IRCE 2017 roundup: Four quick takeaways

IRCE 2017

The content team here at Klaviyo spent last week at the IRCE conference in Chicago. I’ve never been to a conference of this size and was excited to listen and talk to some of the biggest retailers in the world. I was looking to walk away with a wealth of knowledge and boy did I. But I couldn’t possibly get everything I came away with into one post, so instead, I’ll pick four themes that stood out during my time in the windy city.

Ecommerce businesses are still waiting too long to get actionable insights from their data

Two presenters, Al Cardona of The Mountain and Peter Moloney of Loyalty Builders inadvertently touched on this point throughout their presentation. Loyalty Builders helps The Mountain analyze their data so they can segment and personalize their emails. Segmentation and personalization is always a great idea — what stuck out was the way they were doing it.

The Mountain exports their data from their ecommerce platform and sends it to Loyalty Builders. Two weeks later they receive the segmented data and import that data into their email platform to send to customers. It’s far too long to send data-driven emails using two-week old data.

Anything can happen in those two weeks. We recommend integrating your ecommerce and email platforms together so that that data can be accessed and used in real time.

Ecommerce content is on everybody’s mind. But, companies are in various stages of both understanding and development

You’re going to find this more than a little shocking, so I’ll give you a second to prepare yourself. You good? Cool, here it is: Content should be an important part of your marketing strategy. But the problem is what it’s always been (apart from the writing): “Where do I start?”

Fortunately, IRCE had your back this year, with sessions aimed at those just kind of starting out with content and those “doing” content but maybe not 100% sure if they’re doing it right.

Let’s start with what I’d consider a solid, fundamentals talk: Content Is Once Again King—But How Do You Get It? delivered by Emily Irish, a content marketer, and Mike Eldridge, an actual business owner. The session was a great example of “here’s what I did to get my content on the front page and here’s the theory behind it.”

Mike owns Take a look at their blog. If you feel like there’s nothing interesting you could possibly write about the products you sell, please note that Mike’s blog is about safety glasses. And it is rock solid. You can do it.

So what did he do? Fundamentals, baby. He looked for hard questions that no one else had done a very good job answering. In Mike’s case, no one in Mike’s world had done a very good job explaining what exactly it means to be ANSI Z87.1 certified. No problem. He explained it, updated the post as necessary, and now the post has 72 comments and ranks second on Google, behind what looks to be the original announcement. Not. Bad.

Emily came on after Mike and walked everyone through just how to launch a professional content program, answering questions like “Should I hire internally or externally?”, “Do I really need an expert?” and “How do I avoid getting scammed?” I’d do her presentation a disservice by trying to summarize it all here, but it’s clear she tailored it to an audience who cares a lot about ROI.

The other content-centric session we attended was Drafting a Content Marketing Strategy – And Measuring the Results. This one was not explicitly aimed at the beginner (which makes sense, I can’t see Home Depot doing a “content marketing 101” session). They also talked about content in a different way — much less concerned with blogs and writing versus cutting down on lengthy product descriptions in favor of in-house photography.

For example, most retailers are content with slapping up the photos that come from the manufacturer and calling it a day. Ok, that’s one way to go. But what if those photos don’t show what customers actually want to see? Gotta fix that. Home Depot does things like take photos showing chimneys on the grills they sell (people care about heat control) and putting actual burgers on the grill so you can see how many fit. Dimensions don’t really mean as much as seeing “oh, that’s like 50 burgers on there.”

You can check out the whole presentation here. Shout out to Quinn Tempest at Vertical Measures. Great job.

3rd party marketplaces are also on everybody’s mind. Business owners are looking for advice

Amazon was everywhere at IRCE. If they weren’t talking about how to sell on Amazon, they were talking about how to compete with them. One session that I enjoyed was a talk given by Jay Dunn from Chief Outsiders about how to compete with Amazon and your competitors. He started the session by focusing on Amazon and what they’re doing to the world (taking it over). To paint a picture of how big Amazon is getting, check out this chart Jay included in his presentation:

The second half of his presentation talked about how to compete with Amazon by focusing on post-purchase communication. Brands spend 95% of their resources on getting acquisition when the majority of those purchasers are just leaking out of the bottom of the funnel. There’s no brand loyalty anymore. Jay suggests spending half your time on post-purchase and seeing how many purchases you can get in 1 year from a single person. He calls this “annual contribution”.

Speakers sometimes went broad because the audience was comprised of professionals with varying levels of expertise 

To be fair, this is usually true at a lot of big conferences. It’s tough to know exactly who is in the room, what their business is, what their role is, and what exactly they’re trying to get out of the session. Some sessions focused on the importance of video (especially square or 1:1 video) on social media, others focused on the sometimes challenging relationship between marketing and IT.

In the case of the former, especially among Klaviyo customers, I imagine most folks are aware that video is a big, big deal. In the case of the latter, the relationship between marketing and IT is great because there is no IT department! Maybe there isn’t a marketing department either, the CEO is doing it all!

But that’s kind of the challenge filling a docket over the course of a few days. Sometimes you’ll run into an enterprise conversation, and other times you’ll know something that not everyone else does. Par for the course.


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