How Top 15 Retailers Tailor Marketing Campaigns According to Customer Behavior

The retail industry is in constant motion. New trends, new designs, new buying habits. Marketers have to keep up, even stay ahead, while simplifying and personalizing the customer experience.

How Top 15 Retailers Tailor Marketing Campaigns According to Customer Behavior
How Top 15 Retailers Tailor Marketing Campaigns According to Customer Behavior. Photo by Napat Saeng on Unsplash

Luckily for marketers, most consumers (75%) are itching for a more personalized experience. Consumers know what they want (hint: it’s convenience), but need a little push from marketers to help them find it.

That’s where this article comes in. We took a look at how 15 top retailers are marketing today using customer behaviour to tailor messaging. We wanted to see how companies are collecting, managing and incorporating data into their marketing campaigns, and at which campaigns and touchpoints along the customer lifecycle.

In this article you’ll find:

  • Common trends used by retailers in welcome, promotion, and cart abandonment campaigns
  • Actionable recommendations for how to collect data for future campaign success
  • Distinct steps you can take to personalize your cross-channel campaigns at a deeper, more individualized level

Table of contents

Our Marketing Makeover Model
The Welcome Campaign
Welcome to Our Brand
Let Me Show You Around
We Thought You Might Like This
The Foundations of the Ideal Welcome
The Promotional Campaign
Did You Find Everything You Want
We Thought You Might Like This
A Word About Mobile
Using In-App for Personalized Content
The Foundations of the Ideal Promotion
The Cart Abandonment Campaign
We Noticed You Left Something Behind
We Noticed You Left Something Else Behind
The Foundations of the Ideal Cart Abandonment
A Complete Personalization Makeover

With new trends, new designs, and new consumer buying habits, retail marketers have to keep up, stay relevant, and simplify the consumer’s experience.

The most effective way to achieve this level of relevance at the consumer level is personalizing the customer journey. Luckily for marketers, most consumers (75%) are itching for a more personalized experience. Consumers know what they want (hint: it’s convenience), but need a little push from marketers to help them find it.

The problem many retail marketers face is efficient data management. By this we mean, how companies are collecting, managing and incorporating data into their marketing campaigns, and in which campaigns and touchpoints along the customer lifecycle.

That’s where this guide comes in. We took a look at how retailers are personalizing the experience for their customers and have broken down three core campaigns (Welcome, Promotion, Cart Abandonment) into what can be done by retail marketers today to take their personalization efforts from the foundational every day to expert full glam status.

Fitting all the pieces outlined below together will enable your marketing campaigns to shine a light on each and every customer, giving them the red carpet spotlight they so greatly deserve.

Our Marketing Makeover Model

Retail is a broad term covering a large swathe of product categories. In this guide, you will see a variety of businesses, but the majority are either department stores or beauty brands.

With a focus on one product category, such as beauty and cosmetics, we were able to more clearly define trends occurring in the retail industry by making comparisons between brands and their tactics. And thus, our models were ready for their makeovers.

This article, which includes data and marketing messages collected in June and July of 2020, looks at existing campaigns and identifies key areas where retail marketers can give their campaigns that extra personalization pizzazz to stand out from the crowd.

The Welcome Campaign

The welcome campaign is the eyeshadow. It’s the tailored 3-piece suit. It’s the strapless dress in a sea of shift dresses…

It’s that first impression. Your chance to shine and display a glimpse into your brand’s voice, tone, and personality—to set yourself apart.

The ideal welcome campaign guides users through the customer journey while highlighting key product and brand offerings. It helps marketers build audiences on the backend, segmenting by interests, location, channel, and myriad other possibilities.

In our research, we found three core trends that—when combined—can be used to completely makeover your welcome campaigns into a mutually beneficial start to the customer-brand relationship.

73% of consumers are using multiple channels to shop

Welcome to Our Brand

Retail is a competitive industry. To help stand out, organizations have built detailed “exclusive” offerings for consumers. From discounts to membership perks, the benefits vary widely.

e.l.f. Cosmetics nailed its welcome email with succinct messaging outlining the benefits of being a customer.

