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Express exec says geo-bidding, cross-partnerships make significant impact on mcommerce

PALM DESERT, CA – An Express executive at eTail West 2015 discussed the significant impact on mcommerce the brand’s geo-bidding efforts had when used to ramp up awareness of new stores or holiday sales, and revealed the clothing retailer’s relevant cross-partnerships also snagged a wider audience of potential consumers.

During the “In-Store Panel Discussion: The Digitization Of In-Store To Maximize Revenues” session, the executive discussed the clothing retailer’s growing focus on mobile, due to its younger target demographic’s browsing and shopping habits. The brand also looked at geo-bidding to raise awareness of the new Express outlet factory stores, a tactic which saw success and prompted the company to roll out similar features for holiday sales.

“Express started selling online only about six years ago,” said Amber Yeray, digital marketing manager at Express, Columbus, OH. “Now, with the evolution of mobile, it’s been growing and changing the way we’re structuring our marketing programs.”

The brand’s increasing focus on mobile conversions prompted the move to a responsive site last year, which fulfilled the initial goal.

“Express plays in a space that is very mobile-centric, given the demographic,” said George Michie , co-founder and chief marketing scientist at Merkle | RKG, Charlottesville, VA. “It’s not surprising that they over-indexed on mobile search compared to others.”

Mr. Michie advised brands to realize that where their shipping centers are may have as much of an affect as where the bricks-and-mortar locations are. Express was able to discover that 55 percent of traffic was coming from stores, prompting the brand to turn to geo-bidding when launching the new outlet stores.

Express was able to send mobile-optimized ads to consumers living nearby outlet centers, equipped with map-to-store and click to call options for those wanting more information. Surprisingly, the brand found that both options received equal amounts of usage.

“We needed to build that brand awareness for consumers who are around outlet centers,” Ms. Yeray said. “We geo-fenced locations and gave them dynamic ads telling them how many miles they were from the location.”

This tactic worked so well that Express rolled it out ahead of Black Friday sales.

The Express executive also highlighted the brand’s partnership with music streaming service Pandora.

“We also tried to look at driving brand engagement,” Ms. Yeray said. “Our consumers love celebrity gossip and music, so we have been working with Pandora the last couple years and testing out different offers .

This led to the retailer launching a brand station titled Express Rocks, which garnered over 130,000 listeners within two months, offering a slew of new consumers for the brand to message at any time.

Express began leveraging a new messaging technology in October 2014 that used behavioral data analytics and a content recommendation engine to better personalize messages (see story). Due to the brand’s massive amount of millennial consumers, customization and mobile are two aspects that remain as a top marketing priority.

In January 2015, Express saw 71 percent of device traffic come from mobile.

“Now it’s about the personalization,” Ms. Yeray said. “We want to know what all our digital touch points are doing so we’re not over-messaging the same person.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York