A Vote for Engagement Over Conversion

Waynette Tubbs

When does it make sense to concentrate on engagement over conversion? Three ecommerce practitioners from three very different brands explained why engagement can be more valuable long-term at the recent Bronto City Tour event in Los Angeles.

For Courtney Lear Wallace, Director of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce at Unique Vintage, it is about staying top of mind when it’s time for their customers to buy a dress. The company specializes in vintage clothing styles for women. An email that doesn’t score an immediate purchase isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Sexy Hair products are primarily sold through salons, Ulta and JCPenney, so the goal of the website is to complement those efforts. In fact, the site limits the amount of product a buyer can order, and its website sales only account for about 1% of total sales. “I’m ok if they are just coming to our site to check out a product as long as they go buy it somewhere,’’ says Jill Pauley, Director of CRM. While Pauley might offer a small discount to someone with an abandoned cart, she is more apt to provide hair tutorials or tips to keep customers engaged.

Smith & Noble is particularly engagement-driven as purchasing custom window treatments online typically involves not just multiple visits to the site but a call to set up an in-house consultation or sizing session. “There is a long order cycle – about 12 weeks from the time they visit to the time they purchase,” says Claire Gordon, Vice President of Marketing. For Gordon, success is measured in the low bounce rate (26%) and the 9.4 page views per visit. Everything is about re-engagement – first getting browsers to order samples, then getting sample holders to schedule a visit.

The panelists also had some other interesting points to share about their marketing strategy:

  • You absolutely must cleanse that list. “It’s like cleaning out your closet. It’s painful and you’ll always have some excuse that you are going to wear the clothing eventually,’’ says Wallace, who removes addresses if they haven’t bought after 14 months.
  • Some of Sexy Hair’s segmentation efforts come from the links subscribers click on in a company enewsletter. Are they looking for specific styling tips? Or the latest trends from the red carpet? The company also segments based on the type of product a customer buys. Buy gel for curly hair and you’ll get more email focused on curly hair. “If I know you’re interested in curly hair, I talk to you differently,’’ Pauley says.
  • As window treatments are something people don’t buy more often than about five to seven years, Gordon looks at the amount of the purchase in determining which customers to re-engage. If someone only buys one or two rooms worth of treatments, they’ll likely be back and are worth marketing to. “About 20% of customers buy again in a year.’’

Want to learn more about the best and brightest in commerce marketing? The Bronto City Tour wraps up its 2015 tour in Sydney, Australia on November 16. Join us to hear from Bronto experts and Australian companies succeeding with ecommerce. And read more from our City Tour speakers here on the blog.


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