Dispatch From Fashion Digital NY: How to Keep Customers From Both “Buckets”


During a panel on retaining customers across multiple touchpoints during yesterday’s Fashion Digital NY conference, Elaine Chang, the Vice President of Marketing at Tibi, pointed out how her brand “focuses on an active bucket of customers and then on the lapsed ones.  We adjust communications based on the bucket.”  Tibi’s strategy seemed to be emblematic of much of the days’ words of wisdom, which offered different ways to effectively tailor digital retail strategies to various groups of consumers.

During the panel in which Chang was taking part, the moderator Ross Kramer, founder of Listrak, picked his participants’ brains for ways to communicate to both current and lapsed shoppers most relevantly:

1.  Craig Elbert, from Bonobos, noted that while the goal of the company’s e-commerce strategy is to create more tailored content, in order for the brand to connect with the customer faster and retain them more effectively.  A corresponding real-world presence, the Bonobos showrooms, accomplishes the reverse goal, connecting customers to the products that they want.

2.  Larry Promisel, the Senior Vice President of digital commerce at the Camuto Group, noted the “delicate balance and challenge to distribute and maximize marketing dollars” between wholesalers and the company itself.  Because the “choice for customers is vast” regarding where they engage with a brand, for labels who distribute across a number of channels, there’s a need to “think about what’s best for the whole company, not just the digital flagship.”  Promisel’s insights from looking closely at customer data impacts where the company ultimately advertises.  A sidenote — they also make sure to message Millennials differently from older customers.

3.    Speaking very specifically to targeted marketing based on data, Sam Barnett of Struq noted that in his company’s research, the first step is always “to think through where a consumer is in a shopping decision,” and adjust the approach based on their figurative location.  Next, think about how to “reactivate” a lapsed customer with the  best combination of ad elements.  According to Barnett, “the best performing ad for customer reactivation is one that shows three products, has a marketing message, and a call to action.”

4.  Craig Elbert also pointed out the value of a trigger program to vary a brand’s message.  In Bonobos’ case, this works out to sending new email sign ups a welcome series about the brand.  “There’s significant lift from this, over dumping them into the normal email series.”  Elbert also noted that “abandoned cart emails aren’t hard to get off the ground and do five to ten times the revenue of a normal email.”  He warned against trigger email regarding returns, however, “because if something didn’t work, we want to have a personalized outreach, not just try to sell them something else.”

5.  All the panelists agreed that looking at the full user journey is key, because, as Chang put it, “it’s comprised of many pieces.”  Jason Weidner, of eBay, pointed out the particular need to “optimize around social.  It accounts for about half the time in a customer’s path toward transaction.”  To retain and reactive customers in a luxury sphere, Promisel, who was at Barney’s before joining the Camuto Group, achieved social optimization by finding ways to remind shoppers, during every step of their journey, of the niche level of service the company offers.

Elbert ended the discussion noting that “even if you don’t actively go on social [media] you’ll still have commenters. But you can creatively make promoters, and create [brand] advocates through targeted conversations over social.  And then you create followers before they’re customers.