It is not often that one campaign wins four Nexus Golds and two Nexus Silvers. It is easy to understand then, why the Onecard mySpecials entry from Affinity ID on behalf of Progressive Enterprises is the Nexus Supreme Winner for 2009.
Onecard mySpecials is the first time that any New Zealand retailer has been able to apply data-driven marketing principles to promote its full range of weekly specials to individual customers. It represents the culmination of careful planning and strategy development by Progressive Enterprises to cost effectively deliver an ongoing direct communication programme focused providing individual Onecard cardholders with highly personalized interactions that support Progressive’s brand development and customer engagement strategy. It involves the promotion of a vastly wider range of weekly specials compared to traditional print catalogues, while focusing these to each customer by analyzing their individual purchasing history to prioritise relevant product for that customer, and delivering these to their inbox with rapid turnaround.
The programme optimizes the matching of what is on sale to the right individual customer, at the right time. This moves beyond the production of static print catalogues to highly personalised communications seamlessly integrated across both email and web. From the customer’s perspective this delivers communications that recommend products that are relevant to them, at a discounted price. From the business perspective, a new environment has been created that cost effectively delivers improved business efficiency, increased sales and improved customer engagement.
It has achieved this through highly innovative development, integration and automation of data mining, email and web marketing, to deliver against business objectives of increasing sales and store visitation from customers involved in the program, achieving high levels of customer engagement, and delivering an efficient production system that can publish highly personalised weekly content.
Central to the strategy is the promotion of a broad range of supermarket specials to customers in a way that is easily digestible to individuals. This can only be achieved cost-effectively through using digital media. The programme communicates over 25 times more products than traditional print catalogues can, but ensures each customer only gets a small easy-to-digest list of product offers that are uniquely relevant to them. Furthermore, the programme promotes both individual product savings (which is all traditional print catalogues can do) and identifies and promotes both the cost of a total shopping list (basket) and the total savings a customer is able to make through shopping at their local Countdown, Woolworths or Foodtown supermarket.
Onecard mySpecials delivers extreme personalisation of content for individual customers - to promote the weekly specials across a whole supermarket. Each customer is targeted with the top 10 best deals for them.
Achieving delivery each week of the top 10 deals that are relevant for each customer requires intensive processing of massively large data sets containing 26 weeks of transactional history. Data from five different sources (customer contact data, purchasing data, pricing data, product data – images and descriptors - and communication content history) is managed and integrated with a high degree of automation to support efficient production of outputs within a short production window. Maintaining pricing integrity and control integration with Progressive’s internal systems is also a requirement.
This represents a significant production challenge to uniquely identify the relevant products for each customer whilst achieving production within a short 12-24 hour window from receiving final pricing data. A total of over 3.8 million customer-to-store-to product recommendations are produced each week for over 180,000 customers. Communications are highly personalised with each email containing a unique mix of the top 10 product offers for each individual customer. A custom font system using actual product packaging was developed to creatively highlight personalisation.
Selection of products for “heroing” (relevancy) is achieved by scoring each product uniquely for each customer based on their shopping patterns at product and sub-category levels over a 26 week period. This is then adjusted by using a weighting algorithm that further prioritises products based on the volume of discount, and then filtering this against customers’ previously received content. The result is a prioritised set of products (recommendations) that are unique to each customer, and allow cross-selling suggestions to be presented to that customer based on sub-categories that are evident in their shopping history. Full tracking of individual offers (products and prices) occurs and this provides the ability to directly model relationships between communication exposure and sales outcomes.
While promotion through email focuses on a small highly relevant set of products, multiple search methods have been made available on the web to enable customers to create, manage, print and save totally customised shopping lists drawing on the full range of products on promotion.
These shopping lists are central to the approach and strategy developed. Progressive Enterprises wanted customers to add products to this list and then print for use in-store. To provide a good user experience on the website, multi-search options have been included for customers to find products. Once found and selected, these products are automatically added to this shopping list from wherever the customer is on the website. Notes or information relevant to the product selected can be added by the customer from the product detail popup, and are also automatically added to the customers shopping list. Finally customers also have the ability to load whatever personal notes and reminders they require directly into the shopping list display. These lists can be saved for future use and are remembered by the site across time. The list (in both email and on web) automatically totals spend and save amounts for the customer.
Recognising that individuals search for information in different ways, four key search options are available. Firstly a simple browse feature is available. This augmented by the second search feature which utilises filtering via free-text data entry in the search box. The website automatically recognises keywords and uses these to filter across all product categories. More advanced searching is provided as a third option which features recognition of important product keywords as a customer types the product name. Once recognised a hyperlinked popup becomes available providing a short list of products available for selection. The final search feature “quicklist” provides the ability to easily find and display all products for a store from a single page. This interface is able to be customised uniquely by each customer (controlling category display, section minimisation and maximisation, colour coding and naming, move and reposition sections on the page). While all products are displayed on the quicklist, specials can be readily identified by the inclusion of underlined hyperlinks. Again clicking on this hyperlink generates a small popup for just those products.
With product relevancy as a key communication driver, smart templates that address some specific communication requirements were developed. These templates contain self-healing functionality in terms of selecting and displaying relevant products. This involves checking “on the fly” data completeness so that if a highly prioritised product cannot be displayed (for example lacks a product image) the template will select the next most highly ranked product and adjust product display settings automatically. This includes maintaining product display integrity across both email and web. Customers are also able to change the store for which they are viewing products for. When this happens all pricing information (store name, dates, sale price amount, save amount, list total and list savings) is automatically updated.
The system has been designed with a high degree of automation with embedded QA reports automatically produced to ensure data (and especially pricing) integrity throughout the process.
By September 2009 customer engagement was outstanding, with an open rate of 52.2%, a click through rate of 30.5%. In addition, conversion to sale was at 78.6% of customers who opened the email (compared to conversion to sale of approximately 45% for unpersonalised and untargeted emails) and incremental sales targets were achieved.