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By using personalization in the emails that are sent, retail marketers can grow their consumer base and ultimately increase ecommerce revenue. 

It’s interesting to come across prestigious brands with solid revenue streams and a ready acknowledgment that ecommerce wasn’t performing like they wanted it to.

That was the case for Björn Borg, a well-known sports fashion brand with a global presence. The etailer had been rapidly declining both in terms of growth and revenue, said its ecommerce manager, Noelia Guinón.

But the brand managed to turn itself around. The key? Personalization.

Those of you that regularly read ClickZ probably already know that batch-and-blast is on its last legs as an ecommerce strategy. If your email is one of hundreds in a shopper’s inbox, chances are it is getting ignored. The way to grab a shopper’s attention is through personalization driven by segmentation.

Bronto research suggests welcome messages to new subscribers convert at five times the rate of average marketing messages. Emailing to shoppers who didn’t initially open or click an additional time, results in an average 50 percent revenue increase.

It certainly worked for Björn Borg. Personalized messages increased revenue generated from email by 66 percent in the first six months.

“We only get a person’s attention for a very short time, so we need to deliver a message they feel is directed at them personally,’’ Guinón says.

What strategies worked for Björn Borg and what tips can other retail brands learn? Here’s a quick list.

1. Roll out the welcome mat

welcome mat-flickr-5624179647_50a421d605_o

New customers are motivated. Begin the process of turning them into loyal customers with a series of messages introducing the brand and (possibly) offering a coupon or other incentive. Take the opportunity to point them to a Preference Center, so you better understand how often they want to hear from (Read more...).

Björn Borg experienced a 232 percent higher click rate, 21 percent increase in conversion and a whopping 217 percent increase in revenue in the first six months on the Welcome Series, compared to its previous non-segmented messages.

2. Nudge shoppers toward the Buy button

Automated cart recovery emails were once reserved for very large retailers with an army of IT specialists. Now, they’re available to any size retailer.


Canadian retailer Silver Jeans achieved a 16 percent increase in conversion rates from sending out cart abandonment emails. This helped the casual wear retailer grow its email-based online revenue from just 0.5 percent to 22 percent in one year.

3. Make your mobile design responsive

The best segmentation efforts are for naught if your subscriber can’t easily view your site on their mobile device, because that’s likely where they are shopping from.

According to the Q3 2015 U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report from MovableInk, 67 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices. At 67 percent, retail apparel customers, in particular, buy through their phones.

Responsive design uses a fluid grid that sizes pages in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or points. It is a design technique that provides the most readable view given the device used.

Consumers aren’t even buying laptops, which is coincidentally the screen size many emails were initially designed for.

broto infographic

Bronto’s 2015 survey of 1,012 U.S. consumers shows laptop ownership fell from 2014 to 2015, while tablet ownership and smartphone ownership increased by double-digits. And 23 percent of online shoppers ages 18-29 prefer shopping on a smartphone.

Apps have been considered an alternative to responsive design, but it doesn’t make sense for shoppers to clutter up their smartphones with your app, unless they are ordering from you daily or weekly. Our survey reports that 76 percent of the group prefers to use mobile browsers versus 24 percent who prefer apps.

4. Don’t forget about deliverability

All the effort to segment lists and personalize messaging won’t have the desired results if the emails aren’t getting through.

Dump list growth as a primary metric – especially if your lists are old or include a lot of names that were added through list purchases. Lurking in those outdated lists are likely abandoned emails that could be spam traps, which is an ISP technique for trying to catch spammers.

star-wars-screenshot-its a trap-youtube

In crafting a more personalized approach, ecommerce retailers need to avoid overreaching. If you segment too extensively, you run the risk of outstripping the capabilities of your creative team to create unique messages.

Start with proven methods like a welcome series for new subscribers. Or set up a Preference Center to segment by the frequency that customers want to hear from you.

In conclusion

Just don’t start 2016 by doing the same things you’ve always done, because you’ll keep seeing the same results you’ve always seen.

Those results will continue to decline unless you keep up with how your target audience is changing.

Portraits of Bronto VPs at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, N.C. on Friday, June 6, 2014. (Justin Cook)

By: Susan Wall, vice president of marketing at Bronto Software.

As vice president of marketing, Susan is responsible for Bronto’s marketing strategy and leading all lead generation, branding and positioning initiatives.

Susan has been featured in Ad Age, Adweek, The New York Times, ClickZ and iMedia, and is an active participant in the interactive and retail marketing communities. 

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