Episode 2: Focusing on retention while prepping for Black Friday Cyber Monday- are you crazy?

Podcast 2

On this episode of Retention Chronicles, Kat Gordon, Head of Customer Success at Malomo, Sarah and Mariah discuss customer retention as it pertains to Black Friday Cyber Monday. We first focus on why it is important to concentrate on customer retention during the hectic holiday season. Obviously, brands want to keep the customers they gain during the holiday season and maintain those they already have. Kat, Sarah, and Mariah discuss some strategies on how to do exactly that. We first kick it off by covering how to adjust and troubleshoot, why it's smart to optimize for mobile, as well as how to handle a surge in website traffic and shipping fulfillment. Then, we dive into some initiatives to reward loyal customers, from both the customer service and marketing side. Then to finish out the episode we dive into the post-purchase experience and how to provide the best support possible to increase customer retention. Stay tuned till the end to hear Sarah and Kat’s advice as to what they have carried with them from each holiday season to the next and for the fact check where I will make sure we cover all the bases we ran through in this episode.

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Mariah Parsons, Kat Gordon, Sarah Leitz

Mariah Parsons 00:02

Hello, and welcome to Retention Chronicles, a podcast sponsored by Malomo, a shipment tracking platform that helps ecommerce brands turn order tracking from a cost center into a profitable marketing channel. Here at Malomo, one of our core values is to constantly be learning about something new. So our marketing team consisting of Sarah Leitz, our Head of Marketing here at Malomo, and Mariah Parsons, an Orr Fellow working with Sarah on the marketing team, have set out to do exactly that. And we hope that you join us. We will be discussing everything that surrounds customer retention, what it is, why it's important, how it fluctuates, how it grows, what you can get out of it, and so much more. In this episode of Retention Chronicles, Kat Gordon, Head of Customer Success at Malomo, Sarah and I discuss customer retention as it pertains to Black Friday Cyber Monday, we first speak as to why it is even important to still focus on customer retention, while in the hectic holiday season. Obviously, brands want to keep the customers they gain during the holiday season, and to maintain those that already have. Kat, Sarah, and I discussed some strategies on how to do exactly that. We first kick it off by covering how to adjust and troubleshoot, why it's smart to optimize for mobile, as well as how to handle a surge in website traffic and shipment fulfillment. Then we dive into some initiatives to reward loyal customers from both the customer service and marketing side of things. Then, to finish out the episode, we dive into the post-purchase experience, and how to provide the best possible support to increase customer retention. Stay tuned until the end to hear Sarah and Kat's advice as to what they've carried with them from each holiday season to the next and for the fact check, where I'll make sure that we cover all the bases we ran through in this episode. So today, we have Sarah and Kat Gordon, who is our Head of Customer Success here at Malomo, and we're so excited to share some of our precious time together, you know, we're really happy that you welcomed the idea of coming on the podcast. So welcome Kat, and we're so happy that you're here.

Kat Gordon 02:14

Thank you excited to be here.

Mariah Parsons 02:16

And today, we're going to be talking all about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and focusing on customer retention as well as an acquisition but really making sure that we fill in those gaps. So Kat and Sarah, you know, you've both worked with so many different brands, and you've seen what works and sometimes what doesn't. So I'm excited to get both into the Customer Relations and Customer Success side of things and also Marketing. So first, we're gonna run through, you know, why you should focus on customer retention during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and discuss a couple of things that brands should highlight during this time. So why should brands even begin to shift their focus to retention during Black Friday? In the last episode, Sarah and I discussed, you know, we already went over the higher acquisition costs, but one constant reason, um, and that's always one constant reason as to focus on customer retention. But another reason during the holiday season to really focus on customer retention is because there are so many different brands and so much competition as you're trying to get customers and there's increased traffic to your site. So, Kat what has been, you know, some of the things that you've seen that have been successful for brands shifting their focus to customer retention during the holiday season and prepping?

Kat Gordon 03:45

Yeah, well, it's such an important time to really think about that customer journey at the post-purchase. And, to think about, as you said, there's so many different ecommerce brands or even you know, in-store brands that customers can shop with that, this time when customers are so aware and they're so passionate about their order, and when it's going to be there. This is the time to really wow them and to keep them to show them that you care about them and keep them coming back. So focusing on retention during this time. It really pays dividends back for the rest of the year. And you don't even really have to devote a ton of resources to it. It's really just being really thoughtful with thinking about all those touchpoints that the customer has- when they order after they order, how you're getting their order to them- that you can really show off, that you are thinking about them that you do care about it, that you care about them as much as you care about your product.

