The consumer shopping journey has become highly-personal in recent years, thanks in large part to the rise of mobile shopping. In order for brands to reach their target shoppers, they're having to stretch their creative in ways that truly put the customer at the center of the campaign – through personalization.
Personalization is one of those tactics marketers often hear is effective, even if it might be somewhat challenging to execute. And there are a number of studies that point to the value of personalization, but seeing the impact it had on a specific marketing effort can help really drive that point home.
Visual commerce platform Curalate and home goods retailer Z Gallerie teamed up for a marketing initiative that put personalization at the heart of the effort and achieved impressive engagement results from both prospects and existing customers.
Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate, explained to Marketing Dive that what makes personalization such an effective tactic is that it helps brands cut through the noise and help their brand be heard by the right consumer at the right moment with the right messaging.
"There’s no question that social and digital communities are driving brand discovery, engagement and purchases. But access to a vast and growing amount of visual content comes at a cost. As a marketer, it’s getting more difficult to be heard. And with so many different channels, personas, and types of content to consider, creating effective messaging can be incredibly hard," Gupta said. "That’s the allure of personalized marketing."
The process of the 'style personalities' campaign
Z Gallerie wanted to appeal to a broader base of shoppers to complement its existing passionate and engaged customer base, and this goal led to its "style personalities" campaign.
Although Chris Nicklo, VP of customer and CMO at Z Gallerie, told Marketing Dive the effort may have begun as a marketing-led initiative, but now is something the company puts at the core of its brand and customer experience. "It impacts everything we do from product assortment to marketing to digital and store experience," he said.
Nicklo said the first step was the marketing team partnering with the vice president of merchandising and product development to showcase five style aesthetics: Glamorous Regency, Traditional Twist, Calmly Collected, Urban Modernist and Naturally Luxe. Each was supported by products in different categories including furniture, lighting, mirrors, decorative accessories and artwork.
The element that kicked off the campaign was a quiz. Surveys have been found to be a good tactic for gaining insights that can lead to personalizing marketing messages.
"Since the brand lacked customer data to inform segmentation/message personalization, the team decided to invite customers to ‘discover’ their style personality by taking a short quiz," Nicklo explained. "The team developed the quiz and the algorithm for assigning results."
At this point the team also created an email series as a follow-up for everyone who took the quiz. The first email reiterated the quiz result and provided additional information on the system; the second offered tailored product suggestions. The final email showcased user-generated content from Instagram and Pinterest about the recipient’s style personality with a call-to-action to engage with the brand on those social media platforms.
Implementing the campaign across marketing channels
With personalization information in hand from the quiz, first taken advantage of via the email series, Nicklo said the next step was to take the "style personalities" campaign omnichannel, and then make it the focus of the customer experience across four different areas.
The team first established a steering committee and program champions, as well as developed training materials to educate all 700 Z Gallerie associates about the campaign. Store staff were given iPads to help customers take the quiz. To build momentum after the launch of the campaign, the marketing team created monthly product picks for each style personality, as well an “associate of the month spotlight” to share success stories.
"Starting in October, we began testing style personalities in digital ad channels as a call-to-action targeting new customers," Nicklo said. "Based on this success we launched broadly – in all digital advertising, in social media and on our website. In November, we emailed existing customers an invitation to take the quiz. It became our most-read email of the month (against even Black Friday) and KPI’s outperformed all averages."
He added the quiz results allowed the marketing team to target personalized emails and digital advertising with product recommendations tailored to each recipient’s style personality.
Z Gallerie's monthly catalog reaches hundreds of thousands of customers and prospects. The February 2016 issue – the first after the holiday season – integrated style personalities in a number of ways, including on the cover with an invitation to customers to take the quiz. The opening spread provided details about the program, and editorial pages highlighted compelling product ideas for each style personality. Nicklo said, given its success, future catalogs will continue this approach.
To raise awareness around the initiative beyond the home goods brand's consumer base, Z Gallerie teamed up with MyDomaine.com and Samantha Wennerstrom, blogger behind "Could I Have That?" For her part, Wennerstorm made over her master bedroom to reflect her and her husband's style personalities.
"All three partners created content that told the story of the makeover and invited their followers to take the style personalities quiz to learn about their style," Nicklo said.
The results of the style personalities campaign
To date, Z Gallerie's style personality quiz has been taken over 100,000 times, with more than 40% of the total from new customers. The key performance indicator the marketing team monitored was engagement, and results were positive across the areas measured:
Engagement - Prospective Customers
- Style personality text ads: 2 times engagement compared to the Z Gallerie average
- Style Personality display ads: 1.5 times engagement compared to the Z Gallerie average
- ROI: 2.3 times compared to the Z Gallerie average (and 3.2 times compared to the industry average)
Engagement - Existing Customers
- At launch the quiz invitation email was Z Gallerie’s most-opened email in November (even compared to Black Friday)
- 1.6 times engagement compared to Z Gallerie’s average
- 1.4 times average order value for customers engaging with the style personalities program
In terms of what the campaign taught the marketing team Nicklo said, “By thinking beyond marketing and by partnering with teams across the company, we created a brand-level idea with broad support. Working to integrate Style Personalities throughout the customer experience has fueled awareness, impact and results.”
He added that by using the quiz to engage with customers online and in-store, it made the effort more personal and started a dialog welcomed by their customers, and which they intend to continue over time.
Meanwhile, Curulate's Gupta believes the "Style Personalities" campaign shows the impact of visual content on personalized marketing campaigns. Gupta told Marketing Dive that by recognizing that the shopping journey has evolved and is not limited to any single touch point, retail marketers can improve their communications with consumers.
"By launching an image-led campaign that spans multiple channels, Z Gallerie is in an ideal position to accentuate their visual footprint while creating rich opportunities to influence purchase decisions across their social communities, print catalogs, and retail locations," Gupta said. "They deeply understand the impact visual content has on how consumers discover products, engage with brands, and ultimately shop."