Dear Catalog CEOs:
Back in 1995, we managed 20 catalog mailings a year, and we liked it.
Back in 2000, we were being introduced to websites and e-mail marketing.
In 2011, we're drowning in channels. Mobile (apps vs. websites, Apple vs. Android), Social (Facebook, Twitter, Foresquare, Blogs), Search, Affiliates, E-Mail Triggers, E-Mail Campaigns, on and on and on. We are told to maximize offline, we're told to A/B test our way to online bliss. Toss in geo-targeted email-based social commerce providers, and you've got a whole bunch on your plate!
And everybody has an answer how you use all of these channels to your benefit. If you just follow the prescription, all is good. Follow an online tactic and experience a 239% conversion rate increase, woo-hoo! Forge deep, emotional connections with somebody on Facebook, and you're told that you will "reap the rewards", as the publications like to tell us.
With all of these 239% increases, we should be seeing unfettered, 100% growth per year, year-after-year, right?
Right? Be honest.
This brings us to the graph at the top of this post. Go ahead, click on it. Across the 50+ brands I've worked with, this is an average, GLM-adjusted annual rebuy/repurchase rate for each of the past eleven years.
Annual repurchase rates are, in my opinion, the best indicator of customer loyalty. I mean, if you keep 62% of your customers, and then you keep 55%, and then you keep 48% of your customers, then you have a loyalty problem, right? So the metric quickly gets to the heart of the matter ... are you able to hold on to your customers.
Since we dove, head-first, into the multichannel pool of marketing bliss, our repurchase rates have, on average, decreased. Sure, you can blame 2008 and 2009 on the economy, but you can't blame 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 on the economy, now can you?
There's one thing we can say ... the explosion of channels is not correlated with increased customer loyalty. You could just as easily make the case that, after accounting for the collapse of the economy, that the explosion in channels resulted in a decrease in customer loyalty.
We were told we would be successful if we simply adhered to the best practices of every single new, burgeoning channel.
My goodness. How could it all have gone so wrong?
Make the rest of 2011 a year where you focus marketing efforts around merchandise. Instead of trying to make channels work, why not spend some time working on making your merchandise work!??!
Make merchandise the focus of 2011.