The web-only athletic shoe brand NOBULL implemented personalization and marketing technology from Bluecore to better connect with its repeat shoppers. This boosted its conversion rate and increased its repeat-buyer rate further.

Athletic shoe brand NOBULL has built a following of loyal shoppers. Since launching in January 2015, the web-only, direct-to-consumer brand has catered to the CrossFit and training community and has since expanded its product line to draw in golfers, indoor cyclists and runners. In tandem, its kept up with the demand of its repeat buyers—and found ways to speak directly to them when their favorite products were out of stock.

“We’ve been growing rapidly as quickly as we can since we started,” says Todd Meleney, chief marketing officer at NOBULL. The shoe brand has raised $32 million in funding to date, according to Crunchbase data.

“When you’re an inventory-based business, the growth limitations are due to inventory constraints,” Meleney adds. “During COVID-19 with retail stores closed, we had even more wind in our sails that allowed us to continue the accelerated growth that hasn’t slowed down since.” Meleney declined to reveal sales specifics.

The brand launches new styles and shoe types that sell out fast, Meleney says. But it also has shoppers who have specific interests, so it needed to find ways to cater to every one of its shoppers so they wouldn’t miss out on a coveted product.

“As we scaled, we saw we have various segments of our audience that all connect with our brand message and have different interests,” he says. “When you’re communicating directly with the customer, the relationship you have is intimate, so the days of universal messaging is long gone.”

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NOBULL in early 2020 found retail marketing technology company Bluecore to help it better connect with its shoppers because it didn’t have enough human resources to keep up with the demand. Bluecore—in conjunction with NOBULL’s ecommerce platform Shopify Plus—uses NOBULL’s customer data it has collected since its inception to better personalize the retailer’s shopping experience. NOBULL can match every customer with in-stock products, taking into consideration the nitty-gritty attributes, such as style, material, type of product, size and overall preferences.

It took a couple of months for NOBULL to implement Bluecore, including a successful trial run on product recommendations, Meleney says. And then it launched Bluecore’s technology sitewide in mid-2020. Meleney declined to share costs of implementation or of continued costs using the technology.

If a shopper is new to NOBULL, she will see one homepage, while a repeat shopper will see a personalized homepage with product recommendations based on what she’s browsed and bought in the past. The shoe brand conducted a lot of A/B testing to determine what to deploy on the site, taking into account the homepage, navigation and product detail pages. “Lots of variables in the Rubix cube,” Meleney says.

NOBULL finds success in personalization

As a result of its personalization efforts, NOBULL had a 30% increase in its predicted customer lifetime value and a repeat-buyer rate of 46% in the first six months of using the personalization technology compared with before it used Bluecore’s technology.

The vendor provided product recommendation technology, as well as expanded email personalization with triggered emails. This included cart-abandonment emails with better audience selection, behavioral triggers such as browse abandonment, and it launched a whole new category of merchandising triggers, like back-in-stock notifications for all of its products.

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“When we tried to do triggers like browse-abandonment previously, we ended up turning them off because people got angry when they saw things that were no longer available,” says Joy Huang, director of loyalty and retention marketing at NOBULL. “And we did have a back-in-stock flow, but we couldn’t automate it, so that was a manual batch send each time.”

NOBULL can now automate all of those triggers with Bluecore, Meleney says. Now, when something is out of stock on NOBULL’s site, this triggers an onsite message for shoppers to request a notification when the product is back in stock, and then that message comes through to their email once the item comes back in stock. For back-in-stock emails, NOBULL had a 15.5% increase in conversion rate for those products compared with when it didn’t send back-in-stock emails.

“If you’re not paying attention to the interests and behaviors of the consumer, it will create a longer path of conversion to get them there,” Meleney says. “Without a personalized path to conversion, they are going to have to find their way through our products on their own. But the ability to bring them in based on what they want from us makes it a more seamless experience.”

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