How will 2013 Unfold? Predictions and Premonitions for the Digital Marketer


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Consumers continued to become more technologically savvy in 2012. Tablets, smartphones and even traditional computers all worked in tandem to help customers shop. Today’s digital marketers must adapt and evolve their messages to speak to this customer across multiple channels or devices.

The Marketing Strategists from Bronto’s Professional Services team are on the front lines of digital marketing; they help clients drive sales by optimizing and evolving email, mobile and social programs. Each strategist looks into the future and shares his or her predictions for upcoming trends and the tools that will be essential in 2013.

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How will 2013 Unfold? Predictions and Premonitions for the Digital Marketer

  1. 1. G U I D E
  2. 2. Consumers continued to become more technologically savvy in 2012. Tablets, smartphones and even traditional computers all worked in tandem to help customers shop. Today’s digital marketers must adapt and evolve their messages to speak to this customer across multiple channels or devices. The Marketing Strategists from Bronto’s Professional Services team are on the front lines of digital marketing; they help clients drive sales by optimizing and evolving email, mobile and social programs. Each strategist looks into the future and shares his or her predictions for upcoming trends and the tools that will be essential in 2013.1 Website Activity Influencing Email As a marketer, you know that it is vital to understand and track how your customer is engaging with your brand. For years, marketers have primarily relied on open, click and conversion data from their email service providers to segment subscribers and target offers. Website data, such as browsing, clicking and carting can be out of reach for many marketers or disconnected from their email platform. According to a New York American Marketing Association report, 39% of marketers say data is collected too infrequently or it is not real-time enough. 42% of marketers say they are unable to link data together at the individual customer level. Fawn predicts that these barriers will continue to lower in 2013, making the actions customers take on websites a key data component for email marketing. “I predict that this is the year marketers will pay more attention to where their subscribers are visiting on their website. Data from pages shoppers visit and which products they view will be used more frequently in 2013 to send targeted messages based on that user’s interaction on the website. Some brands have already launched automated campaigns using this method and I believe we will see even greater adoption in 2013.” Fawn Young Marketing Strategist1-888-BRONTO1
  3. 3. Q&A with Fawn Young If abandoned cart messages will evolve by going further up the purchase funnel, what’s next?Why haven’t we seen more of these campaigns You want me to predict beyond my prediction? Well,in the past? the importance and accessibility of data for activity onWhether it is budget, resources or technical knowledge, social networks and usage of mobile devices would bemany marketers are missing part of the puzzle. Some a logical extension. Using this data to trigger messagesstill struggle with the challenges of launching an that influence purchasing decisions will definitely helpabandoned cart email program. Marketers understand gain sales.the value of these highly targeted and automatedmessages and are ready to enhance the experience Are there any conflicts with running these campaignseven further, yet struggle with connecting all the dots. and abandoned cart messages simultaneously? This is worth testing. The goal is to drive sales whileCan this data benefit both automated emails and providing a positive customer experience. Look at thestandard promotional emails? timing between the messages and potentially suppressSure. I was recently shopping for bedding online browser recipients from abandoned cart messages ifand after I left the site, the brand triggered an email the two are overlapping to see if this has positive results.containing the bedding I had browsed. They couldhave alternatively used a categorical data approachto associate the product category with my profile. Clickdata from emails is easily accessible and many brandsuse this data now. Tying this data with the web sitebehavioral data could be a key to driving sales in 2013.For example, a clicker may always click on shoes in anemail but shops skirts once on the site. Knowing this willmake email even more relevant for shoppers.What are some pitfalls marketers should avoid if theyare interested in launching a program based oninteractions with their sites?Be mindful for people who are shopping for themselvesversus those who are buying gifts. After I bought myhusband a video game on, I receivedvideo game related content in email and on their site.Look at longer term data trends not just a one-timeinteraction.Also, include constraints to make sure messages are notrepeated. This will help these emails maintain maximumimpact. You don’t want to train subscribers to expect anoffer just for clicking on a product, or frustrate them bysending them too many emails from you.What’s the best way to get started?The best starting place would be to speak to yourwebsite analytics provider to see what services areavailable for consolidating and aggregating this data.If they can’t provide the service, they may be able torecommend a partner. This data can be imported intosome marketing platforms and used to trigger messagesbased on site activity. This email was received after clicking on a product link in an email.1-888-BRONTO1
