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1800Flowers exec: On mobile, Amazon’s syndicated search resolves retailers’ gripes

NEW YORK – A 1800Flowers executive at the 2014 MMA Forum pinpointed Amazon’s syndicated search as a big opportunity for retailers to reach shoppers, despite marketers’ notorious disdain for the online giant.

The “Marketing Like it’s 1999! Your Targeting Techniques Need an Update” session gave an overlook at how 1800Flowers hones its marketing strategy through mobile, social and Web tactics. Though Amazon is traditionally viewed as a threat to all types of retailers, the executive sees the online retailer as an additional distribution tactic on mobile.

“The traditional way of looking at Amazon is from a competitive lens, but when you get into mobile Web, I think Amazon starts offering some very interesting inroads to get in front of their customers,” said Amit Shah, vice president of mobile and social at 1800Flowers, Carle Place, NY.

“You may not be a listed marketplace seller, but through syndicated search, you can actually get in front of those consumers,” he said. “By the way, the three ads at the bottom of the screen is more ads than Google shows when someone searches for ‘flowers.’”

“Your distribution and ability to get in front of customers — even in walled gardens, if you will — is increasing.”

Going beyond geofences
Mr. Shah also discussed some interesting findings about the brand’s work with location-based advertising.

1800Flowers ran a study with Thinknear that looked at the response rates when the online retailer blasted out display ads.

Interestingly, the study discovered that from midnight to 4 a.m., click-through rates were significant, despite that the stores were closed.

As a result, 1800Flowers tweaked the second version of this campaign with content that was tailored towards these consumers. The ad unit included a link to 1800Flowers’ mobile site and a button that connected to 1800Flowers’ call center.

These new ads flipped 1800Flowers’ belief that location-based and targeted mobile ads were only effective at specific times of the day.

Mr. Shah also indicated that mixing up the content of the ad to better suit late-night consumers was a competitive advantage since other brands were likely not tailoring their efforts towards night.

Creative in location-based mobile ads can also be tweaked toward specific times of the year in both company-owned and local franchise stores.

For example, 1800Flowers can change creative during prom season in local franchise locations.

“The traditional way of thinking about geofencing is someone is near a certain location and you’ve conquested that location or you’ve put some vertical fences around it, and you’re seeking engagement,” Mr. Shah said.

“But I think that’s a very baseline campaign because it does not take into account the situation the user might be in, and that’s why we call it situational targeting,” he said.

Social targeting?
The online retailer also relies on targeting during key times of the year, such as birthdays.

While targeting around a birthday is fairly easy, the trick is getting to a consumer’s online friends who can send birthday flowers.

Once a consumer has looked at birthday items online, 1800Flowers’ retargeting efforts kick in for a roughly one-week period.

One way to tap into this lucrative market is through data collected via a mobile app. Additionally, the app data can be segmented so that the brand can target specific types of consumers.

“Now I think sort of in the future when we think about the HTML5 world that we are going to go towards, this is going to become more precedent,” Mr. Shah said.

“This is not traditional segmentation,” he said. “Traditional segmentation is retroactive — you’re looking back. I want real-time segmentation. I want real-time behavioral understanding so that I can reach that user back in the right voice.”

Making sense of mobile data?
Mr. Shah also discussed a few recent campaigns that 1800Flowers worked on with PayPal.

PayPal came up with a look-a-like model campaign that basically singled out a group of three million PayPal users with past shopping behavior indicating that they may be interested in buying something from 1800Flowers, but had not done so yet.

The campaign resulted in a 240 percent ROI (see story).

According to Mr. Shah, this campaign solves two major issues in mobile Web — email and promo codes.

The flower retailer sees 75 percent of its emails being opened on mobile devices, meaning that calls-to-action have to be tailored specifically for mobile users.

Additionally, the campaign automatically applied a $15 credit to a consumer’s PayPal account, which eliminates the tedious process of entering a promo code.

PayPal then ran a second version of the campaign that sent an offer to customers. A certain percentage of consumers click-through to redeem the offer, but did not use it immediately.

If consumers were not responsive to email, calls-to-action appeared in the consumer’s Facebook news feed. This portion of the campaign resulted in a 108 percent ROI.

“I think the future of targeting in my mind, with so much data and so many devices, is how do you set up these feedback loops,” Mr. Shah said.

“Ultimately, this data leads to targeting, but the targeting is not the end point in and of itself. It will also generate data that you can mine, and this is where I think the real DR ROI starts adding up.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York