Sarah Leitz 05:11

Yeah, I mean, I think just that acquisition, we talked about this in the last episode, but the acquisition is so expensive. So then if you don't care what you know what Kat's talking about, if you don't care about what the experience is like, if you don't care about what happens after you spent so much just for a one time purchase, and like Kat mentioned, it's, it's a really stressful time for everyone. And when you ordered, you know, what you thought is the perfect gift for your mother in law, or somebody who maybe is, is really, has really high expectations, and you have no idea where it is, and you don't know if it's gonna arrive on time arrive in time for the party that you have scheduled, or whatever it may be, you're just adding to that, that stressful time. And I think a lot of the direct-to-consumer brands, and any place that you shop is trying to make things easier for their customers and kind of remove some of that stress during the holidays. So I think, you know, just to reiterate, again, saying just be thoughtful about all of those different touchpoints and making sure you can make that as easy and, you know, less stress as possible.

Mariah Parsons 06:16

Yeah, yeah,

Kat Gordon 06:18

Customers are so, I mean, everybody is so keyed into the shopping and the shopping experience during this part of the year that they're gonna, they're paying attention to it much more. So even, even if things aren't going, you know, if you have shipping delays or things that are, you know, product as back-ordered, or things that even could be problems, if you're messaging it in a way that you're you're being transparent, you're getting ahead of things that really, that's really meaningful to your customers, and they understand and appreciate that kind of effort that you did during that time. And they'll remember that at other times, because everybody knows it's a busy time of year, everybody knows that, it's probably hard for everybody. So if you if you can show them that you're that intentional during that time, you're going to get them back much easier during the non-busy times and the times that you want them to come when you want them to come in January, February, they're going to come back because of that experience.

Mariah Parsons 07:29

Yeah, I love that one thing that you mentioned, the proactive messaging, and really being thoughtful, I'd love to dive deeper into that. Because I do think that these touchpoints that you have with these customers are of more value during the holiday season, because there's a certain expectation that, you know, you want things to go flawlessly, there's this rush to get all the gifts in, and all this competition around the best deals or whatnot. But sometimes it is the simple things that matter most to customers. And that's really what's gonna grow the long-term loyalty and customer retention. So along with proactive messaging, what have you seen, Kat, that is, you know, been successful as to how you can go about proactive messaging around shipping or around delays, or around just general information towards each client and each customer.

Kat Gordon 08:24

Yeah. So I think customers really want as much information as they can get on all sides, both pre-purchase and post-purchase. And especially, you know, during the holiday season, they want to know, you know, if they're, if this is a limited edition, and there's only a certain amount in stock, they want to know that, they want to, they want to know when they should, when they need to purchase that buy, they want to have an idea of when it's going to be fulfilled, they want to have some sort of idea of how long it's going to take to ship. And those are all hard things to know. But if you can, if you can, if you can take the time to get that information for your business and be able to share that with customers, it really gives them so much more trust in being able to purchase with you rather than going to, you know, a big box store down the street where they can get their hands on it right away on a lesser quality thing that they don't really want, they want yours. But there's, you know, they know they can have it that way. So being able to share as much information pre-purchase to share that trust and then keep them updated along the way. So if you can, you know, share that information in the order confirmation, you know, if if, you know your fulfillment times are running longer than normal, you know, share that with them if you know, deliveries are I mean, I'm coming into this with the vein of we had tons of terrible shipping delays last year because of COVID. And, and everything that was happening in the E commerce world. So I mean that it was kind of a mess. And but the more that you can tell your customers make sure that they're aware, they feel like they know what's going on, they're going to give you a lot of grace that way. They don't expect every brand to be miracle workers or be Amazon, to be frank, so they, but just being able to share that information with them, that lets them know that you are aware of it, you're thinking about it, you're thinking about them. And they will, I think be very thankful for that. So sharing as much information as you can thinking about timelines, and when being really transparent when a customer needs to order so they can get it at a specific time. And then, and then those proactive messages of, you know, if, if there's a delay on the fulfillment side if you know, there are delays with your main carriers, being able to use, you know, Malomo, and have those delays on the carrier side, or the package side of being able to really specifically tell a customer when their packages delayed, those things all really help.

Mariah Parsons 11:25

I love that. And Amazon really does set the standard for you, you know, quick and proactive messaging, quick delivery. And Sarah, I'd love to know more from the Marketing side how proactive messaging can really engage customers during that holiday season.

