COVID-19 Retail Pulse Live

Key performance metrics and top strategies for March 25th onward

Today, Ryan Urban, CEO of Wunderkind sat down with Joe Yakuel, CEO of WITHIN, to lead a discussion with 500 eCommerce mainstays around how retailers can take actionable steps to immediately recover any lost revenue due to COVID-19. The first edition of our ongoing series COVID-19 Retail Pulse: LIVE here are our top strategies and key takeaways for the world beyond March 25th.

Key Performance Takeaways

  • Still, since COVID-19 shutdowns across the us on March 10th, New York merchants saw 54% fewer conversions and California merchants saw 32% fewer conversions on 17% and 5% fewer site visits respectively. Trends for each state switched when it came to email with New York merchants seeing a 21% increase in open rate and California residents seeing a 15% increase.
  • Washington, the first US state to see a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, saw better performance with only a 22% drop in conversions since March 10th and an 8% increase in conversions since the end of last week. This suggests they’re likely seeing the beginnings of a stop to the bleeding.
  • Our audience of 500 industry experts confirmed our own data when 37% reported that they saw an increase in email open rates over the previous 2 weeks. Crazier still, only 6% reported seeing lower rates than before.
  • Click rates have even held pretty steady—seeing nearly flat performance since the beginning of March. All of this means, email programs are edging out other strategies in terms of post-Corona performance.
  • Over the previous week, Facebook saw a rise in eCommerce spend, while Google saw a decrease. Likely signifying that retailers aren’t waiting for people to search for them and instead going on the offensive.

Strategies to regain lost revenue

You should be treating this time like it’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Many retailers have begun using this time to shore up their resources and keep from putting out new marketing into the landscape. Right now, this is likely the biggest mistake anyone could be making. Instead, you should be treating this in the exact same way that you treat Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Why? Email performance is way up.

When looking at the Wunderkind email performance data, we saw that open rates were up from 10-20% among key retailers since the beginning of March and click and conversion rates were either flat or hardly decreased. So, what we’ve been seeing is that the retailers who are recognizing this and acted on these insights by treating this week similarly to Black Friday or Cyber Monday are seeing the highest performance. Here’s how.

Normally, there’s a hesitancy to run too many discounts or sales at one time because it hurts the perception of the brand. This is true pretty much all year, except during Black Friday weekend. The retailers that we’re seeing breaking their own industry benchmarks, are the ones running promotions like it’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday now.

They’re taking these deals and they’re making them really prominent on their website so every visitor can’t miss them. We’re talking half a banner on desktop and even on mobile either a third of the screen or more. They’re featuring coupon codes more prominently. They’re also seeing a lot of success by offering tiered promotions that up the percentage discount to customers the more money that they spend.

After Black Friday is over, when we look to see why success wasn’t achieved for certain retailers, we often notice that it’s because they waited to start their deals until the exact Friday or Monday of the deal. The people who find more success are the ones who began their sales early in November. Right now, it’s now different. Share of purse and share of market are real. In order to ensure you’re taking as big of a share of that purse from your competitors as possible, it’s imperative to begin running these deals sooner rather than later.

Bucket customers based on their CAC

We’ve spent a lot of time working with retailers across every industry of eCommerce. In doing so we’ve noticed that many of them follow the same key metrics for measuring success—two of perhaps the most common are ROAS and CAC.

While there are many ways to look beyond these two metrics to a full-funnel measurement strategy, there is one strategy you can implement right now if you’re still relying heavily on these metrics. Which is…stop measuring your prospects and your audience using the exact same benchmarks for ROAS and CAC. It doesn’t make sense for your business, believe us.

We’re in a lucky time right now in that many of us are not inundated with as many meetings or day-to-day distractions as we normally have. Use this time to jumpstart effective measurement tactics for your prospects and segments. Start breaking these audiences into different categories (even if it’s just five to start with) and use this to assess which cohorts of customers (whether new, returning, heavy spenders, etc.) are performing well against industry benchmarks or well against your other cohorts and target them aggressively.

Once you’ve identified who you’d like to target, adjust your ROAS and CAC accordingly. We’re not telling you to just sit there and go after the highest value customer cohorts. We’re saying that if the CAC on one cohort is $50 and on another it’s $100, you should be prepared to spend twice as much on the latter than the former. It’s about effectively understanding what it costs to bring in these high-performing customers and then spending the right amount on acquiring them—not just assigning a blanket value to any customer across the board.

Craft content & messaging to how your customers currently live

Make sure that you’re doing a full audit of the content that is currently attached to your brand out in the world. It could be anything from digital ads to emails, social posts to webinars, or even a partner blog from years ago. Whatever it is, now is the time to do an audit of your public-facing content to make sure it isn’t coming off as tone-deaf in our current environment.

Examples of this include having your marketing feature pictures of large groups of people hanging out or featuring a larger event. Basically, anything that people in the world currently shouldn’t do, is not going to look good for your brand.

Additionally, now is not the time to feature messaging that aggressively sells your prospects. Many people are trying to figure out where they land in this new economy. Instead, take this time to experiment with different messaging. Test out things like relevant topics to your brand or different pairings of products. These will give you a better sense of what resonates with your target audience without alienating them in the process.

Adjust marketing tactics to fit supply chain issues

Many retailers we talk to right now are worried about how to adjust their promotional strategies depending on their supply chain needs. In order to help, we’ve pulled together a couple solutions to common supply chain problems:

I’m out of inventory for a bit, what do I do?

  • If it is actually only a few days away, then make the messaging prominent that it is going to come soon. Letting them know there is a delay with the exact amount of time it will take will alleviate customer pain points.
  • Use this opportunity to ask for an email.
  • For all onsite comms it’s imperative that you don’t use reverse type face. People skim over that. Make it a white background with black text. As clear as possible that this product is shipping and with their email you’ll let them know when it comes back in stock.

Our inventory has a brief delay, what do I do?

  • If there’s a longer delay than just a few days, let them know that it is coming back in stock soon. Use this opportunity to ask for an email.
  • For your highest-value orders or products of focus, it may even be good to have actual employees email customers who have ordered these products to show a personal touch and reassure them.
  • Once you have their email, send them soft touches of topics they may be interested in to keep them engaged with your brand without annoying them with salesy content they don’t want.

I’m out of inventory for the foreseeable future, what do I do?

  • At this point you have a few options to chose from. If you aren’t sure you’ll ever have the product again, you may want to remove the page from your website.
  • You can also mark that this is sold out (very clearly) and ask for emails to let the prospects know if or when it ever comes back in stock.
  • If you do have a page on your site for a fully out of stock product, make sure you’re featuring other ways to engage with the prospect. This could include relevant products currently in stock or a full-page overlay to capture that email before they bounce.


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Ryan Urban

Ryan Urban is the CEO of Wunderkind soon to be Wunderkind, the world’s leading performance marketing engine.