Takeaways from DCA – Email Marketing, Video, Direct Mail, and Customer Psychology (episode 127-5)

Last week I attended the final DCA event of the year. That’s the Direct Commerce Association – a great group of eCommerce, Mail order and multichannel businesses.

I have updates coming on:

  • Using psychology and customer profiling to improve your sales
  • Video marketing
  • Email design
  • Direct Mail advice

*WARNING* – the text below is my script for the podcast – full of useful things, but if it doesn’t make sense – please listen to the podcast! And sorry abut the typos!!

Subscribe on your Favourite Podcast App

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts

dca autumn conference
Using psychology and customer profiling to improve your sales

Ok, these are updates from two different sessions at the conference, both of which focused on getting a better understanding of your customer in order to improve marketing and increase sales. Coming at it from two very different angles.

I’ll start with the marvellous Matt Curry of LoveHoney who explained how they’re getting on with customer profiling and segmentation.

Then it’s the key parts of a presentation by Tim Gray, from Digivate who explained how psychology can be used to improve CRO and UX.

Matt Curry LoveHoney

For those of you not familiar with LoveHoney – they sell sex toys.

Which poses all kinds of challenges, especially in understanding why customers chose to buy from them, and helping the customer along their sex toy educational journey.

(Matt if you’re listening – apologies for explaining this sooooo badly)

It’s actually a problem that pretty much every business has – understanding WHY the customer choses to buy what they buy. Or to visit the site in the first place.

It’s just far less well understood in the sex toy marketplace, because people just don’t talk about it.

And the WHY is really key to getting the sale. If you know WHY they’re choosing to buy you can help them along the journey to purchase.

Matt took us through how Love Honey have been working to better understand their customers, in order to structure their marketing, landing pages, and purchase journeys to fit their customers needs.

I really liked the approach they’ve taken as it’s so down to earth and easy to understand. So I’m going to run through it –in the hope it inspires some of you to do this in your business….

STEP 1 – they interviewed 10 customers above how they buy sex toys.

STEP 2 – they analysed the results of those interviews to work out what made the customers different – leading to a customer quadrant.

2 axis represent the key ways in which customers segment themselves:

–          Are they making the decision alone or with their partner?

–          Do they want to make their sex life more fun, or are they looking to solve a problem?

How simple is that?

Gives them 4 customer types.

customer segments

STEP 3 – revisit the interviews to build a purchase/experience journey/map for each customer type.

Work out the ideal type of journey. Then….

STEP 4 – pick a segment and re build the homepage / landing pages to fit them. A/B split testing the new version.

Then build that through the rest of the journey through the website.

Once you understand your customers you can start using Psychological twists to encourage the purchase. This was the focus of Tim Gray’s session where he outlined ideas of how to deploy the different Psychological twists outlined in Cialdini’s Influence (which if you haven’t read it you should).

Like the Growth Hacking tip to use 5 second testing to get your pages to give out exactly the right message from last week’s takeaways from PI Live, Tim advocates getting to the bottom of the what the role of each page on your website is, and making sure achieves that role. Tim suggests the 3 questions each page must answer for the customer are:

  • –          Where am i?
  • –          What can I do here?
  • –          Why should I do it?

Good examples he shared are Airbnb, Abel & Cole and Amazon.

Reciprocity:  If we’re given something, we feel indebted to the giver

So free gift offers are great – even though they haven’t yet got the freebie!

Social proof: exists to save us energy – other people have done the evaluation for us

So share testimonials, number of customers etc

Or tell them what the average person buys from you – what’s the bestseller?

Scarcity: don’t let it run out!

Limited edition products are great for this.

Commitment and consistency: This is where if you get someone to do something once, they’re more likely to do it again.

Offer a free trial, and someone is more likely to pay for it later.

(complex one – best read it in the book!)

Authority of your other customers

Which companies / individuals use you? Have written about you – this is where PR comes in

Liking people buy from people they like

You need a good about us page. Tim suggests sofa sofa as a good example

Psychological Friction is your biggest threat to getting a sale. It slows users down.

So make it easy – little step by little step – big checkouts are less likely to work, just ask a few questions on each page.

Lose the voucher code box!

