April 30, 2020

The Future Happened

I ordered pizza and some chicken picante online. I enter car information, and I'm told to arrive and pick up the order in twenty-five minutes.

When I arrive, a sandwich board directs me to a parking spot that is designated by a handful of orange cones. It is 98 degrees outside, but rolling the windows down as a young woman approaches my car wearing a mask and plastic gloves feels strangely refreshing. Being "outside" is good!

Young Woman Wearing Mask and Plastic Gloves:  Are you Kevin?

Kevin:  Yes.

Young Woman Wearing Mask and Plastic Gloves:  Your total is $34.99. I will run inside and get your food.

I sensed that the young woman was happy ... I could only see her eyes (they twinkled) and her voice was muffled by her mask, but you get the picture. Maybe it is a blessing to have a  mask-wearing job when thirty-million of your peers were sacked in the past six weeks.

Ninety seconds later, she handed me my food ... being ever-so-careful to not make any physical contact. Next, she hands me a clipboard with my credit card receipt attached. She offers a pen, but I use my own pen ... again, we sure don't want to make contact, now do we? I leave a tip.

Young Woman Wearing Mask and Plastic Gloves:  Thank you!

Kevin:  Thank you.

On the way home, I realized that the "Seamless, Frictionless Omnichannel Shopping Experience" that vendors, pundits, trade journalists, conference organizers, and thought leaders have been begging my clients to implement had finally arrived. I imagine every person advocating an omnichannel future would trade it back in for the old, unorganized, friction-filled world ... in a heartbeat ... if they could.

There will be a day when we will fully appreciate the in-store experience that our industry spent twenty years trying to decimate in favor of a digital future. Sometimes you just need a bit of perspective ... the kind of perspective the plague, a quarantine, and thirty-million unemployed fellow citizens bring to the table.

P.S.:  I also participated in my first telemedicine experience on Thursday. One can easily see that we're never going to back to old medicine. I remember our family doctor performing house calls in the early 1970s. Forty-five years later we participated in a different style of medicine. And today, that style of medicine has been utterly disrupted in favor of a digital house call.

April 29, 2020

A Top-Heavy File

Here's the outcome of a recent Email QuickScore project (click here for deets). We're looking at what a customer will do next month, based on historical attributes ... ranked into 2%-tiles.

         Next          Next
    Monthly        Month        Month
  Segment    Re-Click   ClicksPer           Avg.
1 77.1% 5.80 4.47
2 57.5% 2.94 1.69
3 45.4% 2.48 1.12
4 36.9% 2.26 0.84
5 30.0% 2.06 0.62
6 24.0% 2.03 0.49
7 19.8% 1.92 0.38
8 19.0% 2.01 0.38
9 17.6% 1.84 0.32
10 13.9% 1.85 0.26
11 11.0% 1.73 0.19
12 8.6% 1.78 0.15
13 9.3% 1.75 0.16
14 6.9% 1.74 0.12
15 7.5% 1.80 0.14
16 7.6% 1.72 0.13
17 6.9% 1.75 0.12
18 6.4% 1.70 0.11
19 5.6% 1.75 0.10
20 5.2% 1.79 0.09
21 4.7% 1.74 0.08
22 4.2% 1.76 0.07
23 3.8% 1.79 0.07
24 3.0% 1.77 0.05
25 2.6% 1.85 0.05
26 2.1% 1.81 0.04
27 1.5% 1.67 0.03
28 2.2% 1.82 0.04
29 1.9% 1.84 0.04
30 1.6% 1.81 0.03
31 1.6% 1.81 0.03
32 1.7% 1.76 0.03
33 1.6% 1.75 0.03
34 1.2% 1.67 0.02
35 1.0% 1.90 0.02
36 1.1% 1.64 0.02
37 1.0% 1.90 0.02
38 1.1% 2.00 0.02
39 1.0% 2.10 0.02
40 0.7% 2.00 0.01
41 0.7% 1.71 0.01
42 0.7% 1.71 0.01
43 0.6% 1.83 0.01
44 0.6% 1.83 0.01
45 0.6% 1.83 0.01
46 0.5% 2.20 0.01
47 0.4% 2.00 0.01
48 0.4% 1.75 0.01
49 0.4% 2.00 0.01
50 0.4% 2.00 0.01

The top 20% of the file (segments 1-10) represent where all of the magic happens. 80% of all activity comes from the top 20% of the file ... with a whopping 49% of all activity coming from just 4% of the file.

