A few days ago I shared how Fandango is using the Facebook API to drive social sharing by serving as a gateway to movie events. It’s a great idea and a killer example of social integration but my discovery of their app however was not from some academic browsing… No, as a regular Fandogo-er[?], I went to them to buy tickets: tickets for Iron Man 3. So this morning when I opened up my email and found a message from Fandango promoting Iron Man 3 tickets it was anything quite literally the most useless message in my inbox…
For the past 5 years I’ve tracked holiday season emails to see the changing trends, volumes, and types offers being used.
As email has become more competitive and customers have taken to a variety of communication paths, most notably social in 2011, sends have become much more individualized with companies in the same category and channel sending very different offer types and frequencies.
Looking at the overall trend, it appears volume is up, likely as companies continue to strengthen their digital competency as well as the size of their offers.
The Volume Counts:
- Brookstone – 114
- Restoration Hardware – 55
- Bath & Body Works – 54
- Macys – 42 [includes sub brands, i.e. rewards]
- Harry & David – 41
- Victoria’s Secret – 42
- Zales – 42
- Ice.com – 39
- CircuitCity.com – 38
- Eddie Bauer – 37
- NewEgg – 34
- Pottery Barn – 32
- NFL Shop – 31
- Sports Chalet – 28
- Best Buy – 29
- Costco – 27
- Target.com – 24
- Bed, Bath & Beyond – 23
- HP – 22
- BananaRepublic – 21
- Dockers – 21
- The North Face – 18
- Zappos – 15
- See’s Candy – 15
- SiriusXM Radio – 12
- StarbucksStore.com – 11
- Quicksilver – 7
- The Art of Shaving – 7
- Mophie – 6
The misses & future opportunities:
1. Many companies repeated messages, offers and creative. While emails do go missed, trends become notable and as shoppers key in, response is reduced. By diversifying messaging points, even with the same baseline offer, activity increases to see what “different”.
Restoration Hardware is just one example having sent 4 identical titled emails in 1 day.
2. Significant oversending continues to be a wide-spread problem with Brookstone setting the bar at 114 emails in around 90 days. While more volume can drive short term sales, finding a balance helps insure list quality and continued usage throughout the season and minimum opt-out requests.
3. Only a few companies addressed mobile viewing. With the huge spike in mobile this year, the implications of being accessible are significant — increased awareness and offer usage for retail and being a direct alternative for etailers.
Harry & David and Best Buy offered a mobile links on messages improving their shot at converting shoppers on the go.
4. Almost no companies leveraged social to validate messages. By including user generated content such as user reviews, comments from other shoppers, or more abstract programs like gift tips, social can help email become more authentic and lessen the spammy nature of offer only messages.
Samsung keyed in to both reviews and Facebook chatter in one of their email sends.
Note about the data: I track emails starting in September that mention holidays through to new years. Messages are sent to a dedicated account and regularly opened to fire tracking tags but are not acted on [no purchases] to avoid segmentation changes and of course some messages do get lost in the mix, this is not scientific.
This Valentine’s Day I thanks to some [ok, a few hundred] timely emails I discovered a lot about myself. I also found that with more than 20 messages from a single company in two weeks is too much even for me to get through and actually read so who knows what other details I may have skipped over.
First I found out that it’s time for me to propose thanks To Robbins Brothers.
Then I found out this special someone works in an office thanks to ProFlowers.
This was news to me but all seemed slightly ok until Victoria’s Secret told me there was a new way for me to love my own body in time for Valentine’s Day, with a bra. I guess only women end up on their mailing list.
Tiffany’s also shot over a confusing one when they offered to help me get a gift for “him” although they were ambiguous about who exactly “he” was.
And of course we can’t forget the anniversary gifts, computer parts and other suggestions sent out by all my other favorite retailers, most of which had much less impactful insights into my world.
Now I’m not suggesting any of these companies should have held back on their campaigns, in fact I’d like to I commend them on trying a diverse set of campaign messages and using some great creative to drive the sale. And these campaigns aren’t much different from what we see on TV, hear about in radio spots and are bombarded with in every other channel possible. What’s different is the opportunity of the internet – with a little interaction, some micro-profiling or even just a fun email offer Robbins Brothers could know my relationship status, Pro Flowers could be sure the name they keep suggesting a gift for is still a part of my life and Victoria’s Secret could become aware of my gender.
Personalization isn’t only about stopping awkward emails; it’s also a conversion steroid. Just think about it – if 1-800-Flowers knew who my mom was (they’ve shipped to her), what the status of my current relationship is, and that I’m more of the random flowers type than the once a year guy they could have slaughtered all their competition with some targeted and really useful gift suggestions instead of 23 different offers over 14 days. Getting accurate consumer data is of course a fine line as you don’t want to scare people off but as the world becomes increasingly digital the opportunity for a little profiling exists, it just needs to be used.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to update my family on some recent insights.