How Total Tools overhauled its omnichannel marketing

Marketing overhaul results in a 1100 per cent growth in online

Total Tools, a professional tool retailer, admits it was a little behind the eight ball when it come to marketing. But since overhauling strategy over the last two years, the company has caught up to the tune of a 1100 per cent growth in online.

While tradies may not be typically known for an appreciation of omnichannel customer experience, Total Tools knows differentiation from a retail perspective lies in the ability to deliver personalised engagement. 

Total Tools was founded in 1989 and has 81 stores nation-wide, along with an online store with more than 20,000 products. But two-and-a-half years ago, the team faced an impasse, with marketing struggling, siloed information and communications simply not delivering the experience customers expected.

Total Tools chose Emarsys as a way of building capability that enabled customers to move seamlessly across channels, leveraging digital to drive incremental store sales, and vice versa. It's now looking to use the platform to go even further down the personalisation path.

“At Total Tools, we know tools and pride ourselves on offering tailored product recommendations, professional advice and service with knowledge unrivalled in the industry. As such, we’re always looking for innovative ways to improve our customers’ experiences,” Total Tools chief marketing officer, Darren Gunton, told CMO.

“We knew we needed a new marketing platform to support our growth. However, we didn’t want to implement a platform only to find we also needed to invest in additional resources and tools to make it work.

“Over the last two-and-a-half years, we have been going on a journey to modernise our marketing. We launched our website in mid 2017, and a loyalty program, and really re-engineered the way we talk to our customers to be more omnichannel-focused, and to give them the opportunity to shop with us any way they wish to at anytime."

Off the back of these efforts, the online business has grown by more than 1000 per cent in two years.

"Our loyalty database was dysfunctional, but we re-engineered it and freed up the data, and it’s really enabled us to talk to our customers in personalised way," Gunton continued. He claimed Total Tool's loyalty program is supported by about 60 per cent of all tradies in Australia to date and expected to have between 90 and 100 per cent of all tradies on the database based on growth projections.

Foundational change

Previously, Total Tools was using an Adobe platform to manage customer and digital engagement. After a year-long evaluation of other platforms the team chose to switch to Emarsys. Today, the retail marketing platform, including its customer data platform and marketing automation tools, collects and merges CRM data from customers in one central location.

As a result of having a single customer view, Total Tools will be able to personalise communications across multiple channels including in-store, email, Facebook, Google and its Web platform. Additionally, Total Tools will leverage artificial intelligence-powered insights to deliver product recommendations and reach customers when they are likely to be most responsive, increasing return on investment.

“Over the past two years, we've done a lot of work on really implementing lifecycle stage personalisation, segmentation, frequency, and new device communication,” Gunton said.

“We have to be able to continue the conversation with our customers. We are really looking at the behavioural journey. We need to be able to understand what customers are at what side of that journey and really be there for them in whatever channels they choose, and make products available to purchase in whatever channel they want, in real time."

Total Tools has more than 20,000 online SKUs and about 60,000 available to customers in total. "So you need to present the perfect solution for the customer when they need it," Gunton commented.

“We need to give the customer the opportunity to purchase in an omnichannel fashion and discover in an omnichannel fashion. Previously we were operating well, but in a multi-channel way. We weren’t coordinating the communication, we were dysfunctional, and we've got more work to do with Emarsys. That's why we chose it."

Gunton highlighted the ability to personalise at scale without having to bring in a mass amount of staff to operate the platform as a key reason for its decision to go with Emarsys. Total Tools maintains a marketing team of about 40 people.

"We can't afford to have another team just to run a martech platform," Gunton said.

The overarching ambition is to respond to customers in an agile fashion and in real time, in the communication they're using.

"We know that they've jumped onto Facebook, and we can go back to them with an email or an SMS, depending what channel works for them. And we can change up the offer based on their level of propensity to buy and react to price promotions. So that's all the stuff we're building right now," Gunton said. 

But already, email has gone from one of Total Tools' least responsive channels to being its main channel of communication. Open rates for emails have tripled, and click-through rates are up eight-fold on two years ago. Social media has also gone from being less than 1 per cent effective, to being around 15 per cent effective.

Total Tools strives to understand its efforts by measuring buyer behaviour every day. "We do that in simple ways like using Google Analytics and last-click attribution, but we also do it by surveying our customers every single day we do a survey and measure Net Promoter Score and get some of that feedback," Gunton explained.

“The combination of everything offers consistent effectiveness when we do certain campaigns. So for example, we target by segments, and have multiple segmentation methods. If we target a carpenter, we know they have a high propensity to buy certain tools, and we can go out with the right tools to them. In this way we have a much better success rate.

“And we now take it that next step to make us really the pinnacle of trade purchasing but also communication with our customers. There's not many retailers doing it the way we want to do it.”

Total Tools hopes long-term to drill down to the level of greeting a customer in-store and having predictive ability at point-of-sale to show what that customer has recently been browsing online.

“It really reminds me of my great grandmother, who had a corner store and knew all her customers’ names and what they needed to buy; it was so personal and immediate," Gunton concluded. "We are just going back to that age. That's what consumers want and expect.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.     

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