Introductions, Learning about Christopher & Banks

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In this week’s episode of Test. Learn. Grow., we are joined by one of Level Agency’s media managers Abby Young and Jacquie Bailey from Christopher & Banks.  

Christopher & Banks is a retailer that specializes in women’s clothing. They’ve been around since the 1950’s, and they’ve done a great job evolving with the times. In the 90’s and early 2000s, they opened a plus size division and then consolidated both plus size and missy size under one roof. Now women of all sizes can shop together.  

In 2021, C&B took their operation online when they partnered with iMedia who operates SHOP HQ. Jacquie talks with us today about the challenge of tailoring their marketing to both brick and mortar and online customers through audience segmentation with the help of Level Agency. Read on to learn more!  

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Christopher & Banks is a place where different shoppers are coming for potentially varied reasons. This leads to the vital importance of audience segmentation and how that affects C&B’s marketing and messaging strategies. At C&B, they want to achieve the goal of having a shopping experience that spans generations.  

Jacquie says segmentation was something that she has always done when creating marketing efforts. At C&B, they have always wanted to approach it from a more holistic behavioral standpoint. This way, they can take the findings and use it to rotate through their overall marketing efforts. Jacquie tells her email teams all the time that they cannot just build something for the sake of building it, they cannot just build it and customers will come. It just doesn’t work that way.  

Introduction to Clario 

A few years ago, C&B was introduced to a company called Clario, who’s specialty was something called Multi-Touch Attribution. Clario utilizes all marketing channels. C&B realized by working with Clario, they were offering a bigger value proposition. They were able to understand the activities and behaviors of C&B customers and to take a snapshot of them over time. This helps C&B marketers to understand what customers did in between the steps and has allowed them to get very granular in who they are talking to. 

Since C&B has been around since the 1950’s that is a lot of valuable data to sort through to gain an understanding of customer behavior. Having a tool like Clario helps them to segment their audiences anywhere they want to piece them together. For example, using Clario, they can see what the customer journey looked like 3 months ago. It is remarkably interesting to be able to see the past, but also to be able to see the present where you can map out what you would want your future audience to look like.  

Level Agency and C&B are currently using the tool to make automatic audience uploads, which is a customer list of those who have shopped at their business in the past 30 days. When you upload this list, it is usually static, meaning it will not update itself with new customers. It will be that snapshot of time in the past 30 days. However, when you integrate Clario with Facebook and Google, it will automatically update that list as a 30-day lookback. This then gives C&B super relevant and up-to-date information that is important in capturing their current audience while also looking back at lost customers. It is easy for them to segment where those lost customers were and to see their journey moving forward. The second way that C&B leverage’s this tool is in how they win customers back. With the tool, they can analyze what the customer is doing so that C&B can make smarter decisions in the future. Using a tool like Clario helps not only C&B, but also it saves Level Agency a ton of time when it comes to not having to manually upload 30-day snapshots of customer behavior journeys. 

When watching this data over time, C&B can identify women’s fashion trends quickly. Say you see a buyer in September. That buyer could be completely different in December and so on. A tool like Clario really helps by reacting to these changes without C&B or Level Agency needing to intervene. Level Agency has been using Clario’s functions in Facebook, where they have promotions that use similar audiences where they have found success and have continued to target them with significant growth overall. Since Level Agency has been doing this, they have been seeing exceptional numbers coming from the most recent Black Friday season. At C&B, while using Clario’s highly efficient tools, they also still do direct mail averaging about 350,000 catalogs, as well as sending marketing emails. Jacquie mentioned that she is highly adamant about emphasizing the mistake of talking at your customer rather than to your customer. Jacquie challenges her web team to understand the percentage of people that did not convert over the percentage that did.  

Stepping into Empathy 

At Christopher & Banks, empathy plays a significant role in their marketing strategy. Jacquie says that this is the main point when she talks about the common mistake of talking at your customers rather than talking to them. You really need to understand where the customer is and meet them there. For example, say it is Christmas Eve and Christopher & Banks, whose core customer is interested in family and home, sets up a massive, targeted marketing campaign. The customer is not going to convert at that time. They don’t want to be distracted from what is deeply important to them during the holidays. Jacquie also keeps in mind that there is a fine line between being ignored and alienating people, which is where many companies begin to disengage. For example, a company’s use of AI (artificial intelligence) can really make things worse. AI can take a series of behaviors and make a bunch of assumptions to the point where everything is way off the initial plan. 

Artificial Intelligence 

AI such as Clario is helpful when processing a ton of data, and when you combine this tool with actual human intelligence and your awareness of your business, it can have a maximum effect. The part that other companies are missing is the conjunction between artificial intelligence and human intelligence. When just using AI, they are fully reliant on algorithms. Which is why C&B and Level Agency are using a segmentation tool like Clario because they can use it to test empathy. It helps to pull the information that is needed to do constant messaging tests. For example, Level Agency had a test go out for C&B that was trying to get people that normally would shop in stores to shop online, which they knew would be a hard sell. Realizing that the messaging was not working, C&B had to tweak it to consistently get returns.  C&B and Level Agency are currently working to get many, if not most shoppers, to shop online. This type of test and work takes a long time and a lot of effort from both sides. It can’t just be done with AI alone. 

The Importance of Data in an Ever-Changing Environment 

Having options makes the process go a lot faster and is super important, especially in today’s ever-changing marketing environment. We have no idea what the world will look like in 3 years, but when you can rely on the data that you have, the overall customer information will better serve you in the future.  

Christopher & Banks has brick and mortar stores as well as an online presence now. One of the biggest challenges for a marketer is to combine those together while also understanding how the customers at the brick-and-mortar stores are compared to the online shoppers. By having data that feeds from multiple diverse sources like from C&B’s website and email efforts, they have a holistic way of identifying their customers without needing to rely on website cookies. 

The Future of Christopher & Banks 

Christopher & Banks has been ahead of the times when it comes to response and overall inclusivity, with empathy playing a significant role in the past, present and future data. C&B has a ton of extensive ideas and tests they are planning to implement during 2022. What Abby is personally excited for is to test their audiences on different platforms so that they have ideas of where they are going to branch out into next. Level Agency has recently started branching out into Google Discovery advertisements which are performing exceptionally well. 

Another platform that Level Agency has been utilizing is Facebook. This has given them a lot of feedback in the comment data where they are then able to directly apply solutions. Overall, it is all about evolving and staying relevant. 

Do Not Know Where to Start? 

For those that don’t know where to start when it comes to first party data, you must start off small. Start where you are currently and make small decisions. From there, you will need to figure out a way to store your data, but do not start here, start with the questions: “what do you know?” or “what’s my customers behavior?” From there, you can show your business case, and how it evolves so you can prove there is a return, and you can get more people engaged. 

Curious about what audience segmentation can accomplish for your business? Set up a consultation with us to learn more.  

What did we miss? Give us your thoughts in a comment!

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