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06 Oct 2021
News | 9 min read

Rockerbox’s Recap of CommerceNext IRL 2021

Rockerbox - Alyssa Jarrett Written by Alyssa Jarrett
on October 06, 2021

Last week, we boldly went where we hadn’t gone since the before times—an industry event expo hall. We joined 600+ attendees from leading retailers, brands and solution providers at CommerceNext IRL, aptly named as we returned “in real life” in New York City.

We all enjoyed a sense of community and camaraderie around all of the things we missed about going to conferences—the great content and networking opportunities, the fun swag bags, and yes, even the chance to wear a blazer for a change.

If you’re looking for a TL;DR of the event because you couldn’t make it or weren’t able to attend all the presentations in person, we’ve got a recap of Rockerbox’s roundtable and our favorite sessions just for you.

Keep scrolling for an enjoyable 8-minute read, or select the session you're most interested in for a brief summary:

  1. "The Modern Marketing Stack for a DTC Brand"
  2. "Today's Customers, Tomorrow's Growth"
  3. "Building a Modern Marketing Org for Today's Growth Challenges"
  4. "WW's Digital Transformation That Drives Growth in a Changing World"
  5. "New Advertising Strategies for a New Era of Growth"
  6. "Why DTC Is Eating the World: The Future of Brands"
  7. "How Podcasts Have Transformed Audio Advertising"

The Rockerbox roundtable at CommerceNext IRL 2021

The Rockerbox team hosting a roundtable at CommerceNext IRL 2021

“The Modern Marketing Stack for a DTC Brand”

Co-hosted by Sara Livingston, Head of Customer Solutions at Rockerbox, and Miriam Washington Kendall, CMO at MakeSpace

On Day 2 of the conference, Rockerbox hosted a packed roundtable of marketing leaders from Lemonade, The Home Depot, Seated, Wagtopia and more.

The conversation spanned best practices on new channel testing structures and evolving marketing technology stacks as companies scale.

Here are the top insights from around the table:

Channel testing requires clear KPIs...and patience. Testing new marketing channels, especially offline channels like OTT and Linear TV, is critical to the success of any hyper-growth DTC business. Most importantly, leadership teams must be aligned on their KPIs and how they’ll measure success. Nothing torpedoes a new channel test faster than the wrong test design and KPIs, such as solely focusing on CAC or ROAS with top-of-funnel channels. Many of the marketers at the roundtable commiserated over tests that had failed—not because of poor performance, but because their teams never aligned on a KPI, got impatient and ended the test early with inclusive results.

Not only optimizing on conversions. Businesses with long paths to conversion have an even harder time initially assessing marketing performance. This is when it’s critical to look at upper-funnel conversion events, like lead capture, email signup or add to cart. These provide initial indicators of user quality in that channel. Over time, you can use these indicators to establish conversion ratios and manage each channel’s upper-funnel conversion events differently.

“Today’s Customers, Tomorrow’s Growth”

Presented by Noam Paranksy, Chief Digital Officer at Tapestry

In the last two years, Tapestry achieved $1 billion in digital sales growth by focusing on reaching the right customers with relevant messages, managing their investments profitably and driving more brand love.

Here are a few dos and don’ts from the lessons they learned along the way:

  • Do plan your customer journey from end to end. Make sure you’re being as data-centric as you are customer-centric, because as Noam put it, “What is not measured is not optimized.”
  • Don’t rob your upper funnel of fuel. When it comes to returns, there is no such thing as a good or bad channel, so invest in both earned and owned media because they’re equally valuable for acquisition and retention.
  • Do prioritize customer lifetime value. It’s critical to have a dialogue with your customers, leveraging data science models to increase purchase frequency and drive category expansion.

“Building a Modern Marketing Org for Today’s Growth Challenges”

Presented by Martine Williamson, CMO at Revlon; Daria Burke, former CMO at JustFab; Bob Sherwin, CMO at Wayfair; Michael Scharff, CEO at Evolv AI; and moderator Billy May, Executive Chairman at Trademarc Partners

As a brand grows, it’s important for its marketing organization to adapt and scale to meet its business needs and accomplish its goals. While the panelists represented companies, each with unique structures and cultures, here are the things they agreed that brands need to stop and start doing in the year ahead:

  • Stop doing what you always have and start taking some risks. This was crucial for Revlon, which owns a portfolio of brands that serves different needs and audiences.
  • Stop trying to “set the table perfectly.” Wayfair treats each channel as a center of excellence with marketers serving like general managers of their own agencies. It’s more important for them to have an ownership mindset across the business rather than a perfect org structure.
  • Start asking, “How might we?” Instead of thinking you have to deliver everything in a vacuum, the culture at JustFab was all about involving others.

“WW’s Digital Transformation That Drives Growth in a Changing World”

Presented by Lucinda Newcomb, Chief Product Officer at WW, and Barbara Thau, Senior Features Editor at Co by Chamber of Commerce

Lucinda’s first day at WW was March 9, 2020, and very shortly after her biggest challenge was transforming the business in what we referred to as unprecedented times. This meant launching virtual workshops to maintain WW’s focus on support and accountability, as well as a digital subscription that offered premium coaching, content and community. 