Can I state the fact again, so that the information sinks in??
  • For this company, 49% of all email clicks in the next month come from the top 4% of subscribers.
A simple segmentation strategy might include:
  • Segments 1-2 (49% of clicks, 4% of file).
  • Segments 3-10 (34% of clicks, 16% of file).
  • Segments 11-25 (13% of clicks, 30% of file).
  • Segments 26-50 (4% of clicks, 50% of file).
Feed the segments to your ESP, and then measure your opens/clicks/conversions by high-level segment.

So many companies report overall averages ... in email marketing, that's very misleading. If email "works", it works at the very top of the file. Almost nothing you do matters for the bottom half of the email subscriber base. That's the place where you execute your tests ... you can try ANYTHING there in an effort to wake up the customer.

If you don't believe me and you don't want your own Email QuickScore, then run your own analysis using your own ranking system. After ranking customers, see how they responded in the next month.

April 28, 2020

Those Heavy Email Clickers Really Clicked A Lot!

Here's the data from a QuickScores project (click here), showing historical clicks by 2%-tile segment (best = 1, worst = 50).

The best email clickers have a ton of activity across the spectrum ... old clicks, recent clicks, you name it, they do it.

Over the past five years:
  • Segment 01 = 183.9 historical clicks, 7.1 clicks last month.
  • Segment 03 =   78.6 historical clicks, 2.9 clicks last month.
  • Segment 05 =   53.8 historical clicks, 2.0 clicks last month.
  • Segment 07 =   41.1 historical clicks, 1.5 clicks last month.
  • Segment 09 =   31.6 historical clicks, 1.2 clicks last month.
And among other customers:
  • Segment 19 =   12.4 historical clicks, only 2.5 clicks in past year.
  • Segment 29 =     7.2 historical clicks, no clicks in past year.
  • Segment 39 =     6.1 historical clicks.
  • Segment 49 =     2.2 historical clicks.

This is why you run Email QuickScores ... you want to know who is most likely to click, and you want to assess their Brand QuickScore to understand whether somebody is likely to purchase if they click. You don't want a ton of clickers who don't purchase anything.

April 27, 2020

The Best Are Truly The Best

Here's what you see in a QuickScores project (click here) regarding email click probability in the next month, based on historical email behavior.

The best email subs have a 77% chance of clicking again next month.

Look at how quickly the rates drop from there.

You get to segment fifteen ... that's 30% of the way down the email sub file. These are better-than-average email subs, and they have just a 10% chance of clicking via an email campaign again next month.

Future clicks are heavily biased toward only the very best email subs. The best subs are truly the best of the best.

Tomorrow I'll show you where historical clicks were distributed.

April 26, 2020

Gliebers Dresses: The Quarantine Episode

Believe it or not, this 2013 mini-play of Gliebers Dresses appearing on Shark Tank continues to get daily page views. Years ago, an assistant producer of the show emailed me to tell me he enjoyed reading the mini-play.

So while we're trying to stay sane, have yourself a giggle ... click here.

And if you'd like, here's a quarantine episode of Gliebers Dresses.

Setting: A Gliebers Dresses Executive Video Conference Meeting from Last Week

Glenn Glieber (Owner, CEO):  Ok, who's all on here?

Pepper Morgan Pressley (Chief Marketing Officer):  I'm here.

Roger Morgan (Chief Operations Officer):  I can only do this for about a half-hour. I'm hopping on CNBC at the top of the hour to talk about the future of retail.

Glenn Glieber:  Wait, what?

Roger Morgan:  I do interviews all day long. People crave thought leadership and content in these challenging times.

We here a sound ... BEEEE DOOOO BOOOOOP. Meredith Thompson, the Chief Merchandising Officer appears.

Glenn Glieber:  Meredith, is that you?

Meredith Thompson (head turned 90 degrees to the left):  Ed, for God's sake, there's a ton of meatloaf in the refrigerator.

Ed:  I'm in the refrigerator. I don't see it.

Meredith Thompson:  It's on the third shelf, in Tupperware.

Roger Morgan:  Here we go.

Ed:  The blue Tupperware or the green Tupperware?

Meredith Thompson:  Red Tupperware.

Ed:  There's no red Tupperware in here.

Meredith Thompson:  Move the purple Tupperware.

Ed:  Don't you mean Lavender?

Roger Morgan:  Meredith, can you mute the sound on your end?

Meredith Thompson:  Just hold on a minute everybody. 

Meredith gets up and walks off the screen. We can hear her arguing in the background.

Meredith Thompson:  I'm trying to do my job and you can't even figure out how to feed yourself.

Ed:  Oh shove it.

Meredith Thompson:  You shove it.

Ed:  They can hear you. Even that guy with the reports that you hate. He can hear you.