Sarah Leitz 11:42

Yeah, um, you know, like Kat talked about the, the pre-sale side of things can be really important too, for like customer retention, and just being proactive on messaging, but having those drop deadlines, where you need to order by this date to get your package by Christmas, or whatever it might be, that can be not only really great information to give your customers but also a reason for them to purchase now, you know, so they know that, oh, you can't wait a couple more days. And then you have to spend, you know, more on acquisition more on ads more and all that kind of stuff, but being able to tell the customer exactly what they need to know. And, you know, Kat mentioned the ship-mageddon that we had last year. And who knows what's gonna happen this year, too. I mean, COVID did not go away like I think a lot of people thought it was going to this year. And so I think, you know, we may have some similar situations where people are going to be buying more and more online more than maybe they thought they were going to this year. So we'll see how a lot of those changes happen. But Kat's right, if you, if you can give customers that information upfront when you know it as quickly as possible, they are going to give you a lot more grace than you know, even when things happen not in your best interest when there are shipment delays. If you tell them they'll they'll be happier with you because you told them then wondering what is going on and where things are. And if they'll ever get it in time.

Kat Gordon 13:11

Absolutely. And, and you're helping yourself on the support side too. Because they're they're not just going to sit there and wonder. If they don't know they'll be reaching out to you on all your social media. So if the extra benefit of being proactive is that you are hopefully saving your internal team as well. Because they're likely slammed with trying to make sure that those packages are going out and everything is working. So if they have to answer the 5,000 'Where's my package?' Tickets a day that's a huge headache.

Sarah Leitz 13:50

Yeah, if you think people are hypersensitive now to where their packages just add on the stress of the holidays. And it amplifies by like tenfold.

Mariah Parsons 14:00

You know, being proactive for the holiday season just to try and combat any of those pressures or stressors that can arise you know, during the hecticness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, what would you suggest is a way that brands can go about doing that because I think proactive messaging is great. But if you're a smaller brand, I can imagine it would be a little bit overwhelming to try and talk about especially if this is you know, your first Black Friday or second as a brand. So Kat you can go first if you'd like to suggest you know what you've seen other brands do or what you think as Head of Customer Success, you know what you've seen the efficient and great for brands?

Kat Gordon 14:43

Yeah. So actually before I joined Malomo, I ran my own ecommerce store. So I have some experience on the other side of this equation with you know, trying to run the shop and answer everything during the Black Friday season. Um, and when I started, it was a smaller brand like it is, you know we can, right now with like the tools of Malomo and Klaviyo, we can create really thoughtful and kind of complex flows for keeping customers aware. But that might not be something like you said that you can start with when you're a smaller team, and you're just getting started. So some things I've seen is, is updating, kind of, cohorts of customers. So if there's, you know, I think it really depends on what your fulfillment strategy is during that time. And there are some customers that you know, are fulfilling, kind of, they need to fulfill on specific days of the week, or if it's just constant every day. So there's, there's some way of, of, if you can't kind of proactively segment those customers, you can kind of update them based on the timing of when they ordered, or if it's a specific carrier. If you're seeing like last year, we saw kind of the most delays happening with USPS. So, you know, directing, instead of just blasting all of your customers at once, try to at least segment as much as you can into either customer that you fulfilled with a certain shipping speed or carrier status, or, you know, customers that ordered that week. If you can segment it down more, or, you know, using a tool like Malomo, and Klaviyo together and being able to send notifications based on that specific package, that's great, too. But just, instead of just kind of blasting everybody-try to segment it a bit, I think that works really well. And then keeping the website up to date as much as possible, because people are definitely going to go there, they want to see, they're going to go back to your FAQs and check that shipping and return section as much as possible. So you know, if you are seeing that, you know, your standard shipping times have gone up by a week and it takes two weeks, you know, keep that updated, pop up, you know, the banner ads at the top, those are really popular during busy seasons, because you can just update that as much as possible. And you can also have them kind of show for specific pages. So if your customers are going back to that support page, you can really tailor you know, they're looking for shipping information, or they're looking for that kind of information.

Mariah Parsons 17:44

Yeah, that's great. And Sarah, I'd love to hear, you know, what you would have to say about brands being proactive and how they can actually go about that.

Sarah Leitz 17:54

Yeah, you know, I think especially those smaller brands that can't maybe afford those complicated systems, or maybe they just don't have time to like work with Klaviyo and do those complicated flows. Something as easy as like having a good order confirmation email, making sure that you say thank you, making sure you give them information, remind them of maybe shipping day delays, maybe tell them a little bit more about how long it might take them to get the package if you even if you already have it on the website, you know, reiterating that message sharing that right away, making sure that you share the shipping confirmation make it you know, even if it's just when a labels created, and maybe it hasn't gotten out the door, then you explain what that means you're explaining that it hasn't left the building yet, but you've created a label. And obviously, you know, put a little plugin there for Malomo, we can handle all those things. But if you can't work with us, yeah, there you are a smaller brand. You know, it's just been really thoughtful about what communication you can do providing them as much information as possible. But don't be so worried that they won't read it. You know, I think sometimes you put in like these long paragraphs about what's going on. And if you just say, you know, usually it takes two weeks for you to get your package from Order to Delivery. Maybe don't go into a ton of detail about what else is going on. But just simple little updates about those things. And Kat's really right too like those banners at the top of the page, you know, when you go to look at a product and you say you need to order it by this date to get it by Christmas, and you pass that date but this is when it may arrive or something like that. Just making sure that you keep all that information updated, I think is really, really important. And, you know, checking up with customers after the product arrives too I think is important. Just to make sure that it they're happy with it that they realize it was on their porch and hopefully somebody didn't steal it or whatever it may be just making sure that you kind of like follow up with people on those important parts of the process.