  4. 4. 2 Adaptive & Responsive Design Will Be Used to Optimize Email Content for All Devices Multi-tasking across multiple devices is not just for the office anymore. Shoppers have integrated and coordinated their devices into their shopping patterns. According to a Google study of consumer intentions for the 2012 holiday season, 80% of shoppers planned to use multiple devices simultaneously while shopping. Not optimizing content for specific devices in 2013 may be shortsighted as your message travels from one screen to another in the hands of your customer. “We will start to see more responsive and adaptive web design in the email space, specifically with regard to tablets and smartphones. In this same vein, we will start to see more messages that interact with apps that consumers have on their smartphones. “ Anna Pfeiffer Marketing StrategistQ&A with Anna PfeifferWhat’s the difference between responsive andadaptive design?A simple way to distinguish the two is that responsivedesign changes in response to the size of the screen orviewing area. Adaptive design is design that changesbased on the viewing device.Let’s look at the desktop view for and the If you decrease the size of your web browser, theelements of will respond to the window size asit changes. The site will adjust itself based on the viewingsize of the device used.1-888-BRONTO1
  5. 5. contains many content sections when viewed What are some best practices?on a computer. When the same URL is visited on a Get away from optimizing for each device. The custommobile device, the site adapts to that device and shows design for iPhones, various Android devices, tablets,a mobile version of the page with fewer sections that laptops, etc. is not worth the time and resources inare easily visible on a smaller screen. most cases. With adaptive and responsive design you can have the promotion speak to the device. You can send a subscriber on an iPhone a pass to add to their passbook. You can send smartphone subscribers a reminder for their calendar to alert them when a sale begins. This will be how mobile optimization of offers will evolve in 2013. Why not just send the offer to everyone? Will subscribers learn how to adapt to content that is less than optimized for their device? Adaptive and responsive design decreases the time it takes to create one version for each possible viewing option versus creating one unique version that works for all devices. As far as going deeper, like making the offers different, it may take more work and it is a matter of testing to see if the results are worth it. Fragmentation of the offer for too many devices could take too much time and not pay off. Finding that threshold can be key to 2013 sales. How will the mobile inbox connect with apps to drive not only engagement, but sales as well? Apple’s Passbook is definitely one way this will happen. You can give someone a pass for passbook in his or her inbox. You can generate a pass, which is a link thatWhy is a “mobile optimized” email not enough you can include in the email. There are also apps thatin 2013? can add other coupons to a mobile device than canI have seen some brands significantly decrease the then be redeemed at a physical store location. Reallywidth of their emails to make sure the email is viewable exciting things lie ahead for reaching out to the mobileon mobile devices. When you do that you are basically subscriber.trying to get a “one size fits all” design. A responsivedesign can scale depending on the device andchange the layout all together, creating an “any size forall” design.Do you need a mobile site to benefits from responsiveor adaptive designed emails?You don’t have to. One of the basic advantages is thatsubscribers use mobile devices for email triage. Theymay view an email on their mobile device and comeback to shop later on their computer. If you have anemail that is not optimized for mobile and it’s opened ona mobile device, the message may be abandoned inthe mobile inbox and you lose the sale. Even if you don’thave a mobile site ready to go, at the very least youdon’t want them to pass over your email. Sephora gives their Beauty Insiders the option of adding their cards to Passbook.1-888-BRONTO1
  6. 6. 3 Automated Lifecycle Messages Will Target the Mobile Consumer The continued adoption of smart mobile devices will make it essential that marketers integrate mobile- focused messages into the customer lifecycle. Not only will the creative need to display and function properly, but the timing of these messages and the promotions they contain need to speak to the customer who is not just on the go, but viewing your offers across multiple devices. “Customer-centric retailing will continue to be a hot topic in 2013 as shoppers will control how and when they would like to interact with retail brands. This plays into allowing interactions with the brand anytime, anywhere and on any device of their choice. Retailers must figure out ways to get customers engaged and inspired in order to build long-term relationships. This is where the lifecycle campaigns become essential. Retailers must manage all of this data in a way that can easily be used to create a more 1:1 experience for customers.” Emily Keye Marketing Strategist1-888-BRONTO1
