In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Customers are already telling brands what they want through data, it’s up to marketers to tap into those insights to drive meaningful engagement online and offline, Dover Saddlery’s marketing chief claims.
Dover Saddlery sells horse care, riding and equestrian attire products. Speaking at the ADMA Global Forum in Sydney, the retailer’s VP of marketing, Lorelle Carpenter, noted the significant shift it’s seeing in customer purchasing behaviour away from phone and catalogue-based interactions, to in-store and Web channels. The retailer has been steadily building its physical footprint off the back of geographic data about its customers, and now operates 32 stores across the US.
According to Carpenter, the company has tripled revenues from US$40 million to $120m thanks to omni-channel marketing and an emphasis on personalisation, relevance and uniting offline data sets with online data.
Examples of action-oriented customer data identifiers being tracked by Dover Saddlery include in-store sales data, website visits, abandoned carts, whether a customer has signed up to email program, product reviews, equestrian club participation, magazine subscriptions, horse show competitions, attendance to store events, catalogue requests, survey completion, social media posting, and trade show visitation.
“These are all action oriented and give us an understanding of the recency of the customer’s engagement with our brand,” Carpenter said.
To illustrate the data used to inform marketing communication, Carpenter said the retailer has taken the recency, frequency and monetary value (RFM) model used to segment its direct mail and catalogue activity and bundled it with intelligence around product category, proximity to store, order channel, engagement recency, source of customer, device, email clicks, age and gender, buyer life stage and loyalty program membership.
“Seventy eight per cent of people surveyed are more likely to purchase from retailers if they provide offers targeted to their interests, wants or needs,” she pointed out. “Buyers want us to give them relevant offers, and that is what makes our marketing really tick.”
Data is actively being applied to make marketing more relevant, Carpenter continued. For example, the way Dover targets a customer who is interested in dressage is by popping up relevant dressage products when they search online. If they’ve abandoned a cart, a trigger-based series of emails will highlight dressage products or in-store events, to persuade the customer back.
“We have thought a lot more about the customer journey over the last couple of years and how to describe that customer journey with data,” she said. “It’s about marketing to audiences and recognising people travel multiple paths to their next order.”
New buyers, for instance, will receive a welcome pack with gift and content that explains services, whereas those who’ve placed series recent orders receive a thank-you message, order status updates and product review requests. More event-based, action-oriented marketing is then used for customers close to a physical store.
But Carpenter suggested this kind of targeting is table stakes for modern marketing teams, and that the impetus is on Dover Saddlery to further the customer experience through data. This has seen the retailer look to onboarding in order to bridge the online and offline gap.
“We’re looking to matching identifiers gathered from offline data sets to retrieve the same customers in an online audience,” Carpenter said. To help, Dover has extended its partnership with tag and data management vendor, Tealium, and is using its AudienceStream product to marry up data sets.
Initially, Tealium’s technology was used to power trigger-based email programs and all data required for that, Carpenter said. Dover then started taking online session data and put it in its marketing data warehouse to use for offline activity. It’s also uploading offline data to be used online.
“We used all of this data to inform marketing and run some tests,” she said.
The first test was service messaging online that used the customer journey data to personalise assets. New traffic for example, saw a satisfaction guarantee ad, while repeat buyers who had a branded VISA card were served up ads outlining those benefits. A wishlist holder received information related to that feature, while non-credit card users got an application call for the branded VISA card.
Dover also replaced static banners with a three-rotation carousel, personalised based on a customer’s riding discipline, the week’s best email offer, and product category affinity. The combination of personalised ads and carousel created a 5 per cent visitor lift through an increasing conversion rate, Carpenter said.
The second test saw Dover personalise its online store based on the top four categories browsed online, united with offline data on categories purchased in-store. The objective was getting customers to their favourite categories quicker. This saw revenue improve per visitor by 5 per cent through an increase in average order value, she said.
Next priorities for Dover are additional homepage improvements and more personalised navigation, cart and checkout experiences, product highlights that go deeper into products rather than just the category, geotargeting messaging based on proximity to store or local climate, a customer’s brand affinities, and social interactions.
“We’re also looking forward to deeper integration with offline marketing to further integrate audiences created in AudienceStream and use those for catalogue marketing and direct mail contacts,” Carpenter said. “We’re also replacing static marketing emails with more dynamic and targeted campaigns based on relevant customer data and in general, using data to better segment digital with our offline.”
Based on Dover’s learning so far, Carpenter said it’s clear marketing messaging must be meaningful for customers.
“They’re already telling you what they want and need through data,” she said.
Her second piece of advice was to capture every data point you can. Brands also need to marry data from all sources in order to deliver better experiences on all channels and devices, and recognise the critical points along the customer journey for communication.
“And make sure you test,” she added.
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