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5 Minutes With Cassie Lancellotti-Young, EVP Sailthru

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Sailthru.

Before Sailthru, I led performance marketing teams for many years and invested a lot of time in understanding consumer behavior and leading data and analytics initiatives to improve marketing return on investment and customer experience at the same time.

What got you into the retail sector in the first place and why do you enjoy it?

I started my career as an internet and media analyst at Citigroup Investment Bank and also consulted for leading digital brands such as AOL and SapientNitro. What I love about the retail sector is being above to put myself in the shoes of the customer and use data to understand consumer psychology.

Knowing that we’re helping retail marketers evolve their thinking and move from short-term to long-term objectives makes me feel a part of something much larger.

How did you get to your current position as EVP of Sailthru?

As a customer of Sailthru before joining, I had first hand experience of how customer-centric they are as an organisation. 

Being EVP of Sailthru allows me to match my experience of driving quantifiable results through optimising products and services, with our obsession for making our customers successful.

We get to push the limits of what technology can do to support retail marketers in their quest to engage customers with personalised experiences across all channels. I can draw on my experience of supporting business growth and lean business development to help our retail customers become more successful. 

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How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Spending seven years working as a direct marketer for a variety of B2C companies before joining Sailthru makes it easier for me to elevate the dialogue with our clients.

Retailers need to shift their focus from short-term conversion to programmes that deliver long-term gains, but this is perceived as being a significant challenge when quarterly goals still need to be met. 

With my background, I’m able to not only bring empathy into our customer relationships but to work with our customers to make it easier for them to focus on initiatives that allow them to continue to meet near-term needs without sacrificing profitable growth over the long haul.

Explain Sailthru.

Sailthru helps marketers build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers – which is especially important in the retail sector. 

By personalising individual customer experiences across digital communication channels – in email, on a brand’s website and in mobile applications  one-on-one relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn. 

What makes us unique is our data structure – where legacy marketing clouds are built to be channel centric, we’re built to be customer centric. We have one data store and all channel data is stored within individual customer profiles so that experiences within any individual channel leverage data from every channel. The net result is increased retention and increased revenue. 

What can you tell me about the Retentionomics Forum that was held last month?

The discovery that retention-focused organisations are driving both revenue and growth is compelling. However, many organisations are still investing large proportions of its budgets into acquisition – which is often the case with many retail brands. The panelists at the London Retentionomics Forum were from different brands, but they all agreed on one thing: that retention is key for long-term profitable growth.

The forum also reiterated the need for an integrated customer acquisition approach, highlighted by organisations that have increased investments in retention over the last three years including the retail sector. The results showed over-performance against both retention goals and acquisition goals, as well as a three-times higher likelihood of significantly increasing market share, compared with those organisations which prioritised increasing acquisition investments alone. 

Who are your main competitors in the industry?

New retail-focused technologies are being developed at a furious pace. Just a few years ago there were maybe 500-600 notable technologies in the market across all forms of ad technology, marketing-tech and retail-tech. 

Today, there are thousands of organisations and we compete with the top players in the market. This includes the consolidated marketing clouds, data analytics solutions as well as point solutions in the retail sector along with the other channels that we service. 
 
Who are you working with currently?

We work with some of the world's fastest growing ecommerce companies, including Rent The Runway, JustFab and Alex and Ani. As far as projects go we’re focussing on cross-channel initiatives such as linking email, web and mobile personalisation to create a fully connected digital experience and helping customers optimise acquisition programs with Facebook.
 
Our Prediction Manager capability offers 13 out-of-the-box predictions, including probability of making a purchase, predicted revenue generated and probability of opt-outing out of email. Predictions are made for every customer on a daily basis and take into consideration the complete history of customer and reader behaviors across email, web, mobile, social and offline channels.
 
This allows our retail customers to predict which customers will purchase and how much they will spend to automate top customer segmentation and the acquisition of new, high value customers with Facebook. The program has already generated significant results.

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What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking in eCommerce?

Too often the focus is on short-term growth, but long-term success in ecommerce is achieved by connecting acquisition and retention. The Retentionomics study validates that being able integrate acquisition and retention as one working unit will enable brands to identify high-quality customers who are likely to re-purchase and be loyal to the brand, compared to those who are on-off purchasers. 

If a business is just starting out then it has to go through the process of acquiring customers, of course, but make sure there is a strong retention strategy in place and then use data to optimise future acquisition. By bringing in higher value customers from the start organisations will be set for success, which we’re proving with the Facebook program.

What would you say is the biggest risk for your sector, given the current climate?

The biggest risk in our sector is the constant focus on short-term conversion and the focus on features, rather than futures. 

Retail marketers need solutions that are going to help them meet their needs today and in the next three to five years as consumer behaviours continue to evolve. However, much of what's out there isn't designed to meet those needs.  
 
Any last words?

Customer experience and customer centricity are really important for retailers’ long term performance – but in this digital age when "one-size-fits-all’ engagement strategies fail to engender loyalty, the topic is experiencing a much-needed renaissance.

Customer service departments are most often a focus of customer experience initiatives, but this is a reactive approach. By starting with marketing, retail brands can proactively create loyalty through retention-focused programmes before “service” is needed to protect the longevity of the customer relationship.

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Published on Thursday 04 August by Elias Jahshan

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