Kat Gordon 19:57

Yeah, that's a great point. I think people do often forget the real estate of those order confirmation and shipping emails that in, especially during, especially during this time, customers are opening those emails, they have such high open rates, they're looking at it. So like Sarah said, that's a, that's a great place to keep it fresh, update it and put the latest information in there because you know, your customer is gonna open that and look at it, where they might not open, kind of an order update or marketing blast up at that time. So yeah, I think that's a great idea.

Mariah Parsons 20:42

And we've discussed, you know, updating websites to proactively message and make sure that customers have all the information that you can give them. And I would love to dive into that a little bit deeper and discuss how brands can ensure that their website can handle an uptick in the traffic that's coming to their web page, and to make sure to optimize for mobile buying and searching. Because we have seen especially with COVID last year, there was such an uptick in mobile transactions. And so Kat, you know, because you work with so many of our brands troubleshooting on the customer success side of things, what would be your suggestions for brands to make sure that their website can handle an uptick and they're not, a brand, isn't overwhelmed during Black Friday, Cyber Monday?

Kat Gordon 21:37

Yeah. Um, so definitely, when you mentioned, you know, thinking about design, mobile-first, that's definitely a big thing that we stress with customers, you know, we can deal with a customer and designing a super beautiful tracking page. But because we're all on our, our laptops or desktops, that's the view that we see it the most, but a majority of their customers are going to look on their mobile. So it's really easy in our day-to-day when you're, especially if you know, you're looking at your ecommerce admin, and you're tweaking things, it's super easy to just get stuck on what it looks like, and the usability that way. So definitely, making sure you are really testing any new pages, any product pages, making sure that it not only looks good on mobile but like you said, it's easy to purchase. Obviously, that's the most important and, you know, it's tricky if we're advising you to have lots of information on the page and be really transparent, but also, you can't put too much information on the page and overwhelm them and not then not know how to actually buy the package or buy the product. So being thoughtful of how you can add that information to the page in a way that doesn't kind of overwhelm mobile phone like visually but still makes it really clear of how they can kind of add that to their cart, making sure you're if it's pretty popular to have kind of cart add-ins or apps like that, that might kind of give additional information but make sure that you're testing that on mobile, that pop-ups and things like that aren't blocking things you know it can be pretty frustrating as a shopper to be on your phone and then have the email pop up and another promo pop up and you have to click things off to be able to even get back to your cart so make sure that those all of those kinds of campaigns and everything's that you're running do test it on your mobile devices since we see I believe it's at least 60% or higher are going to be looking at that on mobile. I'll let Sarah talk about making sure websites are not overwhelmed I think that's more in her wheelhouse

Sarah Leitz 24:11

Yeah, I think it probably really depends on how you're hosting your website making sure that you have a good host that there aren't gonna be crashes I mean there are so many places you can host a website and a lot of places do have not the great ability to be up and running on those big surges so there's a lot of like articles you can Google where you're hosting your website to see if there have been outages and see how like it's kind of ranked and see all that kind of stuff but even optimization you can use Google Search Console and check on the core web vitals and it'll show you on mobile, how things are doing if there are URLs to be improved, which ones are like really optimized on the mobile side of things I know, Mariah, we've been talking about that on our website lately, so that sounds familiar to you. But it's a really great way to just kind of see what is going on what is maybe slowing some pages down what is Google not thinking is really optimized for that page. But that's right, there's nothing that's better than you just going on each of those pages yourself and seeing what it looks like on your mobile phone, you can do as much as you want from your desktop but until you see it on mobile, you're like, oh, this, you know, Google doesn't care about this, but it's horrible user experience. And I don't know how many times like, you know, the little hamburger dropped down, something blocks that and you can't get there. And it seems to happen all the time on websites. And you know, making sure like that top navigation doesn't get interfered with is something that seems really simple, but happens all the time to different brands.