  7. 7. Q&A with Emily Keye How can marketers gain insight into their mobile population?What are the most effective lifecycle messages and Start looking at the devices subscribers use to openhow will they evolve in 2013? your emails. Bronto customers, for example, can use aThe most effective ones are the basics such as a segmentation tool that lets them segment based onwelcome series, lapsed purchaser message and the browser and device. Or just ask! Include an option topost-purchase series. select a preferred mobile device in your preference center to start collecting some data.Opt-in source will become even more important tomarketers in 2013. For example, a custom welcomeseries based on where someone signed up, whether in-store, online or a social media site, will speak directly tothe shopper’s experience in a timely fashion. An onlinepurchaser can be different than someone who alwaysbuys in-store. Introducing your brand in a welcome seriesthat extends that first interaction with your brand couldhelp get that first purchase.Lifecycle messaging triggers will also evolve in 2013.Rather than a website or form being the only triggers,walking past a store, being inside a store or a shopperscanning a code could be triggers that send messages. Kenneth Cole customers can use their mobile devices to show emails and receive discounts in-store. You mention marketers needed to manage “all of this data” so it can be easily used… What do you say to the marketer who feels overwhelmed with the amount of data they have to mine? It comes down to taking a look at the data points that lead to the most revenue. Just because you have the data doesn’t mean you have to use it. A lot of marketers may have to invest in third party solutions to aggregate and consolidate data so it’s accessible and easy to use. Conversely, how can a marketer with limited data build a better data profile that can help their program CVS uses QR codes in their email to help connect mobile evolve to speak to their subscribers regardless of their devices to the purchase process. devices? A few sources to focus on would be your email serviceWhat is the role of mobile devices in lifecycle provider, site analytics data or a third party. Start bymessaging from both the consumer and marketer’s collecting engagement data and finding ways to mergeperspective? that data into a holistic view of the customer across channels and devices. Keep in mind that it’s not justLooking at messages on mobile devices is already important to have the data but you also need to becommon behavior. It will become more of a norm for able to use it.shoppers to connect their mobile inboxes to the in-storeshopping experience. In addition to linking to a store How does message timing change based on theirlocator and having the option to print an email, Kenneth device?Cole tells subscribers they can also show the emailin-store on their mobile device to receive a discount. It’s more of where they are in the lifecycle, not just theShoppers will also continue to compare prices while device. Acquisition source can help with the timing ofshopping in store. Marketers need to connect to the the message because you have an idea of the deviceconsumer while in store. they are using and the location.1-888-BRONTO1
  8. 8. 4 ISPs Will Enable More Technology for the Inbox As we have seen general web technologies expand over the years, the inbox has been locked out of most of them. That is starting to change. Marketers and their design teams continue to push the boundaries for creating rich, dynamic inbox experiences for subscribers. One email may be viewed on multiple devices, and finding ways to provide a compelling visual experience in addition to your promotional message will help your message stand out in the evolving inbox. “More ISPs will start allowing HTML5 and video to be seen directly in messages. Compelling video and rich media will continue to grow as a way of engaging with your audience.” Kestrel Lemen Marketing Strategist1-888-BRONTO1
  9. 9. Q&A with Kestrel Lemen How can a marketer get started or test some of these concepts?Which technologies have been impacted the most by There are only a few email clients that support HTML5.limitations in the inbox? Test a video across different ISPs (Internet ServiceI think that people still struggle with the art of mastering Providers) and devices. Try repurposing existing videosbasic HTML email. I still get messages that are not coded from other channels. If you aren’t doing it now, testcorrectly from major brands - image files are broken or with animated gifs. Research your mobile customers.not sliced correctly and tables are not aligned. So there Adaptive and responsive design could help you makeis still that bag of cats to deal with. Beyond that, forms sure your messages are rendering correctly based onare sometimes used but do not render consistently or the device used.function properly across various email clients. I believe HTML5 will simply be another tool to make theIt would be great to use video in email, but you can’t. user experience in an email more exciting and personal.HTML5 is an emerging workaround. Animated gifs can Video is its big seller but think about what you could dobe used, but when compared to video, they fall flat. with video and segmentation! I look forward to workingThere’s no audio in animated gifs for example. Audio will with more clients on that prospect.need to be treated like audio on a website. You will needto be conscious of when it starts playing or if subscribers By 2015, I wonder if emails will become more likewill need to press play. Be careful of interrupting television commercials? Televisions will be giantsomeone’s day. The last thing you want is to check your computers and the experience gap between theemail in public and have a loud ad play without any two devices will close. There is a huge opportunitycontrol. for the inbox to step up to the plate and provide that advertising opportunity that seems