Meredith Thompson:  The meatloaf is right there, right in front of your face. Go get a paper plate and plastic fork and eat.

Ed:  Won't a plastic fork break?


Ed:  Just saying ...

Meredith reappears on the screen, cheeks a rosy color of read, breathing like she just ran a 5K race.

Meredith Thompson:  Where were we?

We hear a sound ... BEEEE DOOOO BOOOOOP ... Lois Gladstone, the Chief Financial Officer has joined the call.

Lois Gladstone:  Well, I've got good news. The State of New Hampshire declared that we're an essential business because we sell face masks. If we want, we can all gather in the office beginning next week.

Roger Morgan:  What in the name of all that is good in the world is on your shoulder, Lois?

Lois Gladstone:  That's my parrot, Gunther.

Roger Morgan:  Here we go.

Glenn Glieber:  Hi Gunther!

Gunther (the Parrot, yelling):  GOIN' BANKRUPT!

Glenn Glieber:  Wait, what?

Lois Gladstone:  Ignore that.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Can we please get the meeting started? Who has the agenda?

Lois Gladstone:  We've got to end these stupid video conference meetings. Everything is so disorganized. We've got to reopen the economy.  More people in New Hampshire have died from Meredith's cooking than have died from the pandemic.

Meredith Thompson:  Ed, why are you opening the dishwasher? Everything in there is dirty.

Ed:  I broke my fork and am looking for a real one.

Meredith Thompson:  Look in the drawer.

Ed:  The what?

Meredith Thompson:  The drawer.

Gunther (the Parrot):  DRAWER.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Lois, you can't possibly expect us to reopen the economy, You are putting people's lives at risk.

Lois Gladstone:  This whole thing is a complete overreaction. It's the flu!

Gunther (the Parrot):  DA FLU.

Lois Gladstone:  We're running -24%. We've got inventory piling up. It's not like we're all that profitable anyway, but this is gonna destroy us.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  If we don't survive the virus we don't have a business to come back to.

Lois Gladstone:  If we survive the virus and don't have a business to come back to, we're doomed.

Roger Morgan:  I'll be fine. 

Glenn Glieber:  Let's get back to the agenda.

Lois Gladstone:  Does anybody even know anybody who got sick? I mean, all of that inventory is just sitting there rotting and I don't even know anybody who is sick. Not one person.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Have you looked at New York City?

Meredith Thompson:  We're not going to have this argument right now. There are far more important things to argue about.

Ed:  Did you eat all of the vanilla ice cream?

Meredith Thompson:  Did I what?

Ed:  Ice cream!! I want a piece of pie.and I want some ice cream. It's not like I can go to the store and get some. Everything is sold out.

Meredith Thompson:  Can you just shut you pie hole for five minutes while I finish this pointless video conference?

Roger Morgan:  Yeah, I've got another five minutes before I hop on CNBC for the Fast Money Halftime Report.

Lois Gladstone:  Let's hop on Slack after the meeting and debate the merits of reopening the economy.

Meredith Thompson:  Back to the agenda, we were going to talk about the Video from the President, Glenn's address to our customers ... and the Nation. We think this is really important.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  I prepared a script for Glenn to read.

Lois Gladstone:  Make sure he's sitting in front of a flag of the United States and New Hampshire. It's important to convey that Glenn is a Patriot.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  He'll be in front of a green screen. We can put anything we want behind him.

Meredith Thompson:  Let's make sure we touch on all of the key points. We have to say "in these uncertain times". That's what all brands are saying in their advertising. 

Lois Gladstone:  And we want Glenn to give our customers financial relief by offering a special 70% off discount/promo on liquidation items.

Gunther (the Parrot):  PROMO.

Roger Morgan:  How about delayed payments for 30 days, or even 60 days?

Lois Gladstone:  We need all the cash we can get, Roger. No.

Roger Morgan:  Is that why we aren't paying vendors?

Lois Gladstone:  We need all the cash we can get. Besides, nobody cares if a merge/purge vendor doesn't get paid for a few months.

Meredith Thompson:  Glenn, can you say something about providing "peace of mind"? I mean, we offer value and selection at great prices. That should make customers feel more comfortable.

Roger Morgan:  Do our customers still have jobs?

Meredith Thompson:  Look, if we execute this Video from the President well, it will act a lot like free marketing.

Glenn Glieber:  I love free marketing!

Snoring can be heard in the background.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Did Ed ever get his ice cream?

Meredith Thompson:  He's sleeping, leave him alone.