Kat Gordon 25:52

Yeah. And testing and in different browsers to know, when we're testing and tracking page before we push it live, we're testing it, not only on different devices but also the different browsers because you can forget that. And you know, maybe you're a safari diehard, but other people use Firefox or Chrome, and they all can behave their own little quirks. So thinking about that, just to make sure. I think the other thing, kind of in the overwhelmed, you know, risks is not just the site, but also your support team. So thinking really, about how you want to offer support during that time. I know when I owned my company, there was a Christmas where I was doing live chat. But that was a very bad idea for me, because it was, you know, a very small team at that time. And, and we were overwhelmed with a fulfillment company that was not doing a great job and had some carrier delays and things like that. So we ended up being overwhelmed with kind of the internal process. But then still customers expected we were, you know, advertising live chat, they expected that. So that can get really tricky. So just be prepared of having that plan of if, if you're going to offer live chat, is that actually something you can do and devote those resources to. If not, can you use some sort of chatbot or AI. There's a lot of different ways that customers can reach out to you now I mean, can you can connect in Messenger, there are all your social media channels that you're definitely going to get questions. I mean, we see our brands, you know, I'll look at some of their Instagram posts. And it's this awesome, very cool content, and like 50% of the comments are 'where is what I just ordered', 'What's this'. People will use whatever means they can to contact you. So be prepared of making sure you have resources to check those areas. And how you want to, you know, if you want to funnel everything into email, so you can respond there, just making sure you have that plan in place.

Mariah Parsons 28:16

I love the idea of being aware of what your brand specifically can do and the resources that you have. Because I do think that is very important. Of course, if you're a newer brand as well, just starting out, but for even for bigger brands, just having that awareness of you know, this is how we're going to approach really anything but the holiday strategy. And this is also so fascinating to me, because you know, some of these things I've never thought about, with this being a newer field for me. And one thing that I was thinking about was the element of how a smooth checkout process and overall sales process can really grow that trust between a brand and the customer. And I think that's what's so intriguing about Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that it's expected that you get rewarded for being a loyal customer. And then you get these, you know, secret deals or for some reason, it's just every brand. Now it's the standard that you have to have good deals to compete with all these other brands. So, Sarah, I'd love to perhaps have you speak about this, first of what are some, you know, great marketing initiatives that'll drive that customer retention, and reward that customer loyalty?

Sarah Leitz 29:33

Yeah, there's a lot of ways to do it. But I think first you probably want to make sure that you're rewarding the customers who are already really purchasing from you. It's great if you offer rewards for new customers that are joining on a Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and I'm sure that can add a lot of benefits but you know, the customers who are already purchasing from you and probably maybe have a subscription or purchase from you really often, those are the people who are already really excited about your brand. They're people that you want to share your product with their family, their friends, all that other kind of stuff. So if you can have some sort of rewards or discount or whatever, around the holidays, maybe specifically for those customers, I think that's a really great way to kind of expand your brand, with some of your most excited customers. You know, a lot of times people just will have like a 25% off across the board. And that's a great idea too, because I feel like it's something everybody really has to do, or some sort of discount around Black Friday, Cyber Monday. But maybe having different tiers of what that looks like maybe there is something just across the board. But if you can give those loyal customers maybe a little bit more, a little extra, not only do you make them feel even more special about what's going on, but probably more excited to be able to share that with all the their friends and family as well. But there are so many different like rewards programs, there are ones, you also have to make it meaningful, though, too, because they're the ones where like, you have to get points, but you need like 2000 points. And that's like $2,000 worth of purchases to get $5 off. Nobody is going to care about that. Like nobody, even if they really liked your product, that's cool. And maybe they'll get there someday, but it has no real value. So if you're going to do something like that, you have to think about why are you going to do it. Does it actually add any value? Does it make people want to purchase more, I mean, sometimes, you know that you can get a certain amount off, if you purchase a certain dollar amount, because you got a point level. I mean, think about Sephora, I don't know if anybody else has done this before, there are times where I purchase like $5 more, because you know, you're going to get those points, and then that gets you into a bracket where you can buy something else, like a free mascara or whatever, they do a really good job with it. And there are so many other different brands that do that. I mean, the one that I'm a little snob about is delta, a huge giant brand. But I've had a lot of different jobs where I've traveled a lot. And you know, it's to that point where I have so many points and status or whatever, I will not fly in anywhere else. Unless there's like a huge price discrepancy, or I can't, it's just I'm so invested in that one brand, that it makes it really hard and a big difference to try to switch to something else. So you got to think about like what you can really add value to customers and what would be super exciting for them to like, realize that they're so embedded with your brand, that switching is just not worth it.

