Not the New Girl Anymore: Fall NEMOA directXchange Conference

Content Manager

One of the first things I realized when I attended the fall NEMOA directXchange conference in Providence, RI., I was no longer the new girl anymore.

The second thing I realized was how many faces I recognized from when I attended the spring NEMOA conference in Boston and from Multichannel Merchant’s Operations Summit this past April (which  by the way, will be in Indianapolis April 22-24 in 2014).

Upon arriving at the conference, one of the first highlights of my day was having the opportunity to meet Giovanni Feroce, CEO of Alex and Ani, a maker of eco-friendly jewelry products.   He was the opening keynote for the conference that I  found was both inspiring and informative.

He told the audience that customers are target opportunities and allies for merchants.  He said most retailers have omnichannel wrong.  Some of the goals for Alex and Ani,  he said,  is to improve the customer experience and increase value at every touch point.

What I found to be interesting was his strong belief in the “Made in America”  concept, which is a promise of quality once again, he said.  Alex and Ani’s efforts, is to gather knowledge from the customer.

“Data is knowledge, knowledge is power.  Power is tempered by humanism,” according to Feroce.

The company collects data, monitor customer behavior and engages with social media.

Through the collection of data,  the monitoring of customer behavior and social media engagement,  Feroce said every sale made, is a story.

Speaking of social media, as I went through the conference on Wednesday,  social media was what people were talking about. How to integrate it into their businesses and using it effectively.

Feroce’s keynote was followed by Andy James,  brand manager of New Pig, who told the audience that marketers spend a lot of effort filling campaign slots and choosing targets and blasting.

James said too little effort is spent going out and understanding the current and ideal customer experience.  Great brands, he said,  are loaded with empathy and understanding the customer experience.

He told attendees to stop forcing and start understanding customers.  Brands, he said, create an expectation of experience which makes the products desirable.

I had a great laugh during lunch when Scott Stratten,  the president of UnMarketing , an expert in viral, social and authentic marketing.

He started his presentation by telling attendees that branding isn’t your logo and that nobody, but you and your designer care about your logo.  Your brand is defined by what your customer says,  it is about creating an experience with your customers.

Stratten’s presentation addressed the marketer’s need to use QR codes just to use QR codes. The message he stressed was marketers were putting QR codes everywhere from the back of buses or in emails on a phone.

I attended two breakout sessions in the afternoon ,  the first one was focused on social media with Clay Cazier of PM Digital and Nancy Rastall of  The Sportsman’s Guide.   The session looked at the value of social media.

Cazier started the presentation  by explaining the “3 C’s of social media” – customer, content and channel.

He told attendees to pay attention to customers,  define a customer profile, demographics, interests,  problems, questions and traditional channels.

“You want to talk to customers and customers you missed.  Pay attention to the customer base and you will get a better idea of who you want to approach,” Cazier told attendees.

As far as channels go, he said blogs are digital marketing’s original “social” channel.  You can accomplish a lot on a blog you can’t on an ecommerce site.

He said focus on being able to communicate with specific keywords.  The next best social media channels following blogs are Facebook and Twitter.

In terms of measuring the effectiveness of social media, Cazier’s presentation showed that 86% of marketers say social is important, but only 23% are able to measure the social return on investment.

According to Cazier, most marketers say increased exposure and traffic are the top benefits of social media.  Social can net new rankings for brand blogs and posts.

“Don’t ignore the ability of social media to drive real world interaction,” said Cazier.

Rastall continued the session where she told attendees it is important to have the same message across social media.  She also said to make sure if you plan to implement social media,  make sure you monitor it.

Communication is key.  Rastall said communicate through comments and customer service, and The Sportman’s Guide is using all channels to get people to its website.

The last breakout session I attended at the conference on the first day of the conference, was focused on email strategies.  The session featured Loren McDonald of Silverpop, a digital marketing technology provider, and Carey Marston Kegel from Smartpak, a horse supply and supplement company.  They each provided excellent tips businesses can use with their email marketing strategies.

According to McDonald,  email targets people based on a certain segmentation.  Batch and blast emails still generate revenue for most businesses.

The consumer he said, now decides when they are going to get email based on their shopping behaviors.

So why does Smartpak love target emails?  Emails promise a 72% higher open rate,  150% higher click-through rate,  109% higher conversion rate.  Revenue generated per email is 156% higher and spam complaints are 10% lower for Smartpak.

The two speakers provided attendees of the session several examples of the types of emails SmartPak does and the benefits each type of email brings to the company.

  • Pre-and-Post purchase email
  • Purchase process email
  • Opt-in welcome email – this generates high engagement with a 38% higher open rate,  a 7.7% higher click-through rate, and 0.33 RPE.
  • Cart abandonment-remarketing emails – work because conversion rates are so high, the only problem is volume is lower than a site visit email might be.
  • Replenishment email – increases sales of repeat purchases and sees a great re-order rate.
  • Autoship reminder emails- Increase 24% higher open rate,  6% higher click-through rate, $1.00 RPE and 27% higher conversion rate.

You can increase sales by marketing a relevant product to the customer.  The goal is not to focus on being perfect with your email, but to get the email out the door. You can always make improvements later, according to McDonald.

Create automated programs, queries, try different subject lines, times of days, send surveys.  All emails are based on whether the consumer is engaged.