Roger Morgan:  Pepper, make sure Glenn says something about "we're all in this together", because I think that really strikes a chord with the consumer. Woodside Research thinks it is very important to promote fellowship in times like these. And can we get some piano music playing in the background? Slow, sad stuff at first, followed by an upbeat anthem at the end. Listen to Jim Brickman on Spotify for ideas.

Lois Gladstone: Families who can't afford food aren't in this together with us. Did you see the food line in Nashau yesterday? 1,600 families lined up for eight hours. We need to reopen the economy.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Should we mention in the video that Glenn is funding all salaries out of his pocket during the shut-down?

Meredith Thompson:  Absolutely. And let's say something about how we'll all get through this together. Maybe at a hashtag at the end, you know, #newhampshirestrong

Gunther (the Parrot):  HASHTAG!

We hear a sound ... BEEEE DOOOO BOOOOOP.  

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Where did Roger go?.

Lois Gladstone:  He's gotta be headed over to CNBC again. Somebody put up a screen with him on TV, ok?

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Give me a minute.

Meredith Thompson:  I guess an interview with CNBC was more important to Roger than discussing a Message from the President.

Lois Gladstone:  It's exhausting.

Meredith Thompson:  Maybe Glenn should give a daily address to the Nation? That could be helpful. We could all stand behind Glenn and field questions from viewers in real time.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  Alright, here we go.

Everybody sees Roger appear on their screen.

CNBC Host:  We're live with Roger Morgan, the Chief Operating Officer at Gliebers Dresses. Roger, how are you holding up?

Roger Morgan:  I'm holding up well, thanks for asking. In New Hampshire, we're all #newhampshirestrong.

Lois Gladstone:  Dear God.

CNBC Host:  Roger, how is Gliebers Dresses handling the crisis?

Roger Morgan:  In these unprecedented and trying times, brands play a vital role in the social fabric of our nation. I am happy to report that we are paying all of our employees through the duration of this crisis.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  We?

CNBC Host:  That's fantastic!

Roger Morgan:  We're all in this together. And as a way of showing our gratitude toward our customers, we are delighted to announce that we are offering 70% off until we reopen the economy in New Hampshire. It's just our little way of showing how much we care.

CNBC Host:  Roger, as always, it's been a pleasure.

Roger Morgan:  I'm just doing my part. It's the health care workers, the grocery store employees, and the UPS drivers who are the real heroes as they battle this war against an invisible opponent on the front-lines of society. I just wanted to let everybody know, we got this, we're gonna beat this thing. Do your part. Stay at home. Be safe.

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  That certainly eliminated the need for a Video from the President, didn't it?

Meredith Thompson:  I don't think he missed a buzzword.

Lois Gladstone:  And he didn't say a single word about Woodside Research.

Gunther (the Parrot):  RESEARCH!!

Pepper Morgan-Pressley:  I think we're done here.

Glenn Glieber:  Another great meeting.

Meredith Thompson:  I need to wake up Ed.




Gunther (the Parrot):  BEEEE DOOOO BOOOOOP.


April 23, 2020

Kara ... The Future of Retail

In the next month, you're going to read a TON about how retail is finished (department stores in particular). Pundits will tell you that a hundred thousand stores will close in the next five years. They'll paint a story of doom and gloom, for doom and gloom generate clicks, clicks generate ad dollars, and ad dollars fund more articles about doom and gloom ... articles that generate clicks, clicks that generate ad dollars. You get the picture. An endless and pointless loop.

No solutions. None.

Yesterday's discussion about Future Stars (click here) also revealed something interesting ... you liked Kara, the intrepid fictional employee cited in the article. You also liked Jamal (click here). But you liked Kara because she has solutions.

I realized that Kara is the face of who we will be when we are finally liberated from our homes. And that day is coming (click here).

Until that day comes, we're all going to work our way through the decision tree featured below.

Do you know who causes us to visit a store in the future? Kara!!

Kara is the person who provides a safe work environment. Been in Target recently? Kara is everywhere with a squirt bottle of disinfectant. Kara makes sure there are wipes for the shopping cart. Kara is stocking shelves at 2:30am.

Kara is also making $12/hour today, and that's going to change, because Kara is about to be appreciated for how invaluable she is.

In three months will you trust Conrad, the lone employee left at Macy's, or will you trust Kara, the personal shopper you call because you need a bluetooth speaker solution for your bike and she recommends this item (click here) ... not only does she recommend it to you via text, but she tells you to be at Best Buy at 11:15am ... just drive up and she'll run it through checkout for you and will put it in your trunk. Easy!