Kat Gordon 32:37

Yeah, yeah. And along those lines to have what, what really makes sense for your, the products that you offer to so if you are you that has only a few skews or has a really kind of tight group of products, it might not make sense to have a loyalty program based on you know, points and how much you can buy. And because you can't really add small, small purchase, a shopper can't add on something like that. So doing programs that maybe pivoted to like maybe you're trying to get subscribers and you're trying to build it that way. And maybe you're adding you're offering deals or loyalty around moving from that kind of on-demand one time purchaser to being a subscriber and you get extra things like that. And I've seen we have a customer For Love And Lemons who does have an annual sale every I believe it's kind of the first couple weeks of November. So they actually kind of move up their holiday season and are really intentional about it and promoting this very big annual sale that they their customers know this is coming. They do it every year they do this sale. And then they're kind of controlling their own destiny there with how busy they are during this holiday season. And I think their shoppers get excited too, because they're getting that deal earlier, which means they can purchase earlier, they can kind of plan their shopping a little bit earlier, all that stuff. And likely they're still buying, they're probably still buying even more later. So I've seen a lot of brands that are actually trying to be more intentional with moving their sales up or offering some of those discounts earlier so that they're not competing with everybody during that Black Friday time. And maybe it's like you have a site wide sale or a really specific sale earlier in November. And then you're offering very kind of strategic deals during Black Friday where you're still offering some sort of discount, but maybe it's on a very specific collection or product. And it's not kind of big encompass compassing deals that you often see. So I think that's becoming pretty, pretty popular right now in ecommerce. And I think it's kind of in competition with this, the sales you see at big box stores and things like that, where it's just everything's off in store. And it's during this time for this kind of lets customers come to the site earlier being really intentional about it, and then they can continue to go back kind of later throughout the season. So that I think works really well for For Love And Lemons.

Mariah Parsons 35:38

Yeah, I think those are awesome ideas and remarks of, you know, kind of bending the holiday season a little bit to what works for your brand. And that's a great example with For Love And Lemons. And one thing too, that seems perhaps, on the more simple side is making sure that there's a gift card option, as well, because I've even noticed, you know, I go to buy from a brand sometimes, and I'm like, Oh, I'm getting something for my sister, for my dad, or someone, and I'm not sure what color or flavor they're gonna like, or whatnot, but I love the brand. So I find it's just easier to sometimes get a gift card and say like, Hey, look, you go explore it and see what you'll like best. But this is my gift to you. And sometimes there isn't even that option for a gift card. So I think that's also just one other way that, you know, you can reward loyal customers, because you're saying, hey, look like I know you really appreciate the brand and you want to share with them, but you might not know exactly what is best for the person you're giving the gift to. And that seems like just such an easy add on that a brand can initiate into their strategy to really help reward those loyal customers, but perhaps take a bit of the pressure off of, you know, whoever's doing the buying.

Kat Gordon 36:53

Yeah, absolutely. I think I think that's absolutely true. I think one thing I've noticed, with gift cards, too, it's also kind of going back to that like giving a customer all the knowledge you can I know everybody's you know, you're concerned like, okay, what are the actual logistics of this gift card? If I should put the customer's name, should I put my friend's email address? Should I put mine? Are they going to send it to them? Are they going to see all that stuff. And so there's also, like, if you run a subscription business, or it's like a month, you know, monthly club Box of the Month type thing, which is, that's the kind of company I ran. So it wasn't just gift cards, it was like you sold a three month subscription or six months subscription. And, you know, they don't want the person to actually know how much that cost. They just want to know that. So being able on that product page before they purchase, share, what's going to happen, who's going to get that email address how they're going to send it if there's some other options, you can, I know Shopify offers, based on your plan, you can kind of add on to that. And maybe you can customize that look and feel of the card. But that's really helpful too, in kind of helping people feel better about purchasing that gift card right away when they know who's going to get the email how it's going to get delivered.

Mariah Parsons 38:26

I think that's a great point. And you know, something that I wouldn't even think about before.

Kat Gordon 38:31

I get a lot of questions about this. I'm passionate about it. Yeah. If if anybody has has sold gift cards or gift subscriptions, you know, you get a lot of questions of who is this actually going to? How are they going to get it. So anything you can give people around that makes it just easier for them to buy in those kind of last minutes.

Mariah Parsons 38:53

And I mean, that's exactly why you know, you're here chatting and sharing all this info with us. I'd love to maybe segue a little bit and discuss how you've seen brands really shift their post-purchase experience and how they can change what products they're advertising or have different campaigns that they start during the holiday season. Because I do think that's also a crucial part, you know, like having limited edition products or these holiday-specific initiatives that they're having. So I'm hoping you'll, share even more wisdom about what you've seen brands do.

