Monday, March 4, 2013

Cabela's Proves Confucius Right

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According to Confucius, if you choose a job you love you will never have to work a day in your life. This statement could not be truer for Dick Cabela. 

Per the Cabela’s website, it all started in 1961 at the kitchen table in the home of Dick and Mary Cabela. It appears that Dick Cabela had an idea to sell fishing equipment purchased while at a furniture show in Chicago. Cabela placed an ad in the classifieds section of his local newspaper. When that advertisement failed to garner the response for which Cabela had hoped, he placed a more enticing ad in a national outdoors magazine.

Fast forward more than 50 years later and Cabela’s has become one of the premier hunting and outdoors retailers in the world. During that time, consumer shopping and spending habits have dramatically changed. From newspaper classified ads to direct mail correspondence to online shopping to smartphone and tablet purchases, consumers are becoming ever savvier in how they prefer to make their purchases from their favorite retailers. With $2.34 billion in 2007 sales, the company is now the largest direct marketer in its industry and a leading specialty retailer.

A company such as Cabela’s must evolve as its customers evolve. So, how does a company keep up with consumer shopping habits in today’s on-the-go and mobile crowd?

Enter Web Analytics

In the ‘60s, Cabela’s garnered a huge following via catalogs. As it became more successful, the hunting and outdoors store tested various direct mail pieces.

And then the Internet evolved into what we have today – a virtual mecca comprising anything and everything a consumer could want – right at his or her finger tips! Cabela’s, knowing it had to not only compete in this new online world, but also had to measure its effectiveness, dove in with both feet, fishing rods, and camping gear in tow.

In 2005, Cabela’s began a testing and optimization program on its digital marketing efforts. According to Tony Uhlir, Internet Customer Experience Manager of Cabela’s, "Starting a testing program is easy, and a lot of times it is started because somebody heard that split testing is a best practice, so we should be doing it."

By using powerful analytics tools to sort through myriad types of customer data, Cabela's has taken new and innovative steps to understand and market to consumers across the globe. Teradata and SAS analytics tools are at the heart of Cabela’s marketing team’s ability to gather consumer demographics and psychographics. “Our current partnership with Teradata has positioned Cabela's to provide more dynamic information to more areas of the company," says Corey Bergstrom, Director of Market Research and Analysis. "We feel this expanded partnership will provide even more flexibility in terms of data availability and, ultimately, insights that can be leveraged to better take care of our customers."

Cabela’s combines web analytic tools with internal analytic capabilities. The marketing team collects web analytics and takes advantage of software tools, but the in-house analytics team provides the final results.

The team gathers web analytics, and then uses its customer identification ability to match the data to the house file. That in turn provides visibility into what that customer may have been doing through outside channels, such as retail stores or call centers.

This data integration between the different channels was a byproduct of creating a more cohesive data ecosystem, but it also impacts the split test program.

"By integrating offline data with our Web analytics, we have essentially made all the capabilities of our back-end analytics available for measuring in our split tests," stated Uhlir. "We are not limited to only measuring at the website; we can expand that to other variables."
These cross-channel metrics are used at Cabela’s for both reporting and for split testing.

Through the use of cross-information, the Cabela’s marketing team has been able to leverage digital information in multiple ways, including:

· Add alternate payments -- required measuring the impact on new-to-file rates (a metric as to how Cabela’s measures new customers added to the customer file compared to existing customers), and how many Visa cardholders were using the new payment methods instead of the Cabela’s customer card.

· Measure the impact of different remarketing advertisements -- required the inclusion of offline store and call center sales and conversion.

· Measure the impact of traditional marketing, such as catalogs.
Measure the response and quality of new credit card applications with different new consumer offers.

Through the use of web analytics, Cabela’s has learned how to build a standard tracking model. Uhlir added that this standard will help streamline the testing and data collection process, and prevent the team from having to "start from scratch" for every test.

It’s a Pin Pin Pin Pin World

For a retailer as world-wide known as Cabela’s to not have a huge presence on Pinterest is akin to a deer hunter not wearing camouflage clothing. However, one search of Pinterest and there is nary a sign of the premier hunting and outdoors specialists.

This, then, is a perfect opportunity for Cabela’s to utilize some of the magnificent Pinterest web analytics tools. For example, Pinfluencer is a web metrics app that offers a suite of Pinterest marketing and analytics products that help brands engage, grow, and measure their audience.

One of the great features of Pinfluencer is the easy ability for setting up contests, sweepstakes and scavenger hunts. Cabela’s could set up a Pinterest promotion that could easily be hosted on its Facebook page or website. Per the CEO of Pinfluencer, this new platform turns Facebook users into avid pinners . Other companies found that having contests on Pinterest increased their number of participants when compared to the contest run through an email newsletter. In addition, the app helps brands connect their social media sites together, establish a new audience, and continue to grow among current Pinners. It is great for those companies and brands that have success with visually appealing products. And who has more visually appealing products than Cabela’s?

In 2006, Cabela’s was ranked No. 1 in the outdoor retail industry. This probably is due, in part, to the fact that Cabela’s embraces the philosophy that the customer is No. 1. With a dedication to the consumer, it is time for Cabela’s to fully embrace the social media mechanisms embraced by its consumers.

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