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Showpo ramps up marketing strategy

Online fashion retailer, Showpo, has adopted a new marketing solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to personalise the way it communicates with different customers.

Launched this week, the AI solution marks an expansion of Showpo’s use of enterprise marketing software, Emarsys, which the e-retailer first implemented as its email marketing platform late last year.

The move comes at a time when the company’s marketing strategy is maturing. Since the appointment of chief marketing officer Mark Baartse in August 2016, Showpo has doubled its marketing budget and ramped up the role of data.

Baartse told Internet Retailing that implementing Emarsys’ marketing software has already delivered “big wins” for the company, which had previously been using MailChimp to manage communication with customers.

“The main thing we’ve been trialling for the past few months and will continue to trial is the personalisation product. This enables us to use the data we have built up through our email activities on the website,” Baartse said. “So if we send someone an email with a special offer, we can reflect that same offer to them on the website.”

Going forward, Showpo will also be able to tailor the type and timing of its emails based on individual customer behaviour through AI. Rather than scheduling an email to go out to every customer at 7pm, for instance, marketers can schedule the email to go out at the optimal time for each person.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s a no-brainer,” Baartse said about the use of personalisation and AI in marketing.

Social media the primary channel

In the grand scheme of things, however, email marketing remains a relatively small part of Showpo’s overall strategy. Baartse said Showpo’s spending on email is roughly five to 10 per cent of its spending on social media.

“Email marketing is primarily a retention piece. As far as acquisition goes, it’s not the best channel. For us, social media is a huge acquisition channel. I think we’re unusual in the market in that respect,” he said.

Where email marketing does play an important role is in the database. Showpo is currently in the process of creating a single view of customers from across its email, social media, search and website channels.

This single view of customers will be housed on the Emarsys platform and will allow Showpo to send messages to customers on social media informed by all their interactions with brand.

“We’re really keen to use some of the features that will enable us to do targeted messaging to those audiences on Facebook. We haven’t adopted it yet, but we probably will next year,” Baartse said.

“I think for our size, we’re punching above our weight but we’ve got a long way to go.”

The role of “soft” data

As a lecturer for the Association for Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising, Baartse is a true believer in the power of data to drive better marketing decisions. But he admits that gathering data is a much simpler task than unlocking the value of that data.

That’s why he is currently conducting a marketing segmentation project to better understand Showpo customers, and why he has hired a full-time user researcher to gather qualitative, or “soft” data from customers.

“Amongst other things, she spends a lot of time talking to customers, getting feedback in various forms, ensuring that the end-to-end experience is optimal, both from how they buy, to how they interact with us on other channels, through to delivery,” Baartse said.

One thing the company has learned through such “soft” data is that the typical Showpo customer is not the “slick, inner-city, urban girl” the team originally thought. In fact, the brand is much more popular in regional areas, such as the Central Coast.

“That knowledge has kind of permeated through the company now, so we talk differently about our customer,” he said.

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