to be closing forHow have marketers and designers combated those television ads.limitations?It’s a bit of a bait and switch where the video ismimicked in the email to encourage the click. It’s thesame with forms. While the mimic can be engaging, it’simportant to not frustrate your subscriber.What are some strategies for using video in email?Keep the user experience in mind. You can give theexperience of having the product in their hands like theywere in the store. By using video in an email you can getthem one step closer to having that physical experienceand interaction with the product at home.For example, I buy a ton of beauty products. If you canshow me right away how those products will look andhow to apply them, I am way more likely to make thatpurchase. The health and beauty industry is one of thebiggest industries I see already adopting video in emails. Bare Minerals mimicked video playback in this email giving openers a visual call-to-action to see how their product can improve skin hydration.1-888-BRONTO1
  10. 10. 5 Behavioral and Profile Data Make it Personal Bam! Ka-Boom! Pow! Data can pack a punch. It doesn’t take a massive customer database to make it personal. One data point can hold massive amounts of revenue generating opportunity. From birthday to purchase related data, marketers will need to harness the power of behavioral and profile data to ensure success in 2013. “My prediction is that data collection and customer behavior are going to be key for 2013! This year I believe marketers will spend more time surveying their audiences to really find out what products their customers are interested in and then they’ll use this data to send more targeted content. Quality data leads to more effective lifecycle messaging and I predict that more retailers are really grasping this idea!” Kellie Boggs Marketing Strategist1-888-BRONTO1
  11. 11. Q&A with Kellie BoggsWhich pieces of data hold the most value?This year I have seen more clients using purchase datato target promotions like “Thanks for purchasing lastyear…. here’s $10 off.” These messages can scale fromreally basic, such as only knowing whether someonehas purchased or not, to really advanced and targetedusing data about the specific product that waspurchased. For example, Bronto client, Shar Music, sendsautomated string reorder reminders to past purchasers,and their conversion rate is 26%! Not bad for acampaign that uses just a few pieces of purchase data.Look for data points that will provide a positive shoppingexperience for your customer, increase opportunity forautomation and drive sales. Collecting birthdates will Brookstone combines a customer service check-in and agive you an opportunity to send automated messages product review request in this post-purchase email.that have proven to drive a lot of revenue. Anotherexample, I have a comedy club client who collects How and where should marketers ask for thiszip codes to send targeted emails about upcoming information?shows and ticket promotions. Product interest data like With the new year, send out a survey to ask customersthis will help marketers segment and tailor content to which products they are interested in hearing aboutencourage a first purchase and subsequent purchases. in 2013. Ask previous purchasers to review products and then use that data in emails to prospects. Daily deals on social networks will be used to acquire email addresses as well as Facebook followers. Limit the data that you ask for on these social forms to the highest priority data. Social followers may not want to spend much time filling out your form. Shar Music’s automated string reorder reminder receives a 26% conversion rate1-888-BRONTO1
  12. 12. 6 Localization and Real-Time Content Become Common No matter where you go, there you are! Clearly the inbox will become more dynamic in 2013 to accommodate the consumer on the go. Consumers use traditional computers and various mobile devices to read product reviews and browse for the best deals. Optimizing content and timing promotions will be essential but there is another layer to add to the mix. Real-time and localized content will give consumers the most current and relevant information that will significantly enhance and inform the purchase process. “A cool trend you will see in 2013 is that more companies will leverage third party services that replace email content in real-time based on preferences or location. The concept of traditional dynamic content is going to evolve to mean so much more to both consumers and marketers.” Steve DuBois Marketing Strategist1-888-BRONTO1
  13. 13. Q&A with Steve DuBoisHow was this technology used in 2012 and how doyou think it will evolve in 2013?It was touched on in 2012 but it was a prematuretechnology in the marketplace. I think that as we goforward, more brands will look at the bigger players asa bellwether to see if adoption continues. Then brandscould see if there are ways to mimic the technology to 2013 could be the year emails containing store-specifictest whether it would work well for them. information are triggered when customers walk by a location.There are ways to replicate real-time and localizedcontent without using the full approach. For example, an Are there ways to test these strategies beforeimage showing the number of days left in a sale could investing?be overwritten each day. This process is manual andhas shortcomings, such as the image caching for some Animated gifs and overwriting content are practicalopeners and new openers still seeing an old image. ways to get started. Animated gifs continued to evolveThis could still be tested to measure the impact and this year and become more