Make the path easy to follow

Copy is also your friend if you want to reduce this, be specific and give facts. Think:

–          “we will get back to you within 1 hour” not “we will get back to you soon”

–          “customer service team” not “Sales advisor”

–          “we’ll pay for your shipping” not “free delivery”

–          “we don’t have a call centre so we can offer you even better prices” not “a missing phone number”

Don’t underestimate the power of copy. A banner advertising a free consultation saw 117% more enquiries completed when the text was changed from “free consultation” to “work with us”.

Video marketing

I took 2 key lessons from Matt Whelan from The Specialist Works session on video marketing…


Matt splits marketing video into 3 types along a continuum from “Earned” to “Paid”

At the earned end we have “Discoverable” content – so think search, YouTube, social media. Anywhere you put your video without paying for it.

At the paid end “Broadcast” content – think TV ads.

And in the middle “Promoted” content – the videos you spend your ppc £s on. Facebook, Youtube etc.

I thought that was a really interesting way to think about it. Because the content and messages and format of your video would be very different depending on which one you’re creating it for.

Successful videos are those that are where the customer wants to watch them – and that tell a compelling story. Can work really well on social media.


On Facebook it’s key to chose the right objective:

–          Click

–          2 second watch

–          10 second watch

Email design

Jalna Soulage of Cheetah Digital did a great session on how to make your emails great. A lot will be a refresher, but there were are few new nuggets in there too.

Do it all and you could see your CTOR (click to open ratio) increase by 155%!

Here are the key ones I’d recommend:

Subject Line

o   If you think emojis might resonate with your audience – give it a test


o   Don’t repeat the subject line

o   Do use it to grab attention – so products and offers are a great idea

Header area

o   Make your logo instantly recognisable

o   If you have a navigation bar it should be the same look and feel as the one on your website

Overall design

o   Make sure it looks like your website!!!

o   Brand should be recognisable even when the header is hidden

o   Themes are ok, but keep them to a minimum and always put the brand first

o   Consider an inverted pyramid layout above the fold to draw the eye down to the rest of the content

o   Avoid lengthy emails – 7 short messages max, or 5 big ones

o   Use numbers to drive eyeballs through the email – so if it’s top 5 products, number the products

o   Don’t forget the social proof

o   Have a good balance of text and images

o   Short sentences with keywords – make it scan-able

o   Always have social media icons in the email, and keep the placement consistent (either TOP or BOTTOM)


o   Have a clear call to action above the fold

o   Have lots – but avoid overload

o   Always should be the same colour, font, shape – trains the customer to find them

Direct Mail advice

It wouldn’t be a DCA event with some content about direct mail!

SO here we go.

The impact of DM appears to be increasing:

–          Percentage of UK consumers who’ve bought or ordered something as a result of direct mail 36% 2017 vs 27% 2016

Response differs by type of DM, so this is the percentage of consumers who admit to reacting to each of these types of post:

–          Vouchers 48%

–          Local offer 27%

–          Delivery 40%

The catalogue is really evolving – being seem increasingly as a brand experience piece, a shop window, which provides the consumer with much-needed me-time. And they drive purchases into all channels. And consumers don’t see them as an advert!

79% claim to have taken action after receiving a catalogue.

Miranda Christie from OKA Direct explained a little about how their catalogues have evolved in recent years.

They now produce a number of different types of catalogue:

–          The big Look Book that comes out once per season

–          A big Directory of all the products – again once per season

–          Then smaller books (36-48pp) every 4-6 weeks

Within these there is now much more editorial content. Collections are edited to help the customer choose, and content is set along side the edit to educate. For example articles about product types or areas of the home, and guest content from Country Life’s Interiors Editor.

This content doesn’t necessarily impact the specific product but it has a huge halo effect. And drives a lot of instore engagement. Leading them to do events focused on the same content areas at the current book.

Still in the DM arena:

Daniel Dunn of Paperplanes did a great session on how programmatic DM, integrated into an existing abandoned baskets campaign caused a HUGE uplift in sales. I’m not going to run through that here because Daniel did a very similar session for the eCommerce MasterPlan Virtual Summit – so you can actually watch that one! Check it out (for free)

And Andrew Curran of Retain.me did a quick session on how the personalised order confirmations his company enable have a really positive impact on sales. You’ll have to check out his site to understand more about that one.