Yeah, Kara will do all that for you. And you'll pay Kara a modest $5 concierge fee that Best Buy will allow Kara to keep all to herself, because Best Buy is going to need to make a ton of gross margin dollars going forward. All of a sudden Kara is making $40 an hour. Think other people will want a job like Kara has? Think you'll have a competitive advantage that will allow you access to the best labor on the planet?? Everybody wins.

Would you trust Conrad to walk you over to the Cosmetics department at JCP? Do you trust him to spray fragrance in your face from three feet of distance? Or do you trust Kara, who just texted you from Ulta? She loves you, so you get an 11:45am personal appointment so you can have a nice lunch immediately after. Kara makes sure that the security guard at the door knows you are coming. You show your ID to the security guard, and you are welcomed into the store. Kara has everything ready for you to try, on your own, at your pace, at a safe distance from everybody else. Of course you're gonna pay Kara the $10 concierge fee, and Ulta will allow Kara to keep every penny, plus she'll keep 7% of whatever she sells you. At 2-3 appointments an hour, Kara is taking home $65,000 a year in concierge fees and commissions. And Ulta stays in business, pocketing gross margin dollars.

Sports are coming back (someday) ... and when they do, you might not want to sit in a restaurant next to people you aren't sure are healthy or not. But Kara has you covered ... her email marketing campaign performs the heavy lifting (click here) ... and her co-worker, also named Kara, will have your order ready to take home at 4:30pm PDT ... just a half hour before the draft begins. You'll gladly pay Kara the $5 concierge fee for taking care of this ahead of time. The Kara who manages the Email Marketing Program earns a bonus for any campaign generating at least $0.25 per email delivered. All of a sudden the best Email Marketing Kara's of the world are managing programs that deliver a safe and enjoyable experience.

You see what is happening here? 

Money that used to go to an omnichannel vendor is going to ... Kara!!!! Kara works so darn hard. She deserves to make $100,000 a year hustling so that your have a safe shopping environment.

Kara reinvents retail. Yes, JCP and Sears and Macy's all struggle and potentially fail ... because they didn't hire Kara, because they don't care about Kara, because they aren't willing to share any money with Kara, because they don't value the concierge business model that Kara employs.

But Ulta and Best Buy and BJ's Restaurant get through this (they're use symbolically here, as you already know). They employ Kara in every sense ... there's a merchandising Kara, there's a creative Kara, there's a finance Kara, there's an army of marketing Kara's, there's all of those in-store Kara's making $60,000 to $100,000 a year by hustling, by pocketing commissions and $5 concierge fees that allow the customer to feel safe.

Kara isn't the Uber driver or Instacart Shopper ... Kara is the person who was an Uber driver but got fed up with Uber keeping all the money at scale without providing a ladder up. Kara left that job because of the gigantic labor reshuffling of 2020-2021. She climbed the ladder offered by retail ... yes RETAIL ... that dead channel that the pundits buried in March/April 2020.

Kara gets full health care benefits - heck, she delivers enough gross margin dollars to more than cover this benefit. Kara gets 4 weeks of vacation ... paid ... and she's gonna need it given how hard she works.

Will Kara change retail?

Will we reinvent retail by giving the keys to Kara ... so that in 2025 there is a viable in-store channel that survives what is coming?

Only if we provide the leadership necessary to allow Kara to get paid. It's on us to do something completely different. It's on us.

In the image above, most of us only sell something that the customer "wants". We're desperately going to need Kara to bridge the gap between something a customer wants and the virus that stops the customer from getting what she wants.

I've been on a lot of Zooms over the past month. There's one thing that continually gives me hope. In all of these meetings, there's a thirty-something year old woman or man who, in the midst of chaos is filled with optimism, energy, hard work, and initiative. They're keeping the wheels on the bus, from home, while dealing with everything crazy that happens when you at home at 2:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon. 

It happens in every Zoom. These are the people that are going to save retail.

Kara is coming. She's you ... and she's gonna transform retail.

P.S.: I do believe that you are gonna see "concierge fees" ... you'll gladly pay Kara $5 or $10 or $15 to keep you safe. You'll get good "free" service too ... Total Wine will roll out a case of wine to your car at no cost ... but that's not what I'm talking about. You're gonna miss people (you already miss people), and somebody like Kara will make your experience entertaining, safe, and worthwhile.  Think about what you'll tip your hair dresser in two months when you're allowed a hair cut?? Your hair dresser is Kara, and the tip is essentially a concierge fee. Retail works better when somebody like Kara is taking care of you.

Focusing on Tiny Things

Sometimes on LinkedIn you'll see "all the good stuff" from the CEO. An image of twelve people sitting inside a restaurant, gla...