Nike and Converse top the list for best personalized digital marketing among footwear brands, although all brands have room for improvement, according to a new Customer Portfolios report.

Nike wins at email marketing volume, Converse excels at personalizing the web experience for the shopper and Reebok draws in shoppers with a loyalty program that’s easy to sign up for, according to a new study by marketing technology vendor Customer Portfolios.

Although most footwear brands are providing a consistent message from the store to the web to their marketing messages, there is still room for improvement in delivering those messages, the study found. The vendor conducted a 6-week Customer-Centricity Audit focused on footwear to understand how well a brand is capturing and using customer data to deliver personalized marketing.

The audit created two different shopper personas that filled in some generic shopper behaviors: a female millennial shopper who engages with email by clicking through it and completes her purchase in a single category versus an older male shopper who opens email without clicking anything, shops in multiple categories but never completes his purchase.

The two personas then evaluated and interacted with the footwear brands based on 13 unique touchpoints: Email signup, email volume, email campaigns, web personalization, purchase process, DAMiT (don’t ask me to log in twice) , digital ads, retargeting, abandoned cart, return to store, account signup, consistent messaging, loyalty and other touchpoints. The two personas ranked the audited brands—Nike, Converse, Timberland, New Balance, Ugg, Reebok, Adidas, Puma, Asics and Vans—in each category from zero to five.

Some brands scored higher than others in particular categories. For example, Nike received five points out of five in seven of the 10 categories, such as email campaigns, account sign-up and consistency in messaging. Vans, however, scored low in most categories—it received a zero in digital ads and scored one for email categories and web personalization.

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Source: Customer Portfolios, 2019

“We saw major opportunity for brands to use data to close the gap between the brand promise and the experience being delivered—with more customer-centric marketing across all channels,” says Nick Godfrey, co-founder and executive vice president of strategy at Customer Portfolios.

Although Nike scored high marks in many categories, the report found that the shoe retailer could do better with personalization, which plays a key part in email messaging and on the web. It greets the shopper by name, but lacks other personalization tactics. Converse (a brand owned by Nike Inc., No. 33 in the 2019 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000), however, excelled in web personalization by greeting shoppers and remembering their loyalty benefits. Customer Portfolios recommended that Converse go a step further by personalizing the homepage and remembering the shopper’s shoe size when browsing products.

“Personalization can help engage customers in multiple ways. We know this through our own experience and from employing personalized marketing on behalf of brands,” Godfrey says. “For brands, using data and analysis to be smart, respectful, customer-centric and personalized will always produce positive results.”

Many brands fell outside the optimal email volume range—10 emails from a brand per month, according to the report—in which they sent too many, too few or sent too many promotion, non-personalized emails. In this case, Nike excelled by staying within the optimal range and sending emails only with important product and sales information, according to the report. Ugg, however, scored low as both of the audit shoppers received the same 41 emails from the brand over a 2-month period.

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“Email is still just about every brand’s go-to marketing tool,” Godfrey says. “It is effective in generating sales, yet at the same time, it can be damaging.”

Customer Portfolios recommends sending fewer promotional emails and more personalized emails, such as recommended items based on shopping behavior or birthday emails. To do this, brands should consider what they want to receive in their inbox and what they engage with as consumers, Godfrey says. Brands should also change their email marketing structure; instead of thinking of email only as a marketing channel, think of every email as targeting a specific type of customer, such as a prospective customer, a one-time purchase customer, a repeat purchaser or a loyal customer, he says.

“The short of it is that email should be an integrated part of a focused, customer-centric marketing experience, targeting specific segments,” Godfrey says. “The personalization should continue when I click through to the website, so I could see the same products featured with similar messaging from the email. And, if I did not respond [to that marketing email], I would receive a follow-up reminder email, receive a relevant post card or be targeted with relevant digital offers.”

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