Kat Gordon 39:36

Yeah so this is kind of the time of the year where brands are really starting to think about this and starting to kind of put a plan in place of when that content is going to change, how it's gonna change. Probably the most common thing is, like you said, changing the products that we're kind of featuring or focusing on on the tracking pages. So usually there are if there's kind of specific holiday products or collections, bundles are big for a lot of companies. So if you're bundling, kind of thinking about everything and more that gift mentality and bundling some of your products into special bundles, about something that's kind of popular to showcase, gift, gift lists, gifts ideas, so if you're spending that time kind of creating a gift, a gift list for your customers, that's something that we will often promote for a lot of brands this time of year. So that's kind of what if when you're kind of, that's what we see on the kind of like landing pages and tracking pages of trying to really kind of showcase that what gifts that are available new products, new collections, and then I know a lot of customers are thinking about it in regards to price categories. So if you have the ability to show a variety of prices at different price points, that's really helpful, especially, you know, what we see with our customers is that their shoppers will go to the tracking page, they're looking to see where their order is. And on the tracking page, we're showing them maybe lower price point or things that are can entice them to kind of immediate repurchase and we've got really high repurchase rates from the tracking page. People are, you know, if they're really excited, engage with their brand, they're absolutely going to buy from you like, even when they haven't gotten their first package, which is kind of mind-blowing, but we all do it for all excited. Um, so those are, those are things we see a lot. Certainly any, if you have, if you're like For Love And Lemons, or any brand that maybe you have kind of a dedicated sales time, or if you're kind of moving your holiday sales window up. Which it does seem like everybody's moving it up higher and higher. So like, we're promoting that sale. And then if there's any kind of other initiative that you're really trying, if you're trying to get customers to be subscribers, or if you're really trying to get more customers into kind of a specific initiative, that's kind of what we'll focus on. We usually like to tell customers to kind of think about, like, what's the main action you want to drive? That's usually what we're thinking about, kind of in general year, but I think that's something to really keep in mind during that season. Is it? Are you really just trying to get as many repeat purchases as you can? Or are you more focused on that retention and making an experience? And in keeping those new customers you have really happy? Or are you trying to drive them to SMS sign up, or some other type of initiative like that. So trying to be kind of focused because they're, they're going to be all over the place and bombarded with a lot of different content.

Mariah Parsons 43:27

Yeah, I agree. It's definitely a balance, you know, of trying to find what works. And maybe Sarah, you can speak to this of a brand, you know, they are changing their products or launching a specific holiday campaign, but how can brands ensure that they aren't, you know, bombarding customers or losing customers, you know, and mass marketing initiatives, and perhaps, like, send better and more proactive messaging to their customers.

Sarah Leitz 43:55

I think it's a really touchy subject, because, you know, sometimes things really work really well, like emails, maybe have really great open rates. So the temptation there is to send as many as possible because you want as many customers as possible. But I think you also have to look at the trends. Like if you're increasing your emails around the holiday season, which everybody does, and you're increasing your ads, you have to start looking at the the metrics for it, are less people opening it are more people unsubscribing or less people spending time on it, are people not opening them at all? And I know it's harder to track some of that with some of the iOS changes. But you still have some data around the the different things that you're doing, or less ads getting clicked on or less ads, you know, leading to sales and making sure that there's that kind of balance of what you're doing and are you getting the outcomes that you're looking for? I think the temptation is always to do more of what works and sometimes what works works because of the timing that you have and, and how thoughtful you are about it. So there's, it's different for every brand. And I know things work different for everybody, some brands are really getting really great open rates. So they'll just keep doing the same thing. But it's about being again, thoughtful about what you're doing, and making sure that, you know, maybe you're promoting the type of products that you know, your customers will want because of purchases that they've already made or web pages that they've been on. And you're not just sending mass emails that have nothing to do with their wants and what they care about. I think you also have to think about the timing of things like Kat said, Christmas is coming earlier and earlier. And you know, especially when like the world kind of sucks, people want the holidays, people want, you know, Christmas, they want whatever holiday that they're celebrating. And I know I think I started decorating in like October, which is way weird for me. But I was not the only one. Like a lot of people. A lot of people all over the city I lived in were starting to do it. And I'm wondering if something will be very similar to this year. You know, being being thoughtful about the communications that you send to people maybe like For Love And Lemons doing something earlier in the season, so that you can get people to start thinking about their approach. But I can't give a silver bullet for what will really work for every different brand. Because I think everybody is selling to a different group of people who like and tolerate kind of different things. I think it's just about understanding what you're already doing. And what really works well for you and doing something along those lines, that isn't a giant, you know, like 3x emails that you're doing, because that won't work. Just because something works really well at the level you're doing it again, does not mean that you should do a ton more and expect the same same kind of results.

Mariah Parsons 46:58

Yeah, for sure. I think that's a common theme of just knowing what will work for your brand. And I think an important part that plays into that is not only are you prepping so much for the holiday season, but then after it's all over. And of course everyone takes a big breath in and exhales it out. It's important to reflect on you know, what worked for your brand. And hopefully there's, you know, not many things that didn't work, but I don't think any brand is perfect. So reflecting on what worked and where to move forward, especially for the next holiday season is super important. So Kat and Sarah, if there was one thing that you'd say, you know, what have you learned from past holiday seasons to take forward with you, what has it been?

