Being tasked with building a successful email marketing program is no easy feat.
Constrained resources, legacy systems and organizational changes are just a few of many blockers marketers run into when trying to implement a new marketing program.
For Tommy Lamb, Director of Loyalty & Retention at Teleflora, this was a journey that started 4 years ago when he led the email marketing program at Lucky Brand. Based on a hunch that triggered email was the best option to drive revenue, Lamb partnered with Bluecore to execute an effective, efficient and repeatable strategy. This enabled him to overcome internal obstacles, provide incremental revenue in similar programs at BCBG, Dermstore and Teleflora and ultimately accelerated his career.
Here we’ll breakdown the challenges that Lamb faced at each brand and the strategies he used to overcome obstacles in order to take meaningful action on the data he knew he had at his fingertips.
Finding the Right Champion at Lucky Brand
“I honestly wasn’t aware of anyone else who could match the implementation timeline.”
Despite Lamb finding a solution that would power a successful email marketing strategy, he still had to find the right internal champion to help him execute. After a few months of discovery, he found his champion in Beth Monda, then Director of CRM.
At the time, Lucky was experiencing a lot of reorganization, which resulted in him losing his champion setting him back to square one. While certainly discouraging but not uncommon, many marketers often face organizational roadblocks that fall out of their control.
Determined to see his vision through, Tommy side-stepped his organization’s SVP and partnered with his VP of eCommerce, who was on the same page as Lamb as far as giving the email channel a boost. It was a risky move, Lamb’s intuition ultimately paid off.
“It’s important to find advocates in your company that will help push the limits a bit. These are the moves that get your programs to the next level and contribute to the business.”
With the support of his VP of eCommerce, Lucky launched three triggers – Abandoned Cart, Abandoned Product and Abandoned Search.
Abandoned Product and Abandoned Search triggers were particularly important to Lucky because they traditionally had struggled to engage those customers who are shopping at an earlier stage in the buying process. The goal is to get them to the point of putting items into the cart, and since Lucky was able to use customer behavioral data to dictate what shows in each email, they could reengage customers in that manner. For example, the Abandoned Product email was sent to a customer who browsed women’s blouses. The Abandoned Search email was sent to a customer who searched for men’s shirts.
One month after the initial setup, Lucky’s Abandoned Cart program was performing 2x the average cart program. The average open rate was 43%, CTR was 10%. On average, triggered emails like Abandoned Search and Abandoned Category bring in 40% more incremental conversions in eCommerce.
Countering Existing Beliefs at BCBGMaxazria
After standing up the triggered email marketing program at Lucky, Lamb took a promotion at BCBGMaxazria as the Manager of eCommerce Marketing. At the time, BCBG’s approach to email was very much influenced by the outfitting concept – so much so that the team controlled anything customer-facing. If someone shopped for a purple dress, you could bet that purple dress would be in every single email sent to that customer. But Lamb wanted to challenge this way of thinking and knew he’d have to if he wanted to execute a successful email program. Instead of BCBG telling customers what BCBG thought they wanted, Lamb wanted to listen and deliver a specific 1:1 marketing message BCBG knew the customer wanted. As a result, he found himself in a head-to-head challenge with existing mindsets in their organization. “This is the way we’ve always done it” or, “Our merchandising team needs to get this message out” were common objections he encountered.
“It was a struggle for them to release that time-honored belief that we have to tell people what to buy.”
Applying his previous experience, Lamb navigated the organization until he found the internal advocate he needed to get a triggered email test of Abandoned Cart, Abandoned Product and Abandoned Category up and running. According to BCBG’s reporting, in January 2014, triggered email marketing contributed 0% of revenue to the BCBG marketing mix. Only one quarter later, these three triggered emails represented nearly 25% of all email revenue generated at only 8% more volume.
“There’s a big misconception that triggered email just means you’re bombarding your customers with emails, but 25% revenue with only an 8% increase in email volume is pretty incredible.”
With those data points on the table, Lamb was able to prove his way of thinking and convinced the team that BCBG didn’t need to dictate what they thought their customers wanted to buy. Ultimately, the program saw great success across all triggered emails with a 36% open-rate and a 10% click-through-rate.
Cross-Departmental Collaboration at DermStore
With two successful email marketing programs under his belt, Lamb moved on to accept another promotion at DermStore as the Senior Manager of Retention Marketing. Although DermStore’s customers weren’t buying outfits, they were buying one lotion or treatment that lasts them a month to 3 months. Despite jumping to a different product category within eCommerce, Lamb was able to apply his learnings from his previous two roles. Lamb explains, “There actually is “outfitting” in skincare. It’s just called a regimen.”
While the leadership at DermStore understood and appreciated the value and future of automation, Lamb ran into similar challenges again of the team not wanting to admit that they may not actually know what the customer wants. In order for the team to even consider the idea of triggered emails, Lamb had to work on buy-in with the merchandising team and encourage them to be a part of the process. Ultimately Lamb was able to find six triggered emails that satisfied both the email and merchandising teams: Abandoned Cart, Abandoned Product, Back-in-Stock and a series of New Merchandise Notification triggers, which are based on a combination of both customer behavioral data and catalog data.
The New Merchandise triggered email in particular was a great way to satisfy the needs of both teams. Because the triggered email only went out to customers who viewed a product in the same category but did not purchase in the last 30 days, the merchandising team was able to get the word out about new products becoming available and the email team was able to keep that information relevant to the customer.
Ultimately, the Product Notification trigger represents 23% of the revenue DermStore sees from triggered email marketing – very close to Abandoned Cart revenue at 28%. This is a good example of how Abandoned Cart is not necessarily the end-all-be-all of triggered emails. The customers who search and browse your catalog leave a treasure trove of data to take action on that will ultimately lead to more revenue.
Applying Best Practices at Teleflora
After standing up his third successful triggered email marketing program, Lamb has recently accepted yet another promotion as Director of Retention and Loyalty at Teleflora. Lamb’s first triggered email advocate from Lucky Brand, Beth Monda, landed at Teleflora before Lamb did, and had thus already implemented a foundational triggered email program. Having this groundwork in place, Lamb is now advancing the sophistication of the program and is working to personalize emails based on shopping behavior.
Today, Teleflora runs six triggered emails, including a Post-Purchase that has been one of the highest performers and represents 26% of triggered email revenue. Lamb has tapped the vast opportunity of the Post-Purchase email. For Teleflora, this triggered email has been an excellent way for the brand to reconnect with customers after they buy. Lamb explains, “We generate 8x more orders with Post-Purchase triggers than with our previous trigger solution and our Abandon Cart has delivered 3x more orders than it’s predecessor. Product Abandonment and New Merchandise represent 22% and 17% of the email revenue from triggers, which is impressive.”
Although every organization is different, applying the best practices Lamb has learned is sure help any marketer anticipate and overcome internal obstacles.