Bite-sized content tests bring Dick’s impressive results

Discussion
Source - dickssportinggoods.com
Jan 20, 2023

When many retailers nationwide were forced to operate as e-commerce-only companies in March of 2020 due to pandemic-related lockdowns, Shawn Wilkinson, e-commerce program manager for personalization at Dick’s Sporting Goods, saw an opportunity to launch an initiative that would enhance the company’s ability to reach the right customer. (In Dick’s parlance, the right “athlete”.) Mr. Wilkinson discussed the steps the company took to customize and target its content and the successes it has seen in a session this week at the 2023 NRF Big Show.

Prior to the initiative, Dick’s email communications had been fairly general. By assessing what users were doing on the website, Dick’s undertook a project of customizing email communications to match the interests of the people who were browsing and not converting. This project of segmentation then led to a reassessment of the website content itself.

“I really wanted to focus on getting the right messaging to the right athletes at the right time,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

After determining that the company could segment its web content as necessary and record analytics to determine customer behavior, Mr. Wilkinson’s team implemented its “Art of the Possible” program. The initiative lasted the month of April 2020, and consisted of the team launching as many “lean, scrappy test experiences” as possible on the website to see what worked.

Mr. Wilkinson gave some specific advice for those retailers wanting to undertake similar content customization initiatives:

  • Get cross-functional buy-in within the enterprise;
  • Think of a mission statement and vision;
  • Set clear KPIs to measure success, iterate and demonstrate the value of the program to get further executive buy-in.

He also suggested that retailers can find success with personalization through doing “bite-sized” tests.

“You don’t have to do these giant, grand tests that stretch across your entire shopping journey,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “You can do something very small, very easy, and I think that’s really the part that trips up a lot of people. You’re trying to go after this big idea because you want to… have this big impact. It’s OK to start small and it’s OK for the test not to always work out… it matters what you’re learning.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree with Mr. Wilkinson’s position that bite-sized content tests are a good way to pursue customization and personalization with email, web content, etc.? Do you see content customization as becoming more vital to conversions, and how can retailers most effectively customize and segment their digital content?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This makes abundant sense, and I can only hope more retailers embrace this strategy quickly."
"This is simple personalization. Break down the different customers into several personas and you can personalize at scale."
"Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly the promise of e-commerce analytics! What’s the next step? Doing exactly the same in real time within the four walls of the store..."

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12 Comments on "Bite-sized content tests bring Dick’s impressive results"


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Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This makes abundant sense, and I can only hope more retailers embrace this strategy quickly. It might reduce the number of emails in my inbox significantly. Put those algorithms to work!

John Lietsch
Guest

Home runs are fun and exciting to watch but often come at the cost of high strikeout rates. The best hitters work with the pitches and situations presented to them. I think Mr. Wilkinson’s position, if executed as advised, is a great way to hit a lot of singles and to obtain a lot of experience, awareness and knowledge so that when the opportunity presents itself, he will have additional information and muscle memory to take the bigger swing with greater confidence resulting in an improved chance of success (the home run). I think bite-sized testing is a viable strategy in understanding a fickle and competitive online space but it will require organizational patience and commitment to execute it properly (and also reduce the spam in my inbox).

Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

Your comment is right down the middle!

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Personalized, relevant content delivered in highly consumable formats is absolutely a winning formula. And test, test, test along the way, as they did at DSG. Well done from top to bottom!

Ken Wyker
Guest

I 100 percent agree with the approach to bite-size tests. Effective personalization isn’t achieved through simply customizing which products the customer sees on the website — it is the result of a combination of factors that all work together to connect with the customer and help them along the purchase journey.

Bite-sized tests allow the team to evaluate the impact of more nuanced changes to the customer communication to optimize customer engagement and response. Elements such as layout, message tone, visuals and promotional messaging can best be optimized if they are evaluated in smaller, narrowly-focused tests.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

This is the third time this week discussing how best to communicate electronically with customers. The BrainTrust response to how retailers do it today was roundly criticized.

Dick’s plan is the antithesis of deluging the customer with irrelevant communications. Bravo, Dick!

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

It’s easy to track a customer’s buying habits when they do their shopping online. It makes total sense to send them content that is in alignment with those purchases. This is simple personalization. Break down the different customers into several personas and you can personalize at scale. The right content to the right customer is a winning combination.

Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

Exactly! Next up is doing the same thing inside the store – now possible with viable solutions shown at NRF this week!

Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly the promise of e-commerce analytics! What’s the next step? Doing exactly the same in real time within the four walls of the store, leveraging both e-commerce analytics and in-store customer journey analytics to drive hyper-personalized and hyper-local offers and value. Bravo Dick’s!

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Peak pandemic, retailers really embraced this spirit of rapid innovation and testing. I would like to see more of these quick pilots rolled out in a similar way, designed for retailers to learn and adapt quickly. “Personalization” was a hot topic at NRF, and this is a great example of the type of personalization that not only works well in resonating with consumers, but also isn’t impossible to execute for retailers.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Bravo and brilliant. Thanks for the lesson Shawn Wilkinson for all of us. This will apply to everyone.

Mark Self
BrainTrust

YES. Absolutely. With attention spans continuing to shrink and content deluging our inboxes, if you go “small” regarding content and develop that reputation, I believe nothing but good can come from it.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This makes abundant sense, and I can only hope more retailers embrace this strategy quickly."
"This is simple personalization. Break down the different customers into several personas and you can personalize at scale."
"Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly the promise of e-commerce analytics! What’s the next step? Doing exactly the same in real time within the four walls of the store..."

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