Kat Gordon 47:42

A tough question. I mean, obviously, you know, here at Malomo and what I help customers with and then kind of my my experience, so much of the headaches that I dealt with, or I you know, help our customers with are around fulfillment and shipping. So and that is, I mean, it's even if you feel like you have put a perfect process in place, it's going to get stressed during this time. And then there's obviously the entire world can change, either because of weather or global political events or a pandemic, once you know, that you can't really foresee. So, you know, you might have great intentions for marketing campaigns or new product releases or sales during that time. But you could also very likely face issues with your fulfillment company, or suddenly your carriers are not picking up your packages. And everything's two weeks behind and your customers are are upset and concerned. So definitely my advice is to leave resources around those areas of your business, because it's such a crucial time of year and many companies, you know, you use a third party logistics company or fulfillment company or you're outsourcing and we're all obviously very reliant on on these carriers and everything's kind of out of our control. So if you're able to leave kind of internal mental resources, you know, staff that can help troubleshoot those issues, help be able to update customers and kind of keep things running and just kind of have a plan in place for that.

Mariah Parsons 49:46

Yeah, I think that's great. You always hope there are no issues with shipment, but just due to the large increase in fulfillment and you know, overwhelming of the system, it is sometimes inevitable. And Sarah, I'll toss the same question to you, you know, what has been one thing that you've taken with you learned from previous holiday seasons?

Sarah Leitz 50:10

Yeah, I wouldn't even say this is from just holiday seasons. And I swear I'm not a pessimist. But think about everything that can go wrong. You can't plan for everything, you could not predict a global pandemic. But I think sometimes you just look at all the things that you have in place for all the structures that you have in place. And you need to look at it from a critical eye. You planned it really well when you want it to go right. But think at every different step, what could go wrong? And not just maybe from your own internal perspective, but think about it from the customer? Like, what are they going to deal with? What are the issues that they're going to see? What are the things that they want to see. And sometimes it's just getting an outside perspective, you know, the team, that you build on what you're working on, they've done this all year long, they've been working on it for months, you know, whatever it may be, and sometimes you just can't see the flaws. So sometimes it's about getting somebody who maybe is not even in your industry, maybe maybe a friend, maybe a spouse, and be like, Hey, this is what we're thinking about doing. Can you just walk through it with me and see if you can see anything that maybe I'm not seeing? But yeah, I think if you just try to take a really critical eye, you can find glaring gaps that you would have no idea where there until you took a step back and said all right. Now how can how can my plan completely fall apart?

Mariah Parsons 51:32

Yeah, I love that, you know, getting some perspective and putting yourself in the customers shoes. I think that's always a great idea. And with that, I'll thank you both, you know, for spending some time to share insight today. I know I've learned a bunch and Kat, it's been so fun. Sarah and I have loved creating this podcast. So thanks again for your time, Kat and yes, Sarah as always.

Kat Gordon 51:53

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Sarah Leitz 51:55

Thanks, Kat.

Mariah Parsons 52:00

And now it's time for our fact check. In this episode, we had fewer hard facts to actually check compared to our first episode. So with that, we'll get started. Kat mentions Klaviyo and in case anyone out there is unfamiliar with that name. Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform that allows brands to turn their data into personalized marketing campaigns. Malomo partners with Klaviyo They're awesome, so much great stuff that they're able to do. Kat also mentions her ecommerce brand crafted taste that she founded and ran for five years before joining the Malomo family. And it still is successful to this day. One hard fact that Kat does mention is that for the brands that we work with 68% of visits to their Malomo tracking page is on their mobile devices. So that is definitely something to key into when designing your web page. And every other communication and touch point with your customers can also speaks to how our shipment data saw that the most delays with shipment fulfillment and performance were with USPS due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Kat also stated both these facts correctly, so there was no need to check them or correct them. But just wanted to emphasize how amazing these facts are. And that Kat knew them from memory. Sarah suggests for brands that are trying to look into their search analytics for their websites to use Google Search Console and she speaks to her own experience with said platform. She also brings up the examples of Sephora makeup and Delta Airlines when discussing effective reward programs. So I just wanted to touch upon that a little bit in case you are curious and didn't want to put in the work to look into what those reward programs actually do. So Sephora rewards customers with points for every purchase to go towards their next purchase and they have a couple of different rankings were depending on the points you had you fall into certain categories and that can get you additional perks and then any loyal and subscribed so for a member will get an annual free birthday gift Delta has a credit card that allows their loyal customers to earn flight miles for any purchases that they make on that credit card. That is how they build their loyalty program. The last fact mentioned is the annual sale that For Love And Lemons hosts and that is a massive opportunity for customers to act on discounts and have some really great shopping before the holiday season. That's it but we hope that you subscribe and continue to come back we would love to hear your thoughts so please comment and let us know what you think and any additional insights you might have.