer Experience is King—All channels have the opportunity to create a negative, neutral or positive impression on the customer—create a plan around the encounter that you want customers to have.
- Focus on Customer Lifetime Value—Play the odds. Rather than chasing the highest-value cohorts, create meaningful touchpoints that will let customers naturally migrate between cohorts after increasing their LTV.
All attribution tools have their pros and cons, and no single method is perfect. Be careful about what you use attribution for—it can give you this illusion that you know what you’re doing but is not always accurate. Within and Casper suggest combining different methodologies to create the right blend for your brand’s goals. Mixing tools like incrementality testing, multi-touch attribution and media mix modeling will be more useful.
To unlock measurement, follow these steps:
- Align your org goals/KPIs
- Select the right tools for your marketing program
- Setup with the right internal or external team to guide you
- Leverage insights and continue reassessing your attribution tools
2. The Ecommerce Experience is More Important Ever
Regardless of if your brand is digital-first or physical-first, the ecommerce experience is essential for brands to succeed. Here’s how a few brands have positioned their ecommerce experiences at our marketing conference:
– WW took experiences that customers already loved (weekly meetings), and transformed them into digital ones (weekly meetings over Zoom) to create something even better, while keeping the core of the experience which is community and connection.
– EXPRESS partnered with Stylitcs to create a stronger ecommerce experience in fashion by creating interactive shoppable outfits. By doing this, they doubled conversion rates and increased in AOV by 60%.
– THE YES, a digitally native brand, uses their yes/no shopping experience to collect more data about their customer and give them the personalized experience that they are searching for. They’ve had over 100K+ downloads since launching last year and tracked over 8 million yes’s and no’s.
– Coach leans into their omnichannel to integrate physical and digital experiences—they’ve launched store influencer programs to leverage their internal community across in-person and online platforms.
3. The DTC Model Continues to Gain Market Share
When it comes to building a DTC brand or transitioning to DTC, understanding your customer is key. Fender saw an opportunity to drive new growth through building a community with customers, so they launched Fender Play, an app for learning to play guitar, bass and ukulele. During the pandemic when people were picking up new at-home hobbies, Fender leaned into Fender Play with a free 3-month trial. Within a month, they had 1 million people sign up for the free trial. Since then, they’ve shifted their roadmap and see the high value in focusing on building long-lasting relationships with customers. For other non-traditionally DTC brands, DTC can serve as an initiative that helps build out the data pool to understand customers and innovation, and amplify personalization and targeting.
Brooklinen has had success by creating a product that consumers want, and listening to them in developing new ones. Customers are at the heart of DTC, and to convince them that your brand is worth buying, you need to present your value proposition and have a desirable product. No matter the cost, low or high, consumers won’t buy your product if they don’t believe it will bring them value. The benefit of the DTC model is the proximity to the customer. It’s important to use that direct relationship to listen and evolve the brand.
4. Today’s Marketing Challenges Require Rethinking the Org/KPIs
With complex marketing challenges come complex solutions. In rethinking the org structure, what came up over and over at our marketing conference is the need to have cross functional teams aligned around the same goals. Find ways to collaborate across functions (think: marketing, digital and product working together) and build out balanced teams.
Structuring the org is a huge piece of dealing with marketing challenges, but useless if everyone in the org isn’t fully aligned on goals, KPIs and even culture/purpose. Teams that have conflicting KPIs aren’t able to work together properly, so take the time to think through what common purpose can help collaborative teams push forward.
At Crocs, the marketing and digital teams have been able to successfully collaborate to drive tremendous DTC growth—while each team has their own KPIs, the brand as a whole is consumer driven rather than channel driven. They lean into social media to connect with customers and listen to their needs and also openly share insights across departments and functions. To help facilitate alignment and agility, they also create small cross functional pods to empower teams to make decisions and move quickly in solving problems or launching new initiatives.
Organizations are nothing without their people—focusing on your culture and team relationships is also a key piece of dealing with today’s marketing challenges. JustFab took time to reflect on internal team values to understand what they could reflect back out into the world and share with their customers. Not only did this help the team bond, it also generated new marketing campaigns rooted in culture. At Poshmark, they encourage new leaders to take the time to get to know people’s strengths and opportunities for growth, allowing them to develop alongside you.
These top takeaways certainly don’t exhaust all the learnings from this year’s marketing conference. If you’re interested in diving deeper, watch the session videos up on our Youtube channel (and don’t forget to subscribe)!
P.S. Save the date for the 2022 CommerceNext marketing conference—June 21-22, 2022!