The EMPATHY IN ECOMMERCE: Evolving Personalization to Drive Customer LTV event on May 19 featured Sarah Cascone, senior director of marketing at Bluecore, WITHIN CEO Joe Yakuel, and Tommy Lamb, WITHIN’s lifecycle marketing strategist.
The conversation began with a discussion about how difficult it can be to convey the importance of customer LTV to clients, who may be in a rush to show high revenue rather than wait out the value of longer-term planning.
“It’s that classic short-term, long-term game of are you willing to make a minimal sacrifice in the first few months to optimize something at the profit stream,” said Joe. “It’s maybe not as good for your revenue in the first month, but it makes your revenue numbers easier to hit every single month after that. I think that’s the kind of dynamic that a lot of brands struggle with when they’re in a pressure situation to put up short-term numbers.”
That struggle can manifest internally to brands as well, Tommy noted, since teams may have different goals. “Oftentimes, departments are kind of diametrically opposed.” But LTV can be a uniting factor. “I think that falling back on something like LTV to be used as a lens through which to measure all the different departments helps align otherwise dichotomous teams,” he said.
Not all buyers are drawn in by promos and discounts. Sarah advised resisting the urge to run promotions or discounts for immediate revenue. “The reality is, when you look at the data, and we have data on this, there’s only a small portion of customers that are promotionally driven.”
Joe noted that certain cohorts of buyers buy reliably at full price, and don’t need to be drawn in by promos unless they start to drop off, in which case, you may want to give “a light offer to get them back on track … but they’re not promo shoppers.” Yet other customer subsets may only shop during promos with deep discounts. Those buyers “are not buying unless it’s a promo,” Joe said. “They might need deeper discounts on a more regular basis to keep coming back to shop.”
Tommy also is cautious to point out that non-transactional actions have value. “Dollars aren’t just dollars; you need to incentivize high-value actions. … If someone downloads your app, it’s worth, say, $40 LTV. If somebody signs up for your credit card, maybe it’s $25 LTV. Map those out, continue to re-measure each year to inform your priorities; then move forward giving customers the most valuable calls to action to incent the most valuable revenue.”
Part of using empathy in messaging means anticipating what customers like, then presenting them with options.
Sarah explained that customers who have an affinity for a particular brand may still not be familiar with that brand’s most popular items or offerings. “Starting with the product in mind, but then layering on consumer preferences, you can use communications [to highlight products] that the customers might not have otherwise discovered without that kind of touchpoint.”
Tommy agreed. “You’re trying to strike the balance between giving them what you know they like and product discovery. Because there’s always that subset or that smaller cohort … people who always buy the same brand, or the same moisturizer, or whatever, but they have a very high likelihood to try new products. Finding that sweet spot in your recommendations is essential.”
The treatment of new customers is a place where brands can get sloppy, according to Joe. “A lot of brands do a one-and-done welcome series. It’s like, ‘give me your email, I’ll send you a promo.’ Then that just puts them in the batch-and-blast; they get that welcome email one time and then boom, they’re just part of the batch-and-blast email cadence.” Joe sees that as a real missed opportunity.
And inundating the consumer with emails is a big no-no; one that Sarah calls the “email death spiral.”
“There’s this understanding that if I send more email, I’ll drive more revenue … but there’s this hidden cost of the unsubscribe … there is no ‘right’ frequency of emails,” Sarah noted. “Being able to respond quickly, based on the individual is key. What’s overloading for one customer could be a perfectly fine, welcome customer experience for another.”
Header image source: Pexels
Sue Cahaly is WITHIN’s Content Marketing Manager. She and her husband live outside of Boston in a house full of kids, dogs and music.