5 mins with Mike Austin, CEO & co-founder, Fresh Relevance

A serial entrepreneur, Mike founded his first software business when he was 16 and has been developing software and software businesses for more than two decades. Having worked in digital marketing for the majority of his career, Mike is an expert in tying digital experiences with traditional marketing databases, with a deep understanding of data and how to leverage it.

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Tell me about Fresh Relevance

Our mission is to help digital marketers get their job done. Generating more ecommerce revenue and encouraging shoppers not only to make a first purchase, but to return again and again, are key objectives for many online retailers. In order to achieve them, marketers need to be able to understand their shopper’s needs and act based on them. While working at my previous email marketing business, I recognised how difficult it was for marketers to access customer data and deliver a seamless experience across channels.

Fresh Relevance was launched six years ago to solve this. Our personalisation platform puts marketers in the driving seat and gives them the tools they need to increase sales and customer loyalty. They can collect customer data in real-time and use it to provide an amazing experience to their customers across email, web and app.

What exactly is personalisation?

Many retailers think they’ve mastered personalisation if they’re offering product recommendations. But an effective personalisation strategy entails more than suggesting items the shopper might like in order to hit short-term revenue targets. In our work with retailers, we see that personalisation yields the best results when an experience is offered that is tailored to the customer at every touchpoint. This means using the information retailers have about each customer to understand and deliver what will be most useful at that exact moment. It includes the marketing tactics deployed, the type of marketing (or assistance) messages served, the time of day content is sent and the channels that are used.

Personalising tactics based on customer context, such as their physical location or local weather, are a starting point. Does a shopper visit your website from Brighton but seems undecided? Show them in which store nearby they can test and see this product in real life, etc.

But brands need to access behavioural customer data to make their marketing truly engaging. For example, data insights can inform the content or imagery a customer sees when they land on a website or open an email. Is a shopper interested in jumpers? Prominently display this product category in the navigation bar. Does a customer always buy black shoes in size 6? Show products in their favoured colourway or let them know which footwear in their size has gone on sale.

Why should retailers take it seriously?

Customer expectations have evolved, and shoppers now expect to be treated as individuals. Delivering the same content to everyone is just not good enough in today’s market.

Personalisation makes the customer journey simpler, more convenient and engaging. It increases the odds of a conversion and is a very reliable revenue driver. Even from light-weight forms of personalisation, such as cart abandonment emails or product recommendations, retailers can expect to see a significant increase in conversions. On average, companies report a 14% increase in revenue per visitor and 6% increase in order value. Going deeper into personalisation can not only get better conversions, but also help with loyalty, satisfaction and advocacy.

What are Fresh Relevance’s clear differentiators compared to other products in the same market?

Fresh Relevance wants to empower the marketer and this mission is reflected in how the platform is built. It’s a very comprehensive solution that offers digital marketers all the tools they need to increase ecommerce revenue. They can manage and analyse their customer data and segment it based on any criteria they like. Based on these insights, they can execute tactics such as triggered emails, product recommendations, social proof, behavioural targeting and geotargeting. And test and optimise any campaign element for maximum impact.

The platform is great at the basics, such as cart abandonment where we recover more shopping carts than any other system. And it’s brilliant at solving specific challenges – such as tailoring any element of your online store to the shopper’s stage in the customer lifecycle, including offers, images and navigation bar etc.

We also understand that marketers might already have solutions in place that they’d like to keep. Therefore, we don’t force customers to rip and replace their tools or purchase solution bundles that include functionality they don’t need. Instead, we play nicely with their existing martech stack and let customers pick and choose the Fresh Relevance features they actually want.

Who are some of your noteworthy customers?

People might think that real-time personalisation works best for consumer goods such as apparel, jewellery or cosmetics. The uplift here is indeed impressive but we actually see that personalisation delivers great results no matter the industry.

One of my favourite examples is power tool provider FFX Tools. The omnichannel retailer is always looking for new ways to provide customers with a great experience and the right tools for their needs. They chose us to move away from a static, one-size-fits-all marketing by including dynamic content in their emails.

For example, they use real-time dynamic pricing in their messages promoting flash deals. Previously, if a customer clicked on an email offer after the sale had ended, they would discover that the product had returned to its original price which was a frustrating experience. Using Fresh Relevance, live prices are now served at the time of open, ensuring that email content is always up to date.

FFX also understands that power tool buyers tend to be loyal to certain brands due to compatibility requirements. For example, a shopper who carted a Makita power tool is likely to need accessories from the same brand. Therefore, they personalise cart and browse abandonment messages based on shoppers’ brand affinity. The customer receives an email with a hero image based on the make of the carted product, and product recommendations from the same manufacturer. This targeted approach resulted in an impressive click-to-open rate of 45%.

What are your role and responsibilities at Fresh Relevance?

I love building products that people use and get value from. From its inception, I’ve been deeply involved in designing the Fresh Relevance solution around customers’ needs. As the company grows, my most important responsibility is to ensure that we stay close to our customers and continue to improve how we serve them. My other main responsibility is to celebrate the wonderful work done by our staff and to make the company a great place to work.

What role do you think Fresh Relevance has in the future of retail?

Many retailers are still merely scratching the surface when it comes to personalisation. Yet, basic personalisation tactics that consumers perceive to be simply about selling more or about proving you know them, such as calling them by their first name, won’t capture their dwindling attention.

The key to personalisation success is offering tactics that shoppers find helpful and that make their lives easier. We see Fresh Relevance as a marketer’s reliable partner who enables them to yield the most effective personalisation opportunities. By exploring customer journeys and behaviours, marketers can better understand the customer, influence their journey and deepen the relationship.

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