Summer Trends To Watch

Last week was a busy week, with graduation promotions wrapping up and Father’s Day promotions in full swing.   Add to that, thousands of retailers went  to Chicago for the arguably largest retail conference of the year, the Internet Retailer Conference & Exposition (IRCE).

So here are three summer trends email marketers should consider, along with two key themes from IRCE.

Summer trends:

1.  The mobile, transient consumer will be even more transient this summer.  All behavioral trends we’ve monitored indicate smartphones and tablets will dominate email and Web traffic.  This can mean fewer clicks and shifts in link behaviors and may call for increasing the frequency to keep up with the smartphone-carrying sandal-wearer.  Don’t overreact to blips in clicks, but focus instead on the clicks/links themselves.

2.  All links/clicks aren’t equal this summer.   Take a really close look at the value of a link (click), and spend a little extra time organizing these links so they inform more than a bar chart in your weekly email report.   Consider assigning value to clicks across several series of promotions, by link type and promotion type.  This information will be super-valuable come September, when you gear up for retail peak season.  Take the complexity out of multivariate testing by being persistent in how you assign value to behavior, especially mobile behaviors.

3.  The social playground is hotter than ever.  It’s a critical time to identify your email connectors.  Focus on just those who post and share, and the sources of their social activity.  Match email trend to social segmentation (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Twitter).  You can’t rely on social share in email to accomplish this; that will help you see only 1% of the behavior.   Connect what’s happening with your brand on these sites to the timing of email promotion windows, and find the correlations.   This may mean a little extra work with your social media team to coordinate and share knowledge, but putting it together by campaign trend will make promotionally scaling this in October much easier.   Remember, you want to solve for the 1-5% that are socially active vs. trying to solve for your entire customer base.

With a few summer thoughts under your belt, let me stretch your thinking a bit with a few key trends from the IRCE. Certainly not comprehensive by any means, but you definitely should continue to press in these areas:

1.  Rich media/video still sells.   73% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video. Video has always been a great engagement tool, yet today and the emergence of 4G phones, incorporating video into your social and brand messaging strategy may be the edge you need to convert the comparison shopper.   As the entry barrier lowers, the creativity around the use of video will need to accelerate.

2.   Retailers found reverse showrooms again.   It’s a term that’s been around for a long time, but with the emergence of mobile, retailers are a-buzz about connecting the Internet shopper and in-store buyer.   A March research report by Business Insider showed that 69% of consumers are reverse showrooming, and it was a super-hot topic at IRCE.  Other key trends related to reverse showrooming:   Amazon still dominates the online purchase, social media has emerged as the dominant referral source, and there’s a shift in fulfillment tactics (in-store pickup, in-store WiFi, point-of-sale mobile transactions).   

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