A panel discussion featuring e-commerce experts Daniel Fertig of BigCommerce, Arthur Tschopp of Listrak, Ronald Dod of Visiture and moderated by Jeff Herrera of Annex Cloud.
You know, we kicked off Annex Cloud Market Movers because we wanted to take proactive steps with brands, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, and provide key insight from a lot of key influencers, thought leaders, market strategists, so that we don't get caught in sort of paralysis of, hey, I got to focus on things that are really meaningful for the business, things that I should be doing now. Sure, there has to be some recalibration because of the current economic conditions, but we want an offer up a kind of a partner perspective with key folks that are doing great things to help our clients and prospects get through this turbulent time. So that's the spirit behind Market Movers.
And this is an extension of what we're doing with Annex Cloud Market Movers. And we brought together a team of partners and leaders in our space to talk a little bit about, kind of the digital economy, the digital experience, the customer experience, and customer retention and loyalty, all those good things that drive business and opportunity in times of stress.
So having said that, let's go ahead and just do a quick intro for everybody who's going to participate on the panel. Dan, if you could go ahead and introduce yourself, followed by Art, and then Ron, and then we'll get into some of the meat of the discussion around customer retention and experience. Go ahead, Dan.
Yeah, appreciate that greatly, Jeff. And appreciate you all having me today. Really quickly, just by way of introduction. So I look after and manage our global agency and SI ecosystem for BigCommerce. For those not familiar with BigCommerce, in a nutshell, we are a versatile solution for advancing a brand's commerce experiences. So our 60,000 clients use our eCommerce platform to create differentiated commerce offerings. And the value is that we enable them to do that without compromising security, flexibility, scalability. So all of our customers, whether it's GE selling locomotives or startups selling watches, or luggage, they're using the same underlying SaaS application. So hopefully I can give the lens and perspective of, what we're seeing across those tens of thousands of customers today.
Hey, thank you very much. My name is Art Tschopp. I am the Regional Director of Business Development with Listrak. We're a longtime partner of Annex Cloud. We're an email service provider, CRM and marketing automation platform that allows clients and customers that we share with Annex Cloud and also BigCommerce, to send triggered, automated messages to the loyalty programs that we're going to discuss today and retention strategies that are going to keep our customers engaged throughout this very unusual time in history. Thank you for having us.
Hey everyone, my name is Ronald Dod. I'm the Chief Marketing Officer and one of the partners at Visiture. We are an end-to-end marketing agency focused exclusively on eCommerce brands and really help with the full life cycle marketing, everything from development, engineering of their platforms, to customer acquisition on paid media management, SEO and content, all the way to retaining customers through email marketing SMS, and more. I'm glad to be here today.
Thanks, guys. Really fantastic to have you guys join us today. So let's dig right in. Let's talk about the kind of customer retention in this current economic crisis. Dan, let's start with you. BigCommerce has made great strides over the last few years, and you guys are getting hit from all angles on prospects and clients looking at ways in which you can extend the value of the platform and how you can add tremendous value to the overall experience. So given this current economic crisis, what should brands and retailers be doing now to find some success in 2020? Given that there's a lot of uncertainty, a lot of volatility.
We think of course, here at Annex Cloud, that there should be a laser-focus on customer retention because that brings a level of certainty to the business. But I'd like to get your perspective, and I'm sure a lot of the folks listening today would like to understand from a platform, a commerce platform perspective, what are some of the things that you guys are thinking through in terms of maximum benefit on the platform, working with the various extensions and how brands and manufacturers can get through this difficult time. What's your message to those folks?
Yeah. I mean, this can be in and of itself an hour-long plus conversation, right? I mean, to your point about retention, there's already been public data that there's a shift towards 30% or more of consumer spend at this point. And even on the B2B side, it is happening digitally. So there needs to be, not just thought about, okay, how are we actually capturing market share from an acquisition standpoint? But once we have all of these newfound customers, how are we thinking about retaining them? What's our messaging to them? What is the life cycle management of those customers?
