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Every Marketing Reel Needs a Hook — Automated Testing Sharpens It

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Every year, retail brands miss out on potential revenue to the tune of $18 billion (according to Forrester research) thanks to abandoned carts. That doesn’t mean rude people ditching their physical shopping carts in the parking lot, but millions of consumers being lost in the online purchase funnel for a variety of reasons. Whether the result of forgetfulness or indecisiveness, many of these cart abandonments are actually salvageable, depending on a retailer’s willingness to embrace innovative and creative marketing tactics. It all starts with a content “hook” that can reel in as many of these missing shoppers as possible.

A dull hook isn’t likely to get you any fish (read: customers) at the end of the day. In this age of digital transformation, it’s imperative that marketers have some sort of framework for generating visual assets for their brand, be it through an internal creative team or by tapping into the extensive network of influencers that are ready and available to post quality content for a price.

There is another avenue, though, that many brands have yet to follow for more affordable content sourcing — freelance and amateur creators. While they may not have 50,000+ followers on Instagram with highly curated and brand-friendly feeds, they can create dedicated photo and video assets directly intended for brand marketing needs. Not only that, but small-scale content creator partnerships allow for products to be displayed in a more diverse range of settings and demographics — a significant perk for brands looking to target their consumers with more relevant ads.

Through these partnerships, forward-thinking brands are able to give marketing campaigns a facelift, enticing consumers much more effectively than with soulless stock images and generic product imagery (the bane of complacent brand marketers). Reaching consumers where they are is another necessity for maintaining a competitive advantage, so diversifying outreach channels across email, SMS, messaging apps and social media is key to putting products in front of the most potential customers.

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The need for progress doesn’t stop there, though. Despite their work with creators across varying platforms, we’re still seeing an $18 billion chasm between retailers and consumers. The messaging and accompanying visuals are aesthetically pleasing and can account for their fair share of conversions, but the high volume of cart abandonments is ever-present. So what’s missing from marketers’ toolkits that would enable them to build a bridge over that monetary chasm?

If creativity is the bricks, technology and automation are the mortar that can hold the bridge together. While content itself carries the bulk of the weight, technology and automation play a key role in making sure campaigns can actually speak to a receptive audience. Many email and SMS ads auto-populate copy and imagery from a pool of predetermined assets, but the automation retailers should be keeping an eye on revolves around testing.

It’s easy to blast ads and even cart abandonment emails with a few handpicked images and videos, but you’re left blind to the possibilities available with automated testing. To keep up with rapidly digitizing competitors and to cut down on the almost 70% cart abandonment rate observed by Statista, marketers must recognize that they’ll need technology to help them sift through the thousands of email templates and images to find the right formula for a strong clickthrough rate.

To put in perspective how a seemingly small shift in engagement could make up a significant amount of revenue, a hypothetical retailer is in the process of implementing an automated content testing program within its marketing infrastructure. Said retailer is making an average sale of $70 per online order, and the automated email marketing system sends out approximately one million cart abandonment emails per year.

If this retailer were to implement automated testing across its promotional materials, rolled out targeted imagery and copy based on said testing and improved clickthrough rate by just 1%, its business would suddenly bring 10,000 lost customers back to their shopping carts. That translates to a potential recovery of $700,000 in revenue, which may have been lost to the void of the internet had the retailer not invested in automated asset testing.

The future of retail is up for debate, with some brick-and-mortar brands holding the line and maintaining a strong presence outside the ecommerce realm. The future of retail marketing, however, is firmly planted in digital spaces. Email campaigns already are replacing billboard spots and influencer collaborations are taking the place of TV commercials, so the next natural step for brands is to bolster their digital presence with engagement-enhancing technology.


Tom Logan is the Co-founder and CEO of NYC-based Cohley — the tech company that’s changing the way brands generate and test content. Logan leads with a “people first” mentality, continuously moving Cohley up the ranks of “Best Places to work in NYC.” He entered the tech world back in 2011 in Silicon Valley with Wildfire Interactive, then spent a few years at Google before joining UGC-focused Piqora where he met his Co-founder Erik Graber. In his free time Tom likes to play golf, drink wine from his native Santa Barbara County and relive his 15 minutes of fame: Winning a car on The Price is Right in Bob Barker’s final season. 

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