Zappos Grows Customer Loyalty Through Experiences
Zappos.com, the Las Vegas-based online shoe and apparel retailer, is known for its industry-leading return policy and first-class customer service. The company is also making a name for itself with innovative marketing tactics. In a presentation yesterday at the eTail West conference in Palm Springs, Calif., Joe Grusman, general manager, e-commerce marketing at Zappos, detailed how the online retailer is evolving its marketing strategy for consumers who increasingly seek out experiences with brands.
Customer experience is rooted in our company DNA, said Grusman, adding that surprise and delight is part of customer service. He cited examples such as people calling Zappos' customer service line just to hear the company's joke of the day, and that its customer loyalty agents have no script. In fact, Grusman noted the company record for a customer service call is 10 hours, 43 minutes! (With bathroom and meal breaks built in.)
To help explain how Zappos has made experience an integral part of its marketing strategy, Grusman shared some steps the brand has taken.
Marketing is the Voice of the Customer
After conducting research and talking with its customers, Zappos learned that running was a common interest among its shoppers. With that information, Zappos sought out to build an experience designed to engage and benefit runners. The retailer's Run-on-One campaign is a 30-day program that aims to help runners stay committed to their running goals by having Zappos customer loyalty agents call and provide words of encouragement to shoppers who sign up for the program. Furthermore, to help its customers get into the right running shoes — a common challenge for runners — Zappos offered a 30-day return guarantee no matter how many miles were run in the sneakers.
Grusman initially targeted a goal of 100 sign-ups for the Run-on-One program. That goal was easily met, and there were 500 others on the program's waiting list.
In addition to building community and giving its customers a valued experience with the brand, Zappos also optimized its site to sell more running sneakers. But it took some work. After 24 iterations, the running category page was finished, leading to less bounces and higher conversion and average order value rates.
An Homage to the Past
To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, for a limited time Zappos reverted its homepage back to the way it looked in 1999, when the company launched. The tactic was done to both celebrate the business but also engage its community of shoppers. The response to the campaign surprised Grusman and his team. Traffic to the 1999 homepage was up 30 percent vs. the same day the previous year, and 60 percent of that traffic were new customers.
To help engage those new customers through the rest of the year, Zappos teamed up with some of its leading brand partners (ASICS, TOMS, Ugg, Birkenstock, Brooks, and others) to create custom product as well as special promotions and activities. For example, Zappos and ASICS teamed up to host a Rosé 5K run to celebrate the online retailer’s 20th birthday and a new special rose champagne-colored ASICS running shoe. And to make the event even more fun, runners were given rosé for every kilometer they finished. Now that's an experience!
Grusman closed his presentation by providing a sneak-peek into what Zappos has planned for its e-commerce marketing this year. The brand is targeting what it calls the "CEO mom," who makes the majority of shopping decisions for their household. For example, Zappos is working to provide curated outfits for its Zappos Kids collection. Also, the retailer has launched The Style Room, a fashion site for the CEO mom with curated outfit collections. Lastly, Zappos is targeting what it feels is an underserved community, female sneakerheads, with its The_ONES program.
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