I would say, before even getting to that, it really is worth thinking both strategically and tactically. And it's important to know where you are and what your success looks like at this moment, and if you fit into where consumers spending is shifting, right? So we have over the last 30 days, seen on our platform across our merchants, over 100% year-over-year GMV spend on the platform. And we're not the only commerce platform that's seen that. So what that means is that there's a tremendous shift towards online spending, but it's not every industry. So if you're somebody that is in an industry that's struggling, you need to be thinking about, are there manufacturing shifts that can happen right now that will help me keep my employees employed and will help me pay my bills on a macro standpoint? And if you're the beneficiary of that increased spend, you really do need to be thinking about the full life cycle management from a strategic standpoint.
We're seeing our customers think about, what are the impacts of this on my manufacturing and distribution? Should I be relying on manufacturing overseas? Should I control more of my entire manufacturing and distribution infrastructure? Where are my customers transacting with me? Do I need to shift messaging and spend that way? On the tactical side, if you are one of those customers, and we have many that are seeing disruption. It's really important you're tactful about the site experience, right? So making sure you have things like pre-orders set up. If you are just starting to get your manufacturing and distribution back online, you will then go back to work with orders to fulfill. Back in stock notification, merchandising to the moment is really important as well as you think about this from a brand lens, right?
So we have merchants that sell fitness and wearables watches, and we have merchants that sell regular consumer rented watches, and right now fitness and health and all things tracking your health and wellness are exploding on our platform. And so you should probably think about merchandising to what is of the moment right now. If you're an apparel manufacturer, don't be merchandising your cruise wear, right? Merchandise your loungewear. So it's about situational awareness, but also an honest stock of where you are and whether or not you're a beneficiary, or you're suffering under the current trends and shifts in how consumers are spending.
That's great insight for sure. And I thought we think of things that can have real impact with an existing base of customers that you paid for. You acquired them, right? And now you're trying to create the right opportunities very efficiently around, what impact can I have on average order value? What can I have on the frequency of purchase despite the difficulties of the economy? How can I maintain my relationship with my most valuable customers? And Art, given that, what you guys are doing related to email communication, SMS, making sure that those touchpoints are realized, I think it would be helpful to get your perspective and see what you guys are doing with the support of retailers and brands, tied to that messaging around the things that they can control, right? The current customer base, the website experience, the mobile experience, the amount of touchpoints. Can you give some insight as to kind of how you guys are working through that with your clients and prospects as you talk to them?
Yeah, sure can Jeff, and thanks for that insightful description of what's happening in the eCom platform. And yes, this is definitely an unbelievable time in history from a messaging standpoint. I think we all experienced the initial rush to communicate out in the market, whether that was B2B or B2C. We had many of our clients who behaved similarly, where we were receiving messages from brands that we hadn't interacted with for years because the propensity for retailers and business people is to go ahead and want to reach out to any customer they've identified.
So one of the benchmark rules in email marketing is, the lists, I'll use a big, round number to keep it simple. The email list for most large retail enterprise clients could be a million people. Out of that million people, about 200,000 might be active and loyal customers, but they still have the opportunity to communicate with laggard customers and people who are not currently active buying. And they will go ahead and deploy a general message, preferred messaging at the beginning of the pandemic was, "Hey, we're all good. Our employees are safe. We're healthy, we're washing our hands." Followed up by, "Free shipping and 50% off anything in the store," because they're very desperate to do business. This resulted in a catastrophic unsubscribe scenario for most of our brands.
And we have essentially done some very focused and laser-focused strategies for communicating, how do I actually sell a product in this environment? We talked about back in stock issues and keeping people aware of inventory flow, supply chain management, and messaging them appropriately. And at Listrak, as we connect with Annex Cloud on the loyalty platform, knowing your customer and having that 360-degree view of the customer and their purchase recency and frequency, what their current buying habits tend to be, I found one of the most interesting statistics that was released a couple of weeks ago, that the desktop activity has almost gone inverted from the 70% or so mobile preference with the Listrak users. That number because of the stay at home orders in most of the States has kind of flipped over.
So our clients have to be making sure that that responsive design, although they were focusing on mobile deliverability, is also rendering properly on the desktop. And just in general Jeff, because there's, I think someone mentioned at the beginning of the webinar, there are so many different directions to go in the conversation, but really paramount is understanding your customer and having navigated over 25 years of marketing and digital marketing, this is very similar to what we might've seen back in 9/11 when there was an immediate shift, although a much more abbreviated shift. As long as you know what your customers are doing and how they're performing using data to leverage decisions, you'll be in a solid position.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, that's terrific. Ron, I want to come to you next because I think you guys do a tremendous job with data analytics, making sure the timing of communication is right, always looking at ROI. What are you seeing right now as it relates to some of your clients and prospects, and understanding the elements of what they should be doing and what they should be controlling? Obviously, things have to be re-calibrated, but there are things that they should definitely be doing right now to achieve success. Help us understand how you guys are coming at this from your perspective.