  • Lists: People love lists. It makes things simple and easily digestible (case in point: here and below).
  • Only The Need-to-Knows: No fluff. Short sentences. Minimal copy. Relevant info.
  • Rhythm and Flow: The content of the list follows a natural flow, beginning with the easily understood, purchase-based perks like free shipping and gifts. From there they dive into perks that wouldn’t be quite as obvious, but are brand-specific like joining the “Beauty Squad.”

e.l.f. also did well to incorporate a cross-channel approach to its welcome campaign. 73% of consumers are using multiple channels to shop, so it’s essential to create a cross-channel welcome campaign that shows new users that your brand recognizes their shopping habits and wants to simplify the process.

  • Short and Sweet: The first message is unlikely to be your last. Don’t try to fit everything in right away. Keep messages targeted and within the character limits so nothing is lost.

Your brand has a lot to offer. That doesn’t mean it all has to come in one message. Keep your first touch simple, clear, and concise—no matter the channel you employ.

Let Me Show You Around

The next piece of your welcome campaign should give a little back to you. You’ve provided a look into the benefits for the user, now you can give yourself an opportunity to collect a little more information. Encourage responses or interactions that are trackable and can inform future promotions.

Lush mastered this in its welcome campaign by combining data collection with brand identity. Towards the bottom of this first email, users find six icons that showcase the company’s values.

  • Help Them Help Themselves: Use your growth marketing platform to create trackable events to fill out the customer profile. Lush includes all of its product categories with links to unique URLs to track any interactions to inform future recommendations.
  • Build the Relationship: Creating a sense of community and introducing the brand as a friend or partner endears new users to your brand identity. An inviting call-to-action button can help drive engagement.
  • Share Your Values: 89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands with similar values. Establishing customer loyalty can begin with the first touch and build a solid foundation for customer lifetime value. Each of these icons links to its own page. This information can be used later on to personalize copy and recommendations at the individual level.

Unsure how to makeover your welcome campaign? Similar to a crawl, walk, run framework, here are some ideas of what you can do now (or every day), how you can improve, and how to shine for the most success!

  • Everyday: Write out values in the message copy
  • Night Out: Include images or icons linking to unique values pages
  • Full Glam: Incorporate values page data to offer recommended products that exemplify that value

We Thought You Might Like This

Putting recommendations in a welcome campaign on the surface might seem a little odd. What’s the use of throwing out a recommendation when you don’t know what the user likes?

By asking that question, you’ve already answered it. Many brands include recommended items in their welcome campaigns specifically as a way to start learning more about the consumer.

Beauty Bay doubled down on this tactic by first including a collage of “must-haves” before offering a few recommended items in a “We Think You’ll Love…” section that appeared throughout their communications.

  • Brand Identity: Showcasing your brand front and centre from the first message gives your marketing staying power with consumers.
  • Grouped Collage: This collage, while beautiful and eye-catching, leads to a central hub of staff picks rather than linking to the products directly, which would help build out a user profile for future recommendations. The right backend technology automates the recommendation process so it’s all available without sifting through products.
  • Expertise on Display: Recommendations are about showing your expertise in a certain field—whether that be the product line, the customer’s wants/ needs, or both. Starting from the first touch, using any and all data feeds you have access to gives you a leg up from the get-go to iterate as you build more refined audience segments.

A key aspect of recommendations is interaction. Here are a few ways you can engage customers to fill out the foundational data for more personalized recommendations.

  • Everyday: Link to a variety of products and let the consumer browse from there
  • Night Out: Use demographic and user profile data to tailor recommendations
  • Full Glam: Directly ask what the user wants and allow for interaction within the message

The Foundations of the Ideal Welcome

The exact pieces of a stellar welcome campaign vary from business to business. With the principles below in place, your welcome campaign sets your user on the right path to advance in your lifecycle journey at a more personal, impactful level.

  • A Friendly Hello: Your subject line and header should exhibit a bright personality. This can include a deal or discount, but no matter what, a friendly hello is needed to start the campaign off right.
  • Show Value and Voice: Welcome your users in a way that fits your brand. Playful? Aspirational? Edgy? It’s up to you. This is also the section where you want to highlight the benefits and any other pertinent info (e.g. message cadence, contact information) that will help progress users through the lifecycle stages.
  • Collect Segment Data: Your personalized lifecycle journey will thank you for starting early in collecting data about your user’s preferences. Build-in opportunities for interaction that enable simpler data integration into future campaigns.
  • Get Them Started: Recommendations are a great way to endear yourself to an audience member. Offer up a suggested path for them to take as they move through your brand.