sophisticated. They showdetermine if further investment should be made. multiple products rather than just a pulsating button, but there are limitations. With an animated image withWhich uses do you think have the most impact for multiple products, you can’t click through on the thirdsubscriber engagement and for driving sales? product in the animation. An animated countdownHere’s an example to illustrate the concept of will not show the exact amount of time left but canlocalization. Imagine your customer opening an email evoke the urgency for a customer to start shopping. Youwhile walking by your store. What if you could use profile can test these strategies to see if there’s an uptick inand behavioral data you have on that customer to engagement and sales.populate the best offer? How amazing would that be tohelp drive sales and encourage your customers to visityour stores! Even if you aren’t ready to launch somethingthat advanced, start gaining insight into which devicesand platforms your subscribers are using to open yourmessages.Real-time content will take relevant content to the nextlevel. Let’s say I browse a sofa on a site, and then go tomy favorite news site and there’s a display ad for a sofa.The same could be true for an email where I view a sofaon a site and then when I check my inbox, an emaildynamically updates to show the sofa based on mybrowsing behavior. Horchow used an animated gif to mimic a dynamic countdown.1-888-BRONTO1
  14. 14. 7 More Resources Will Be Dedicated to Email It is important to remember the fundamentals when looking into the future. Advancements in technologies can overwhelm marketers but many of these tools have made the complex and time- consuming tasks of the past more accessible and streamlined. This doesn’t mean that every email needs to involve tons of levers and mounds of data. Getting back to the basics can save time, drive sales and provide subscribers with engaging content. “Segmentation and sending more relevant emails is something I hear more and more about every day. However, I feel many companies will struggle with how to implement it. I think the all-too-common shortage of personnel resources hinders the ability of many companies to effectively target all audiences with messages tailored to their needs. So although they all want to send targeted messages, most will need to devote more resources to it to be able to do this successfully.” Greg Zakowicz Marketing Strategist1-888-BRONTO1
  15. 15. Q&A with Greg Zakowicz Is there a way to test and measure the impact of delivering more relevant messages that can convinceYou said you hear a lot about “segmentation and the higher-ups that it’s worth the resource investment?sending more relevant emails” yet folks aren’t doing it. Yes! Take a basic data value that you already have, likeWhy? gender or product category of interest, such as shoes,It comes down to time. From what I’ve seen, folks want skirts or pants, and test sending specific messagesto use data that they have but they don’t have the time to those audiences against a batch and blast. Thisto create the messages. Dynamic content, for example, shouldn’t be a one-time email but measuring success intakes time to create multiple pieces of content, but terms of conversion rates and revenue over time will givemarketers may have other priorities and it becomes you some convincing information on the value of usingcumbersome and overwhelming so they revert back to that data.what they know. That needs to change in 2013. Last year you predicted that VIP & loyalty programsSo how do you see this changing in 2013? would be a valuable way to keep customers who were saturated with offers interested and coming back forSome brands are already making the shift. The more. Do you still think that is important?challenge will be for the smaller companies todetermine how to best use their teams and technologies I do think they are important. Balancing cost ofto streamline these targeting efforts. Collecting data has acquisition to the cost of keeping subscribers can bebeen a priority and now many marketers have “a deer challenging. Free shipping is so common and expectedin the headlights” moment. Identifying opportunities to by consumers. The value of discounts could decline forautomate messages will put marketers on the path to broad audiences. Keeping and catering to the mostease overwhelming workloads, provide an enhanced valued customers will help keep average order value up.customer experience and increase sales. Educationabout how to use this data in a streamlined andautomated fashion will be vital to holding a relevantconversation with customers.Do you think companies may be shifting resourcesfrom previously hot topic efforts with social media andmobile, back to email marketing?There may be some of that. I have seen a few brandsmake those organizational shifts. It’s important to notlose sight of those channels. Marrying the channelshas been proven to generate sales. Finding how mobile,social and email compliment and influence each otherwill make messaging that speaks to the multi-deviceand multi-channel customer. One thing is for certain –the different channels should not be managed in silos.Bronto Software provides a cloud-based marketing platform for retailers to drive revenue through their email, mobileand social campaigns. The platform is used by more than 1,000 organizations worldwide, including Party City, ArmaniExchange, Timex, Samsoniteand Gander Mountain. Bronto is listed as the leading self-service email marketing provider tothe Internet Retailer Top 1000. Bronto is headquartered in Durham, NC with an office in London, UK. For more information,visit