Yeah, thank you. I appreciate that. You know, thankfully, we have a lot of examples to pull from for merchants who are doing very well right now. And obviously, there are things that are out of the merchant's hands when it comes to maybe supply chain or getting product, but there are a lot of things that are in our hands. And I think first and foremost, everyone should be chasing ROI. I think it's time to abandon any metrics that are not tied to an actual dollar amount. It's very easy to measure every marketing channel in e-commerce, and really the highest ROI is going to be through retaining customers, upselling customers, and more.
I've seen a lot of merchants start creating subscriptions for very kind of small average order value products with the whole goal of acquiring a higher customer list to hopefully upsell them a larger product later, and then just keep top of mind on their customers on a monthly basis. I thought that was very, very tactful.
And then another thing is two, just really focusing on the creative that you're presenting. I think some of the leading merchants out there right now are doing a really great job from a creative standpoint. It's not enough just to advertise in Google advertising, and Facebook, and Instagram anymore, really be focusing on the message of what you're trying to accomplish. And the merchants are doing very well. Whether it's a programmatic display. SocialX, have acceptable creative and are doing a really great job there, in really helping deliver messages outside just a discount and more. And I'll have a couple of funny examples as well later when it comes to email and social.
And then finally, I think it's important to focus on educational content and be really a thought leader in your particular niche. The reason being is, educational content can really help for a multitude of reasons. You can upsell to digital products that you have so that your customers can know. You can stay top of mind by delivering this to them through email and social and more. Hopefully, they share with friends. And cultivate a rank in Google for keyword phrases, and drive top line traffic, top of the funnel traffic, excuse me, ultimately hopefully become a customer later. So it really just helps in overall life cycle marketing. And it could be really advantageous in a time where just pushing out promotional content to your current customers might not be an ideal time.
Yeah. Yeah. Good segue into social too. I think you nail something right there. Yeah. We're definitely seeing kind of this Renaissance period to social. I definitely want to get the panels insights and feedback on social, because obviously with safer at home, quarantining, there's been quite a bit of activity on social. I see mom's doing 10-day challenges, talking about different experiences. There's a lot of movement on social which is great, it's an opportunity, right? And it's a fantastic experience if it's done right.
So Ron, I mean, just think of social and kind of how that's materialized over the last several weeks. The importance of brands and retailers and manufacturers around social, getting the credibility around their brand messaging and support behind that. But from your perspective, how do brands, or your clients, or prospects, how do they capture authentically, right? That's the keyword, authentically capture the hearts and minds of the customers? How do they connect? In a very real, very authentically, given that the time of this economy has changed quite a bit. There's a lot of unemployment. There's a lot of uncertainty. There's a lot of fear out there. So from your perspective, can you share as it relates to social, around how customers can connect with brands and manufacturers in a real and authentic way?
Yeah. There's so much that you can do and social's really just, almost becoming a mature channel now, for many merchants and it's criminal that many merchants are not doing the basics in social from using retargeting to target their current customer base. You can use email matching, you can try out new social channels, as far as Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and more. There's just so much you can be doing with it. And it will continue expanding as new channels, like Tik Tok emerges, and really could get consumers to move towards these different social platforms.
And I think it really just comes down to your creative and your message you're trying to get out. If it's just very promotional-based, very much like 20% off, 35% off, ski equipment, 25% off, then that's only going to go so far in a very competitive world and in a world where consumers are hurting right now. And so being fun, being engaged, and being empathetic are always great ways to really resonate with consumers. And then also even educational content as well. You know, like how do you social distance in the park? And then integrating some product content with ways to enjoy time at the park, while social distancing. Things like that, that are able to share on social media, share on your email channel and more can really help gain new customers and really get your current customers to become brand advocates of you, and hopefully tell their friends about you and just continue to build your business.