The Promotional Campaign

Standing out among the crowd in retail promotions is a difficult task for any marketer— no matter the strength of your brand.

Many consumers have inboxes full of “10% off!” or “Sale Ends Soon!” emails. The good news: Email is still the preferred promotional channel for 60% of consumers. Even better news: Half of the consumers actually want to receive promotions from their favourite brands on a weekly basis.

So, forge ahead with that promotion! But, make sure you’re doing it in a way that makes sense for the user. Here are just a few ways you can make sure your promotions stand out.

Whether using modal overlays, capturing contacts, or transferring data to your ESP, make sure to pressure test your acquisition points. Your promotions will be better personalized if you have the insight into where and when users are interacting with your brand and help propel them further along your customer journey. – Leah Lloyd, Senior Director of CRM & Email, Tinuiti

Did You Find Everything You Want

In building out promotions, we saw a few different tactics utilized by retail brands.

  • Broadcast Audience Campaigns: The same content sent to a large segment— if not all—of the customer base.
  • User-Specific Campaigns: These promotions capitalized on the information in the user’s account, such as location or age.
  • Data Feed Campaigns: Promotions that incorporate data from outside the ESP, such as browsing history.

Broadcast audience campaigns were far and away the most common promotional campaigns from brands in our study. And while we did fill out our user profiles for each brand with personal information, we didn’t receive any that directly referred to this information.

The most sophisticated promotions incorporated our behaviour beyond interactions with marketing communications.

Take a look (on the next page) at the difference between a broadcast campaign from U.K. department store House of Fraser and a promotion incorporating data feeds from beauty retailer Sephora. For context, we had searched for eyeshadow and perfume on House of Fraser’s website/app and skincare products on Sephora’s website/app.

  • Categories: Department stores have the freedom and flexibility to promote a variety of brands/product categories, but if the user’s preferences are not incorporated into the marketing mix, the resulting promotions can seem impersonal.
  • Data Collection: This sort of automated campaign can bring important behavioural engagement data for later campaigns. Advanced features like Send Time Optimization can greatly improve the success of these promotions by optimizing for the most engagement at the individual user level.
  • Integrated Data: Knowing our search history for skincare products, Sephora devoted a full email to our interests.
  • Metadata: The promotion focuses on a new brand and new products at Sephora. Incorporating metadata information such as [productnew] ensures your promotions are relevant to the user and your business objectives.
  • User Behavior: After scrolling through a variety of products, we reach the bottom and find the product we had initially browsed and abandoned in our cart. There’s no hard rule that you have to use cart data in only cart abandonment campaigns. It’s up to you how you use your user profile data.

We Thought You Might Like This

Much like with welcome campaigns, promotional campaigns are ripe with opportunities for recommendations and retail brands came prepared during our research.

Using the data from the welcome campaign’s foundational efforts as well as our behaviour, many brands in our study were able to tailor their recommendations to our preferences.

Sephora tracked an item from our cart, alerted us of its restocking, and recommended related items.

  • A Seamless Experience: Much like the categories above, retail brands display recommendations in a grid mimicking their websites, creating a seamless experience across channels and devices. In doing so, users become accustomed to the layout and are more familiar with the purchasing process.

In your efforts to craft a personalized customer journey, user profile data, data feeds, and metadata are crucial in deciding which products to highlight.

  • Everyday: Recommend a category to gauge interest
  • Night Out: Focus on a product category the user has shown interest in
  • Full Glam: Use AMP for Email to allow the user to purchase a product right from the email

A Word About Mobile

Mobile offers are 10x more frequently redeemed than print offers. And with consumers consistently using their phones to price match or find coupons, it’s vital that brands utilize mobile channels to their advantage.

With retail shoppers constantly on their phones and looking out for deals, it’s a no-brainer for marketers to foster a mobile relationship with users.

