A Lesson in Personalization and Customer Engagement at Teleflora

Valentine’s Day is a major holiday for many retailers, especially those in the floral industry.
Enter Teleflora.
As Teleflora officials are gearing up for Valentine’s Day on Wednesday, Tommy Lamb, Director of CRM and Loyalty for Teleflora, talked to Loyalty360, reflecting on what transpired a year ago that transformed the marketer’s personalization/customer engagement approach.
“Traditionally, personalization has been based around consumer behavior and basic trends, such as new or hot items,” Lamb explained. “The challenge for loyalty marketers today is going beyond this and integrating customer behavior with a retailer’s product data. Specifically, we needed to understand different buyer categories, such as their individual order rates per year, spending category, preference between mobile or desktop, which product category each consumer has an affinity to, and how price sensitive each customer is. Since Valentine’s Day comes only once per year, we also sought a sense of what a customer’s next potential purchase from us might be—and hopefully we wouldn’t have to wait 12 months to find out!”
As a result, Teleflora partnered with Bluecore to understand its customers and create a customer lifecycle marketing program.
“This resulted in an increase in the repeat purchase rate by 25 percent and a 4 percent increase in order values, which is unheard of in our industry,” Lamb noted. “We’re getting a better sense of how to introduce customers to other product categories we offer—if they start with roses, what in their purchase patterns indicates we can move them to spring floral arrangements and then to food?”
Last year during the Valentine’s Day campaign at Teleflora, Bluecore surfaced a “hidden gem,” a heart-shaped bouquet of red roses with particularly high performance, but lower-than-average visibility, Lamb said.
“We immediately created a personalized email campaign featuring the Heart and Soul bouquet and used Bluecore to identify the micro-audiences with the highest affinity to the bouquet,” Lamb explained. “The Heart and Soul bouquet drastically outperformed the more than 20 other Valentine’s Day campaigns we sent out.”
Following Valentine’s Day 2017, Teleflora began testing and iterating on ways to reach its customers that satisfied company goals and met or exceeded customers’ needs.
“We were able to create product affinity campaigns and likely next-purchase recommendations that allowed us to target consumers that have a high likelihood to convert,” Lamb explained. “This resulted in increased sales and happy consumers. We also started layering on audience filters that took price sensitivity into account, so we only offered up discounts to consumers who needed them to convert. Doing so resulted in an increase in profit margins as we were no longer offering discounts to customers who weren’t as price-sensitive. The results from last Valentine’s Day were some of the best we’ve seen from a campaign. For this Valentine’s Day, we’re promoting a series of ‘new arrivals’ emails to audiences of customers who we know have an affinity to the specific product or product category we’re promoting.”
What’s more, the understanding of products is just as important as the understanding of customers, Lamb noted.
“In fact, the combination of those pieces has become absolutely imperative to our marketing efforts,” he said. “We’ve begun looking at our entire product line and evaluating each offering’s attributes. Doing so will help strengthen our recommendations. We will be able to make suggestions, which, through their appropriateness, will surprise and delight our customers. Every year it seems the customer waits longer and longer to make their Valentine’s Day purchase. In 2017, we saw customers convert around three days before the holiday; this year it’s two. What has been beneficial with tactics such as our triggered email program is they continue to help frontload the holidays so when it’s do-or-die, we have less risk to hit our numbers.” 
Flowers are a very special product category, Lamb added, often associated with holidays, special occasions, and/or affection.
“These are usually times of joy, or at least great emotion and, as such, there can be a lot of pressure to ‘get it right,’’’ he explained. “A relevant recommendation reassures a customer that a given purchase really will be the right purchase for the occasion. With a specialty retailer like Teleflora, personalization and messaging becomes much more important. Typically, our customers are annual shoppers and the way we differentiate ourselves is though providing the best experience possible. We’re on the way to making ourselves more top-of-mind for other occasions. Today’s Valentine’s Day customer should be tomorrow’s Mother’s Day customer and then graduation customer. By sending relevant emails based on the intricacies we know about our customers and products, we’re building a relationship with our customers that shows we understand them and want to deliver messages that are more like good customer service than a plain sales pitch. That builds trust and loyalty.”

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