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How JamesAllen.com marries email & remarketing to win over brides & grooms
The e-commerce jewelry site's CMO says both are pivotal to her brand's marketing strategy.
As the CMO for JamesAllen.com, a bridal jewelry e-commerce site most often associated with the classic engagement ring, Johanna Tzur says her brand is the world’s fastest-growing online retailer of diamond bridal jewelry.
“We focus on the engagement ring — that’s sort of the bread and butter of our business as the point of entry into our brand. And then, typically we upsell our wedding day jewelry and wedding brands,” says Tzur.
Once someone has connected with the brand, Tzur says the company’s marketing efforts are aimed at continuing the conversation via milestone events where diamond jewelry is relevant. According to Tzur, everything her team does is focused on the conversation with the consumer.
“Making them aware of our brand, driving traffic to our site, converting them into a customer, purchasing, having them refer our brand to others.”
When asked where remarketing fits into her marketing strategy, the CMO says it is pivotal to the brand’s overall objectives.
“If you think of the first thing they need to know about us and come to our site, everything else then becomes targeted, tailored remarketing,” says Tzur, “And conversion is 100 percent dependent on an elegant remarketing to that client. So I would say it is one of our most pivotal marketing levers.”
In today’s CMO’s View interview, Tzur gives an overview of her brand’s remarketing efforts — from how her team captures data and segments audiences to the platforms and martech solutions she has found most effective.
1. Remarketing should be a sequenced two-way conversation with the consumer — “listen” to what is most relevant based on on-site behaviors, and tailor content at each stage in the purchase journey.
2. Real remarketing begins when you segment these users/behaviors and create profiles to deliver the right message at the right time on highest impact placements.
3. Define clear KPI milestone targets for visitors along the customer journey, and be sure all site pages and other consumer touch points are tagged for optimal tracking.
Amy Gesenhues: Before we dig into your remarketing strategy, can you give me a broad overview of your digital marketing efforts?
Johanna Tzur: We think of all of our marketing as a conversation with the consumer. It just differs on the length of payout for performance.
Our KPIs are typically around the usual KPIs that you probably hear from all of the marketers that you speak to. What’s their cost for conversion? It’s not necessarily, in our case, looking at purchase immediately because of the fact that our purchase cycle is so long.
We think, on average, there’s a great range in the amount of time someone takes from the first moment they think they want to get engaged to the time they purchase the ring — three months up to nine months. Sometimes, it’s little bit quicker. Because of that, the metrics we use are events along that cycle within that multi-month period.
We’re watching it from the time a consumer first comes to our site — that’s how we determine what we believe is the right metric for that specific set of customers. Related to that, remarketing is typically our most cost-effective lever.
If you go back to that conversation we start with — we typically work with influencers, or create content that feels organic to the consumer, just letting them know generally that we exist. Then, we layer on the traffic driving element; these are the more demand-driven media levers like paid search, shopping, Pinterest.
We use a lot of Pinterest — that, in our world, is really visual search. And the female consumer, who’s very heavily influencing the process, typically spending time creating her boards, making sure that we’re on that.
And then, we’re starting the targeting once they come to our site. It’s at that point we really focus on segmenting the behaviors, and the profile of people who’ve come to our site. That’s when the real remarketing begins — very important for us to be clear on the profile of the consumer that comes in, so we can track them and understand the tailored messaging to give back to them.
AG: How are you capturing consumer data?
JT: For us, coding is just stage one of all of our efforts — to make sure that not just our site, but all of our touch points, all of the pages, are tagged, and all of our social channels are coded. We even have a showroom in our office in New York that we’re making sure the data of anyone coming there is pulled into the same database, as well as interactions with our call center.
AG: Once you’ve coded and tagged your touch points, how do your remarketing efforts unfold — and which platforms are you using most often to reach consumers?
JT: The remarketing strategies I mentioned first — none of it is worthwhile unless we can measure, right? So the tagging and the coding and flow-through of any touch point of our target audience is essential if anyone interacts with our brand.
But there’s also people who have yet to come to our brand, but have shown intent. So, pure searching on key terms like “engagement rings.” It’s important to note that it’s twofold — making sure they get retargeted as well as brought into the fold.
We have efforts to collect their email addresses once they come to our site so that we can be even more knowledgeable about who they are. Segmenting them, understanding how they came to our site, the source of traffic, the behaviors they’ve made on our site.
Gender is very important to us. We tailor the messaging based on what we’ve learned that a woman wants to know, and how she then influences — or doesn’t, or drop the hint, or not — the key end-purchaser, who is usually the male, or another female partner.
Valentine’s Day email campaign: Male vs. female messaging
And then, the amount of time they spent on our site since they first came to the site — that’s pivotal to our strategy.
Based on that, we tailor the messaging — and, I think this gets to your question, what do we use to then deliver that messaging — we use partners like Criteo who help us to deliver tailored ads sometimes through Facebook, sometimes through other display networks, where we have dynamic product ads that show the exact product they looked at on our site.
AG: Have any channels proven to be more effective than others?
JT: By far, our most effective remarketing tactic is our own emails.
We have a welcome series program for those who have provided their email address. We have fairly sophisticated and detailed messaging they get from us as they go through a period of time after having come to our site. We have another email partner who helps us to deliver very specific emails related to very specific behaviors that they have done on our site.
I’ve worked in online banking. I worked in consumer products. I worked in personal care, and a lot of different categories — I have never seen such heavy email interaction and engagement. Once you’re in, especially the guy, once he’s decided that he’s in this, he’s in it — he’s in a deep period of education.