  • Push Notifications: Promotions lend themselves well to push notifications thanks to the breadth of possibilities within the push. From imagery like here with e.l.f. Cosmetics to rich push action buttons that link directly to products and other content, the push notification is a great way to stay connected with users beyond your app in their notification centre.
  • In-App: In-app messages like this one from ASOS are unobtrusive, allowing the user to continue their search throughout the app unimpeded. This one, in particular, is excellent for getting to know the user at a more personal level by directly asking for their preferences. In-app messages are great for smaller, but important communications like this.
  • SMS: Text messaging is integral to our daily lives. For marketers, like those at Kylie Cosmetics, it’s a great channel to get a one-on-one conversation feel with users. While Kylie uses it here for broader promotions, we highly recommend responding in this channel. Few things build a relationship like a back-and-forth communication with a customer.
  • Mobile Inbox: Much like email, mobile inboxes are longer-term messages. Mobile inbox is the perfect channel for promotions like Ulta Beauty does here, or for more informational messages like onboarding guides or how-to guides, which can be essential content for the retail marketer.

Using In-App for Personalized Content

“UpHabit is about helping you build personal relationships,” says Neil Wainwright, CEO and Founder of UpHabit, a personal CRM app helping users build and maintain relationships. The company was able to drive users to the app through email marketing campaigns but wanted to see more sustained interaction within the app.

So, they turned to Iterable for in-app messaging. Using Iterable’s platform flexibility, UpHabit gave in-app messaging a complete makeover using their own JSON payloads to incorporate their design and create a more dynamic experience. The adjustment to in-app messaging helped increase subscriber conversion of 718% and decrease subscriber churn 42%.

There’s no such thing as too much creative messaging! Overestimate your creative needs, especially during the holiday season. If you think you need three versions, plan for five or six and test them against your evergreen concepts. Not only will you be ready at a moment’s notice, but you’ll also have backups in the event one concept underperforms. – Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content & Mobile Insights, AppsFlyer

The most important aspect of mobile marketing is data integration. A unified data management platform across desktop and mobile gives marketers a holistic view of the user’s activity. This yields more targeted messaging on preferred channels. Here’s how that looks in practice.

  • Everyday: Send a text-based push promotion
  • Night Out: Multi-touch promotion plan via multiple channels like push, in-app, and mobile inbox
  • Full Glam: When the user is near a brick-and-mortar location, send a push notification linking to the app where coupons are housed in the mobile inbox.

The Foundations of the Ideal Promotion

Really, the perfect promotion is one that showcases your brand identity, gets the attention of the user, and adds value to their experience with you. You can mix and match these pieces as you please, but the core tenets remain.

  • Invest in design: Few things scare off modern consumers like a poor design. Whether your brand and products call for vibrant colours or a more muted palette, make sure you are following core design principles that grab your readers’ attention.
  • Be open with your intent: Breaking down your promotions by product category—or business unit, such as an outlet store—helps drill down into the user’s personal preferences.
  • Automate real-time content: You don’t have to get the promotion right the first time to keep the consumer’s interest. But you can simplify the journey by incorporating their actions as they happen. Automated design layouts are also a big step towards efficiency.
  • Maintain dynamic data: Implement dynamic search criteria into your backend recommendation engine to constantly stay up-to-date. As engagement grows and you understand more about users at the individual level, use new features like AMP to help drive conversions.

The Cart Abandonment Campaign

The welcome and promotional campaigns are great for relationship building, but ultimately the goal is to complete that purchase.

With almost one-quarter of carts abandoned and abandoned cart emails converting at a rate of 4.6%, it feels like a no-brainer to include this campaign in your marketing strategy.

From the messages we received, two things became clear:

  • Some brands are keeping a closer eye on what exactly is left in the cart.
  • There should be no difference between your desktop and mobile carts.

When targeting users who abandon their carts, it can get a bit tricky as users go from mobile to desktop to even purchasing in-store. Tracking these movements gets easier when you employ a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and couple this technology with engagement tools to monitor behavior. One thing to look out for is deterministic matching, which lets you define a data point to identify actions as coming from the same person. – Matt Parisi, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Tealium

We Noticed You Left Something Behind

The cart abandonment campaign presents perhaps the most personal look into the mind of the individual consumer—of these three campaigns at least. You are getting a glimpse of what the user likes enough to consider spending their hard-earned money on.

But something got in the way. Now, it’s the marketer’s job to reignite that curiosity, to motivate that “Check Out Now.” Lush motivates with a gentle nudge in their cart abandonment emails.