Jeff, I'd like to... Yeah, it's Art. I'd like to kind of add to that because I think you both touched on a very important strategic move that our customers at Listrak had been executing. I think earlier I mentioned that the initial rush to push the send button by most of the C-level at the retail organizations was to reach out, and much like sending a 25% off skis, or whatever that promotional messaging is, failed horribly. It was a huge loss of a customer list and we leveraged cross-channel strategies, including social to our clients to make sure they're able to get back into that authentic message tune. And social has been the lifeblood. And boy, if the content was king before COVID, it's been elevated to some new worldly title, because it is what is holding the brands together.
Because as you said, having the ability to message a customer in a fresh channel rather than email, incredibly valuable. And I can't implore enough on the value of orchestrating your messaging and whether it's in email, SMS, or social and making sure that we stay as relevant and germane to the life conditions going on right now. And promo emails, they are not being met with a huge amount of conversion right now. You really have to craft your content.
Right, right. Huge, and Listrak has always been out in the forefront of that. So that's fantastic. I think what we're talking about here guys is, in social, there are elements, especially tied to customer retention and loyalty, the experiences, right? You're constantly trying to demonstrate value authentically. And the way that consumers or customers react to your brand and are willing, right? Are willing to create and share those experiences in social. I.e, they had a great experience with the brand, a product. They were able to see something from the brand that was unique and different, and they're willing to tell all their friends, and family members and colleagues about it, and they're willing to post video and write reviews. And guess what? As part of the customer retention strategy, they get rewarded for that, assuming that, that particular client or prospect is considering having the right loyalty program in place to reward all that great behavior.
So there's a lot of customer retention, stickiness. They are outside of just transactional, which is really important to, obviously retaining your most valuable customers who are doing many different things to connect with the brands. So very important. And I'm glad to see social if it hasn't been on the minds of others, that it definitely needs to be. And social is a key opportunity to create real value in the hearts and minds of customers. So that's really important.
Let's dig into the kind of a little bit of the customer experience now in this current market. Dan, talk about that from a platform perspective, a little bit, so that people understand there's a way. Obviously we have to adapt. We have to be agile as we try and get through this difficult time. But from a platform perspective, from all the clients you see in all sorts of different verticals, fashion, health, and beauty, you mentioned wearables, great verticals. But what is that right customer experience now, given the challenges of the current economy? What are you guys thinking through? How are you providing strategic guidance to clients and prospects now, around that customer experience?
Yeah. And man, this in and of itself, again, could be a really long topic of conversation. And the customer experience can be, especially as certain States open up, re-calibrated on a fairly regular basis. So that could mean, curbside pickup. And what is the experience when somebody's going to pick up products, curbside? How easy is it for them to do it? Is there a smiling face waiting for them when they do it? But from a digital standpoint, really important, Arthur mentioned this, like any communications that you're thinking about, make sure they're adding value to the conversation.
The customer experience on the shopping experience is really important to be thinking about transparency, without getting political. I think people are yearning for transparency in today's day and age. And so if that's transparency into pricing, if it's transparency into shipping considerations or a product might normally ship and get there in four days, but instead, it might be two weeks because of logistics issues. You want to make sure that you're being as transparent as possible.
It could be things like, if you're starting to open up brick and mortar, that experience can be incentivizing your customers to be welcomed back into the brick and mortar location with, this purchase at a certain threshold qualifies for a physical gift card that can be used in-store. When you're comfortable and ready to come back to our stores, we're here to welcome you with $20 gift cards. That could be a surprise and delight.
If you're in the subscription business, what is next month's subscription look like? You know, you're one of the 30 million Americans unfortunately, that have filed unemployment in the last month, you're probably taking a hard look at what subscriptions you have in your wallet and on your bills each month. And so what is a business doing to make sure that it's not their subscription that gets canceled? What do I, as a consumer have, to look forward to in next month's box that makes me really excited about ditching a different subscription to save costs and keep yours? What is the returns policy look like in this environment? If you need to extend traditional returns because people can't walk into your store and all of these things are really important considerations for the overall customer experience.