Lucinda was no stranger to digital transformation, having previously worked at Sephora and Walmart. Here were her top takeaways to adapting successfully:

  • Meet the customer where they are. Even though their customers couldn’t participate in person, now they have the ability to bring together folks from all over the world.
  • The sooner you can lean into what is better, the sooner you can win the game. Much like we saw with the proliferation of mobile devices over a decade ago, the brands that succeed are the ones that react quickly.
  • Reevaluate your success metrics as you evolve. When your business changes, that means your KPIs should too. Regularly audit whether what you’re measuring takes your transformation into account.

The panelists in the new advertising strategies session

Panelists at CommerceNext discussed best practices for adapting your advertising strategies.

“New Advertising Strategies for a New Era of Growth”

Presented by Suruchi Shukla, VP of Omnichannel Growth Marketing at Tailored Brands; Qun Wei, Head of Growth Data & Analytics at Lemonade; Vivian Chang, VP Growth, DTC at Clorox; Josh Francia, Chief Growth Officer at Blueshift; and moderator, Adam Towvim, Partner at Chameleon Collective.

A major theme of CommerceNext IRL was regarding consumer data privacy, and this panel discussed how recent updates by Apple and Google affected their measurement tactics and channels. While their advertising strategies may differ, here are the points that crossed company lines:

  • Yes, measurement can be difficult. Vivian discussed that it’s getting harder to be precise and stitch data together, so she focuses on a blending of brand and performance channels, which means hiring marketers that understand both the creative and analytical sides to the job.
  • But that’s no excuse not to measure. Just because a channel is used primarily for brand awareness, such as TV or direct mail, doesn’t mean you can’t measure its performance. Qun recommends having a variety of methodologies, from attribution to incrementality testing to media mix modeling, at your disposal.
  • Testing is more important than ever. Suruchi addressed consumers’ ever-declining attention spans, so it’s crucial to build out a creative testing framework to ensure that your ads feel native, not intrusive, to customers’ digital experiences.
  • The customer is in control. This has been true in the days of CAN-SPAM, and it’s true now with the deprecation of the third-party cookie. Josh explains that these privacy changes are motivating brands to be more relationship-focused and recommends that you ask yourself: how are you going to make your customer not want to be forgotten?

“Why DTC Is Eating the World: The Future of Brands”

Presented by Rich Fulop, Co-Founder and CEO at Brooklinen, and Danny Wright, Chief Brand Officer at AdWeek

To say that DTC brands are having a moment is an understatement: 40% of e-commerce growth is attributed to DTC, and two out of five purchases made today are from DTC brands.

Here’s what Rich learned about building a leading DTC business:

  • Carve out a niche by developing a strong thesis of “Who are you for?” Fortunately, with online DTC, there is no shortage of tools out there that can help you better know your customers.
  • Bootstrapping is an advantage to understanding your business. Rich’s finance background gave him the knowledge of accounting, cash flow, CAC and unit economics he needed as an entrepreneur, and bootstrapping Brooklinen allowed the business to retain profitability even during rapid growth.
  • “I don’t care if something has a bad ROAS—I still want to know what it is.” Rich explained that Brooklinen is only spending 25% of its marketing budget on Facebook and Instagram, because it has over 30 channels in its mix. And now that Brooklinen opened its first retail location in 2020 with more stores in the works, local advertising is a rich opportunity for the business.

“How Podcasts Have Transformed Audio Advertising” 

Presented by Martha Gallant, Sr. Director, Audio Partnerships at Athletic Greens, and Cassandra LaPrairie, Audio Marketing at Wise

With over 2 million active podcasts available today, it’s no wonder why marketers are increasingly investing in audio advertising. But whether you’re just getting started with this channel or looking for ways to level up, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Brands should be additive, not disruptive, to the listener experience. This means respecting podcast hosts as trusted sources who will provide a warm introduction to your business. Martha always sends products to the hosts to help them better connect with the brand in their own ways.
  • Set hosts up for success. It’s important to put in the time to develop talking points, including any non-negotiables about how your brand or products need to be represented. However, learn to let go of having full control, because each podcast will have its own set of guidelines you’ll need to follow.
  • Pause before you produce. Cassandra explains that before you even consider creating your own branded podcast, ask yourself: What authority do you have on this subject? And what is your unique spin on it? However, if you already have a branded podcast like Athletic Greens had, adapt them to other mediums, such as repurposing episode transcripts into blog posts.

The Rockerbox team in the CommerceNext Discovery Lounge

Rockerboxers united in real life at the CommerceNext Discovery Lounge

Learn Why DTC Brands Rely on Rockerbox

We hope that you stopped by the Rockerbox booth at CommerceNext IRL 2021 to meet our team and learn how we’re enabling hundreds of top DTC brands with a comprehensive view of their marketing measurement and performance.

Want to discuss how Rockerbox can be your single source of truth for marketing attribution, experimentation and more? Request a demo today.

No more confusion. Just real marketing insights.

Talk to our team about how Rockerbox can change the way you spend—for the better.