Typically, someone who’s self-selected to do this online wants to self-research. One of our segments is the “uber researcher.” He is truly into the process and wants to learn everything himself, and email is perfect for this.
You’re providing them a series of educational emails, highlighting products he has gone to see. Products similar to what he’s looked at also bring open rates and click-through rates, extremely high compared to anything I’ve seen before.
AG: Can you walk me through a recent remarketing campaign?
JT: So, we talk about that long purchase cycle — the amount of time spent between someone buying an engagement ring and then getting married is actually much longer than we had originally thought.
We ran a test while we were having a Black Friday sale to go to customers who hadn’t unsubscribed up to 15 months, and offer them the sale offer for a wedding ring. We provided them an email customized to their engagement — now, the time around their wedding — providing them this promotion around wedding bands.
We had our highest open rates, click-through and highest conversion. When I speak about conversion, I’m talking about pure purchases from that email.
Black Friday email campaign
It was eye-opening for us to see how long, how relevant, our messaging continues to be for awhile after. This is not something to upsell 45 days later.
You are probably hearing a trend here of a challenge that we deal with — and it’s very related to remarketing with what we sell — which is a very long purchase cycle, but it is also sometimes a bit secretive. So, how frequently and how sensitively to remarket is a very fine balance we’re constantly having to deal with. In any given time, we have competitors not just online, but the stores, and we have to be very careful that we catch them in that window of time when they are about to buy.
This is not buying a pair of shoes, or checking out that skirt that you love and keep going back to see if it’s on sale — you don’t mind being remarketed to on a daily basis. The frequency of retesting has to be very nuanced, and how you speak to him versus how you speak to the partner also needs to be balanced.
It’s a choreographed dance in terms of the messaging for remarketing.
AG: How do you overcome those challenges?
JT: Some of it is just how we make the content. First of all, we try, in any creative brief, to go around this idea that there’s an enormous amount of joy, but anxiety in the process. We try to use a nice balance of emotion and humor. In the process of our remarketing emails, we infuse that.
Most companies are just directly trying to sell that product you’ve been looking at. We say, “Need a break from ring spinning? Here’s a little comic relief,” and we provide them with a video. Then, a couple days later, we might send them something trying to stay useful and relevant, and put ourselves in the mindset, “Here are some rings that you might not have seen that fall in your budget, or were viewed by others looking at similar rings.”
Then we have the far more targeted “Don’t forget about what’s in your wish-list” window showing email. We’ve seen very high conversion rates and hugely low unsubscribes.
It’s thinking of everything in sequence of a conversation, and not in the one-offs. First we want to message them, then we want to tell them this. It’s the whole sequencing that’s super-important to us because we have time to do it in that multi-month path — multi-month for the first purchase, and we’re talking a year-plus for the next one.
AG: What have you learned about your audience through your remarketing efforts?
JT: For sure, like I mentioned, the long cycle of engagement to wedding ring, and the wedding ring purchase and bridal day jewelry. That long purchase cycle means we can take learnings and make adjustments in real time that affect those we remarket to, and then future potential customers.
So, understanding that we shouldn’t be remarketing wedding rings immediately after this enormous diamond purchase was made — that we have a longer time to continue the message. That is also a time when we try to double down on having customers refer friends. We have our own in-house panel, what we call brand ambassadors, as well. These are customers who’ve agreed to help us with influencing everything we do from a remarketing angle, including the content of our emails.
So yes, engagement with our remarketing efforts informs us on content, delivery, everything as it pertains to those things further down the funnel. It is also critical for optimizing our marketing dollars. Every metric that we have has a timeline — whether it’s expecting return in one month, or expecting return in six months, or, on some of the more brand-building initiatives, sometimes 12-plus months.
We are constantly moving dollars back and forth from an overall bucket. Saying this initiative has not performed so we are now moving this over to bucket X where we believe it will perform better because it outspent this lever. Remarketing is critical for optimizing that. We know that hearing about us one time is just not enough.
When we have that long sale cycle, and the tremendous consideration given to each element, we have more time to determine what is the optimal marketing piece, distribution placement, angle, and the message that goes inside to remind the customer who we are, what we stand for, why we’re the best choice.
AG: Beyond your brand, how do you see remarketing, and the martech involved, serving e-commerce as a whole?
JT: Remarketing is one of the most essential elements of marketing for e-commerce. Your goal is to try to create the most customized, relevant, compelling experience for a target audience. Remarketing allows you to do that the most cost-effectively and most on point.
There’s so much information about the consumer with tagging and other technologies that we know about the target customer. We know they’re interested in us. They’ve already come into our shop, so to speak, and now it’s just about making sure that everything is relevant, enjoyable and valuable for the consumer — and remarketing lets you do that.
Remarketing gives you the information you need — a) that they’re interested in your brand, and b) all the other behaviors they’re performing on your site. The products they’ve been interested in. The time frame. Their gender allows you to be able to give them the optimal experience, and that is a win-win for the consumer.
They’re not wasting their time, and they’re hopefully getting the most compelling experience from the marketer. We are not wasting our time and giving the wrong messages to the wrong person at the wrong time. Everything we do is the opposite — trying to get to the right ear, to the right eyeballs with the right message at the right time, and in the most enjoyable way.
And I do emphasize that because our goal here is not just, “We’re building a brand.” We’re a young brand, and we’re trying to build the best shopping experience online for diamond bridal jewelry, and remarketing allows us to do that.