Thursday, 14 October 2010

Prospecting by retargeting

“CRM is dead and PRE is the future”, declared Screwfix’s head of ecommerce John Ashton in a session called Personalisation, Prospecting, and Profiting in 2010 at this year’s ECMOD conference. “PRE”, he explained, stands for Personalised Recommendation Engine and it is currently responsible for 15 percent of total business at Screwfix.

Whereas customer relationship management (CRM) is defined as managing the interactions your customer has with your brand to drive acquisition and retention strategies, according to Ashton, the personalised recommendation engine is all about using your customer’s actual behaviour with your company to instantly add value to your business.

In a nutshell, a PRE is a program that uses the data your business has on an individual to show that person products that he may be interested in based on his behaviour on your website. This means using the pages and products he viewed, what’s been added to the cart, past purchases, or what other customers like him have bought to form an idea of the products that may also be of interest to him. At Screwfix, for instance, CRM meant targeted offers, say, for all plumbers on the database. Using a PRE Screwfix is now able to display offers at an individual level, based on what is in the shopper’s basket, or what he’s looked at before.

Moreover, in 12 weeks’ time, said Ashton, Screwfix will have achieved a single customer view across all of its channels—trade counters, catalogue and website. This will enable the trade counters to see exactly what someone has bought in the past whether online or in-store, and instead of suggesting generic offers like “would you like a measuring tape with your order”, staff can suggest more relevant products, for example, copper piping as an additional purchase to someone who has a boiler in his shopping basket. This tactic will also be applied to Screwfix’s email marketing to personalise email offers and make its 1.2 million weekly emails more “interesting”, added Ashton.

Wrapping up his presentation, Ashton told delegates how Screwfix is using retargeting. He explained that of’s 700,000 weekly web visitors, 650,000 leave without buying anything. However, in the past six months, the company has been “retargeting” those that have left empty-handed. Ashton described how Screwfix is using a tool called Criteo, which tracks users’ online behaviour using cookies to display ads to them once they have left the site. The results are impressive says Ashton, who added that before using these targeted ads, which can display to users the last few products they viewed on the screwfix website, he had struggled to see any sort of return using online display advertising. From Ashton’s presentation it appears that it’s no longer about reaching out to prospective customers, who may never have heard of you; it’s about maximising the traffic you are already getting by personalising the experience.--MT

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