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How E-Commerce Brands Can (Finally) Tie Objectives to Tactics and Prove ROI

Alex Timlin
Alex Timlin , VP, Retail & E-Commerce Vertical

Tying Results to Objectives

E-commerce teams have it tough, that’s no secret. The hardest part, maybe the most overlooked challenge, is actually proving how what you’re doing is impacting those hefty business objectives.

High-level objectives — which almost always come in the form of “increase [Y] by [X] amount” — sometimes seem to be a moving target with a bunch of pieces, parts, and variables.

Whether your goal is to drive revenue, ROI, or retention, assembling the pieces to make it happen — reaching customers that will visit your online store (web traffic), spend more (AOV), buy more often (purchase frequency), become more inclined to engage (conversion rate), or join your fan club (subscribe) — is hard.

Business objectives represent the North Star, and you’re then expected to outline and launch key marketing strategies coupled with tactics that will bring that initial goal into reach… and, on top of that, somehow show that work ties back to the core objective. It quickly turns into a maze of craze.

With mounting pressure, expectations, and overflowing to-do lists, e-commerce marketing is in need of a re-tuning — a renovation of old habits. Let’s call it a re-commitment to an “Objectives first, Strategy second, and Tactics third” mindset that can ultimately give you what you need most: more time for creativity, hard evidence of success, and a better experience for you and each of your customers.

“#EcommerceMarketing is in need of a re-commitment to an ‘Objectives-Strategy-Tactics’ mindset”       CLICK TO TWEET

Let’s dive into a simple use case of what this process looks like.

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Use Case: Driving Revenue by Increasing AOV with Abandonment Campaigns

This “Objectives-Strategy-Tactics” approach is less about changing what you’re doing now and more about reverse-engineering and optimizing the methodology (and adding in a little more certainty) to ensure desired results are met.

Let’s say, in one scenario, the objective you’re shooting for is to increase revenue. I think we can all relate to that! The next step is to connect that objective with the means (strategy) and methods (tactics) to make it happen.

Here’s how this process might look:

What leadership gives you:

  • A high-level objective

Drive X amount of revenue by Y date.”

What you need:

In short, a plan. If your objective is to drive more revenue, the steps that you’ll follow will involve careful consideration of key strategies and choosing the best derivative tactics that will help get you there.

  • A well-defined strategy to guide the way

► “Increase our customers’ average order value (AOV) by Z amount.”

This entire plan is meaningless without content and creative that’s attention-getting, awesome, on-brand, and all the things that truly make your company unique. This is where the process should be both easy and fun. Strategy is the point where your genius really begins to shine.

In this example, you might choose the AOV strategy to bridge between the objective and tactic because it’s one measurable, attainable means to achieve your objective — in fact, one that’s worked before (we’ll get to this at the end!) for your specific industry.

  • Easy-to-implement tactics tailored to your business and your customers

► “Abandoned cart and browse abandon campaigns”

Execution of your tactics perhaps matters most for you because it’s where you’ll spend most of your time, energy, and resources. There are many tactics that could be employed — these are your typical automations like birthday messages, win-back, lead-to-first-time-buyer, abandonment messages, and more.

Editor’s note: you’ll likely be working with more than one strategy and tactic for your given objective. We’re using one here for simplicity’s sake and to showcase how the process works.

Let’s jump into what the “tactics” step looks like in greater detail.

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Choosing your modus operandi: abandonment campaigns

Once you’ve settled on the strategy that makes the most sense for your business — AOV in this case — the final step is to choose tactics that can actually help you accomplish that strategy and positively impact your objective. You know that running well-timed, creative browse and cart abandonment campaigns is one way to make that happen. So, how do these work?

Editor’s note: the tactics you choose will work as they always have; the main difference, now, is that you can better connect the dots to show direct proof of how strategy and tactics impact your objective.

Browse abandon

Browse abandon messages are shown to visitors that view an item online but do not add it to their cart or buy. In addition to boosting AOV, they increase website traffic and conversion.

Delivered via email, browse abandon notifications also improve click-through rates (from email), enhance the experience by letting customers discover new products they never knew they wanted, and reduce clicks to purchase — from email straight to the product page and then to checkout.

These emails can present the browsed items as classic “recommended for you” products, based on browser history.

Temple & Webster sends browse abandon emails based on what a contact has viewed.

If you don’t have an anonymous visitors’ email address, you can present exit intent overlays. These are a minimally intrusive option if you want to trigger the notification only if a visitor has browsed items.

Compared to the industry average of 2% of visitors that convert with browse abandon messages, Emarsys’ top 25% of clients are driving nearly 7x that figure.

Abandoned cart recovery

Abandoned cart recovery notifications let you quickly react to shoppers leaving your online store, without actually buying the products in their cart, by sending them a fast reminder email. With these, you can identify abandoned carts by checking the data collected from your web shop via a JavaScript API.

Abandoned cart recovery campaigns will include emails with:

  • The items left in the cart.
  • A recommendations block with alternative and complementary product offerings.

Again, Temple & Webster gets it right with their abandonment (cart recovery, in this case) emails.

Most cart recovery emails should be sent 60-90 minutes after the cart was abandoned, but timing is one element that, as alluded to above, should be adjusted based on your knowledge of your database.

You can also use other recommendations within abandoned cart campaigns so that your email would include not only the products left in the cart, but also other relevant product recommendations to help up- and cross-sell.

Of course, as part of an omnichannel strategy, you can send these notifications across various channels — such as exit intent overlays:

Abandoned cart campaigns can be fully automated so there’s no need to think about it once it is active. They can also offer dynamic incentives based on the value of the cart and the individual’s buying behavior, making for a can’t-pass-up second chance.

Once you begin to see results, it will be easy to not only say, but tangibly show how those results can be traced back to the tactics and strategy used to bring them about.

Final Thoughts

Within this model, you can align high-level business goals, like driving revenue, with strategies and tangible tactics that will work to make it happen.

Marketing is hard enough as it is, and a lot of variables are making it even more challenging — rising internal and external expectations to perform, escalating demand to drive more value, more quickly, with less resources, and a growing reluctance among consumers to share their data.

What’s needed is not more supposed growth hacks or another shortcut, but a realignment and re-commitment to an old “Marketing 101” mindset that puts the objectives first, the strategy second, and tactics third. The idea, then, is to seek the right tech/tool(s) that can support that kind of sustainable, scalable, strategic mindset that’s geared toward long-term success. The marketing teams that will win going forward are the ones that leverage a B2C marketing platform that knows their industry, inside and out, created to align with any overarching business objective. The choice, now, is yours to make. ◾

We understand how hard marketing is today — and the overwhelming demands of being a marketer. That’s why we created a strategic dashboard to help you prove the connection between the work you’re doing and what you’ve been asked to accomplish. Once your business objective is determined, it’s a matter of a push of a button to essentially tell the technology what you want to accomplish. This initiates an automated, detailed, pre-populated plan of attack with strategies and tactics (based on billions of consumer data points and vertical-specific blueprints that have worked before) to help you achieve that goal made at the outset.

Learn more about the only marketing platform that knows your industry and your business.

Handpicked Related Resources:

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About the Author


Alex Timlin is VP of Retail and E-commerce Vertical at Emarsys where he helps drive adoption and growth across 2,000+ clients in more than 100 countries. Alex is a longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association’s Customer Engagement Council, Marketing Intelligence Hub, and is a regular industry speaker on marketing, customer success, and SaaS technology.

Connect with Alex: LinkedIn @ARTimlin

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