Yeah, no doubt. Great insight on the surprise and delight. Right now, I think what we're saying is brands, retailers should have an opportunity to be as flexible as possible. With customers, we've seen a lot of that in many different verticals. We saw that with airlines, we saw that with hotels, where rewards were set to expire, they extended those timeframes. But there's also an opportunity for other merchants in different verticals, right? Tied to fashion apparel or health and beauty, where shipments take place and maybe there's a good surprise and delight element within that shipment that keeps them coming back and keeps them engaged. Or an opportunity to have a different experience that they didn't have with their previous engagement with the brand. So there's different things that could be happening to give people something to talk about, especially in social.
So that's really important tied to that experience. Art, anything from you, as you think about the ideal customer experience in this difficult time period? We talked about surprise and delight. We talked about some different elements to engage. We talked about experiences. What are you guys seeing is part of that, to help manage and deliver delightful customer experiences in this difficult time?
Yeah, it's a very important point to maintain, because at the end of the day, all of us on this call are very entrenched in technical, digital channels solutions. At the end of the day, what we're learning from COVID is, we're still human beings and we're trying to transact business. And at the end of the day, that's a surprising delight is probably one of the most important motivators for consumers. And yes, in fact, across multiple verticals, Listrak clients are stepping up and adding value in package delivery. We've got some, of course, fast fashion and apparel were one of the first verticals to be effected in a negative way once COVID broke. Thank goodness they're starting to see an uptake in revenue and conversions.
But we've also got a very good cross-section of luxury goods providers and apparel who are doing things that you would never expect them to do, like manufacturing masks and giving them to the customers as a GWP, excuse me, a gift with purchase. And not even letting them know that that's an incentive on the front end of the purchase. And it just, talk about surprise and delight, you get a highly relevant item that is valuable to your household and family when you were buying something that was unrelated.
So maintaining that related relevancy, it has been very important to the customer experience with our clients, at least. And most importantly, just being able to reassure the client, or excuse me, reassure the customer, to be careful I don't get my client and customer mixed up, reassure the customer that, yes, not only are we here as a brand to continue this surprise and delight delivery, we also have programs available to assist you through the community and all of these outreach items that are proven to be a very valuable currency in this new economy. So, yeah, it's surprise and delight. Love it.
I'm going to take that, coin in that one for the day. That was a good one.
Awesome. So let's switch gears a little bit. And Ron, let's start with you. Things are starting to open up a little bit, right? We've seen that over the past week. Here in LA, we've seen a few things like the beaches open a little bit, as long as you're active, guess what? You can go to the beach, just don't go on the sand, just be active. But we see some stores, we see some restaurants pick up and delivery. We've seen all that take place now. Again, to a degree, which is all good signs, it's all positive. So now I view this as an opportunity and want to make sure you guys are thinking of this in the same way I am, or you guys may have different opinions on this, but we should share these with the folks that are listening.
This is an opportunity for prospects and clients, brands, retailers, call them what you will. This is an opportunity to now positioning themselves for success. Right? They've had to recalibrate, they've had to focus on certain elements of the business that they weren't necessarily really focused on, but now they have to be because of the change in the economy. What can they do now to kind of set themselves up for success? How can they win, right? How can they get it at a first-mover advantage now, by having to go through all this and really set them up to win and win big as we get through 2020 and then of course, into 2021? What are some of the ways in which they can do that? What are the ways in which they can look at their business? Its do, it's different, are they having to relate to a different economy, the customer experiences are a bit different.
What are some of the things that they should be looking at now to really set themselves up to win big and compete, and compete very effectively in 2020 and beyond? Rob, what do you guys say to that? And how are you guys thinking about that as you talk to clients and prospects? As they've looked to reestablish what they needed to get through this difficult time but to win, to aggressively win in 2020 and 2021. Love to get your thoughts, Ron.
Yeah. Yeah, I appreciate that. And I was actually on the beach last week and in Tampa, and it was really nice, visited my mom for Mother's Day. So I'm glad they opened up the beaches.
It's a great question. And really when this whole pandemic happens, there are so many articles coming out about what brands should do. And there's something that's always resonated with me with a start. And that was a brand called Kellogg's. In the great depression, they were a cereal brand nowhere on the map. And I think a Great brand or something was the main cereal brand in America. And what they did is they doubled down on advertising when the cost per acquisition, I'm sorry, cost per advertising was very low. No one was advertising because it was a great depression. And subsequently what happened is they really grew their brand through the great depression. It became a household name out of it.