  • Visual Elements: Images of the abandoned items are hugely important reminders for the user and can be automatically included in the backend.
  • Add Weight: It’s not just you that thinks this product is great for the user. Using data feeds, you can pull product reviews and other supplemental information to help drive that transaction.
  • Show Your Value: If you have a service or offering that helps the user make a decision, now is the time to showcase it. Use this as a continuation of your welcome series by always adding value when possible.

The cart abandonment campaign is essential to driving transactions. Integrating data from your various sources to create an automated cart abandonment campaign simplifies the process for you and the customer.

  • Everyday: Showcase the abandoned items, including imagery
  • Night Out: Provide recommended services and products to complement the user’s behaviour
  • Full Glam: Do those two things, but for browse abandonment as well. Behavioural events and data are must-haves for personalization.

We Noticed You Left Something Else Behind

Sometimes, users will abandon items on desktop and mobile, meaning multiple items in their collective cart.

Many brands work around this by sending two cart abandonment messages—one message for each item. A few brands—Lush in particular— prove they manage their data in a manner that provides a view into desktop and mobile simultaneously by including items from both sources in the cart abandonment campaign.

  • All Abandoned Items Are Equal: No matter the channel, if a user has gotten close enough to purchase an item that they abandon the cart, it’s important for you to address this. Cart and browse abandonment campaigns can be triggered automatically through your growth marketing platform to take advantage of any—and all— abandonment.

Don’t let any possible transactions slip through the cracks. We’ve seen brands move items from your cart into your favourites list after one hour of inactivity, without sending any notification of this fact.

Whether it’s mobile or desktop, it’s unwise to assume consumers regularly look at their favourited items or even their cart. It’s up to the marketer to take the initiative and act as that friendly reminder.

  • We Got Your Back: Cart and browse abandonment via mobile not only show users you’re paying attention and want to take care of them based on their actions, but also that you’re paying attention to where these actions take place.

With digital shopping rapidly increasing, it is essential for retailers to implement an effective app marketing strategy. In particular, a cart abandonment strategy can help not only to encourage customers to complete transactions but also to re-engage users with your app, creating long-term, loyal users. The quickest way to create a seamless cross-channel interaction is to deep link cart items from your email campaigns directly to the app to encourage conversion. – Mick Rigby, CEO, Yodel Mobile

The Foundations of the Ideal Cart Abandonment

Cart abandonment is about shining a light on a user’s past activity. “Remember this? Maybe you just got distracted and actually meant to buy it?” *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink*

An ideal cart abandonment message simplifies the process with these key pieces:

  • Direct subject line: Cart abandonment is fairly straightforward in its intent. You’re reminding the user of something they forgot. Be direct, but don’t shy away from having a little fun with it too.
  • Show, don’t tell: Absolutely include images of the abandoned items. Retail consumers are visual buyers due to the nature of the industry. Play into that and give them visual cues.
  • Motivate a conversion: Use data feeds to automatically populate messages with a third-party review or experiment with AMP letting users check out right from the email.
  • Include all carts and items: Make sure your platform can integrate data from all relevant sources to give you a holistic view of the user’s cart activity across channels.
  • Show similar items: Never pass up the opportunity to provide recommendations and learn a bit more about your audience!

A Complete Personalization Makeover

In looking at the retail industry, the pieces of a great personalization campaign are there but spread out across a variety of brands.

As you’ve seen, the backbone of an expertly personalized campaign— whether it’s welcome, promotions, cart abandonment, or all three working in tandem—is the data.

Start by welcoming your users with a prompt to gather more information that will lead to mutual benefits down the road. Follow this up with enhanced promotions that integrate external data feeds and internal user attributes to create stellar dynamic campaigns. Top it all off by reminding your users of abandoned carts across devices in a timely manner with added value from third-party reviews.

When initiating your marketing makeover, look to the steps we’ve provided above to audit where your current campaigns sit and identify which technical needs are required to get there. Your growth marketing platform should have the flexibility to seamlessly integrate data feeds, store and manage metadata, and automate sophisticated campaign templates—all in real-time.

All marketing programs are beautiful in their own way, but sometimes a well-orchestrated makeover can provide the rejuvenation needed to succeed in ways previously unimaginable.

Source: Iterable

Published by Silvia Emma

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