And that's always really stuck with me because I feel like that's what brands can do right now. Cost per impressions is really low right now on social, cost per clicks in Google are very low. So it's a really great opportunity to advertise, to push your brand forward. Even personally, in Visiture, I manage a budget as well. And right now, if you looked at my numbers, they look very, very bad. I'm not a good marketer right now and the numbers, our cost per acquisition have gone through the roof. But what we're doing is we're able to build connections with consumers, searching for us online. We're able to build relationships and then when this whole pandemic comes back, I'm sorry, goes away, we'll be able to have a lot more connections and opportunities to win business.
And the same for eCommerce brands can be the same. You can start winning consumers now and start building those relationships. So I would say, continue ramping up your advertising, ramping up the email marketing, chasing ROI. And once this blows over, you'll be able to shoot out at the other end.
And another thing too, I was going to say, is really, honestly, focusing your customers, your user experience outside of just your website. One brand, I think does an exceptional job with their customer experience across all things from social, to Google ads, to websites, even their packaging, is a brand called E-Channelling, which has fantastic products, but they have a really cool thing that they do that always really stuck with me. Not only do they send a great package that has a personal note from one of the founders, that talks about things going on in men's life and try to be an advocate for men, even have someone that will literally call their customers all day, that's their one job, and just ask them how their day is going and ask them, are they using the brand correctly? Do they need help with anything? I think it just goes then, another mile, to really give a better customer experience
Outstanding. Yeah, that's really great feedback. I think we only have a couple of minutes left guys.
Yeah. I was going to. Oh, I'm sorry. I was just going to really quickly, to just add to what Ron has said. And he touched, both Ron and Arthur touched on this, is the idea of data. You're capitalizing on this newfound uptake and spend in customer acquisition, use this as an opportunity to create more of an omni-channel view of your customer. There's a great example of a company, Ron's story sparked this reminder for me. I am a member of a loyalty program for a nutrition and supplements company. And I have been for a while. So they know a lot about me because they use that loyalty program to learn about me as a consumer over the years. So they know that I have a one-year-old and a three-year-old, which makes work from home with two working adults, very difficult.
They kind of, with a personal letter from a senior executive in the company, they sent me a sample, a decent-sized sample of one of their supplements that are built around the hangover cure. And they're tongue in cheek message was literally, we know you have two young kids. We know you might need to make use of this. That was incredible usage, not creepy at all. You would think some of that would be creepy, incredibly humorous and human usage of the data that they've collected on me over the years. And so I thought that was a really good example of ways to capitalize on surprising and delight, but also leveraging the programs they have in place to make me happy as a customer and keep me for longer and trying new products.
Yeah, that's a great one.
That is fantastic, that's a fantastic share. Thank you for that.
It is. That's the ability to be bold, be creative, create some impact, take an informed risk, and really try and connect. That's a really great example, and that's what we should be doing and that's what we love to hear. So again, I think we only have a couple of minutes left. Israel, is there any questions we should look at, or are we good? Because I want to talk about how people can find this on annexcloud.com/marketmovers. There are tons of great videos there from lots of thought leaders and market strategists. This will be put up on the website as well. Thank you to Dan, Ron and Art. Your perspectives, your expertise, this partnership community that we have, this is how we win. We all win together. And this is what makes the lives of our customers and our clients so easy, is to bring us together and provide real value. So thanks for making the time.
I'll leave you with this. Our client Mackenzie-Childs, around customer retention, we've been back and forth talking about how we can support them being flexible, like we talked about in this webinar. They said very good, this is a quote from Larry Shaw, their CMO. "If we had to cut down to two to three services that we pay for, loyalty would be the one that we would keep." So now, I think people are getting the message that customer retention, not just when times are tough, it should always be top of mind as a strategic priority. Because again, you've paid for these customers, you've worked hard to acquire them, now you got to keep them. And that's where your loyal customers are going to come in and support you, and when times are tough and when times are good.
And so let's leave it at that. And if anybody has any questions, further questions or comments, again, reach out to us on annexcloud.com/marketmovers. We'll be available to answer anything that people need. Okay. Thanks, guys.
Thank you, everyone.
CMO, Annex Cloud
Global Director, Agency Partnerships, BigCommerce
Regional Director Business Development, Listrak