April 25, 2014, 3:13 PM

An online vitamin seller nets new customers with personalized ads

LuckyVitamin.com says 1.33% of new visitors return to the site within an hour after viewing a personalized ad served by vendor MyBuys.

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Vitamin and nutritional supplements e-retailer LuckyVitamin.com has been recapturing 1.33% of new visitors to its site on average within one hour of serving them a new type of retargeting display ad, says CEO Sam Wolf. The ads, from personalization vendor MyBuys Inc., have also increased customer engagement rates—measured as scrolling through product recommendations or hovering over an ad for more than two seconds—by 5.92% on average.

Called MyAds, the format uses data on customers from MyBuys’ active shopper database, which includes behavior and preference information on more than 250 million U.S. consumers, plus some in Canada and the United Kingdom, according to Chip Overstreet, senior vice president of marketing, business and corporate development at MyBuys. It collects that data from its hundreds of e-retailer clients. Using that, the vendor in minutes can target a new shopper with an ad displaying one to four LuckyVitamin.com products that it determines she’s likely to be most interested in buying, he says.

MyAds can also time an ad’s delivery based on when and on what device that shopper typically makes purchases. For instance, if she usually browses retail sites in the early evening from her iPad, MyAds might serve her in the late afternoon a tablet-optimized, personalized ad from a retailer whose site she visited earlier. MyBuys keeps track of customers across devices and web browsers by connecting such identifiers as their e-mail addresses with their device IDs, says CEO Bob Cell.

Timing is the key to the success of the MyAds personalization technology, according to Wolf. LuckyVitamin.com had tried other retargeting tools in the past, but was never able to generate enough additional sales to justify the cost, he says. “Even when you’re using these specific data sets and groups where you can select who you want to target behaviorally or demographically, the problem is you’re not hitting them when they’re ready to buy,” he says. “You’re really just throwing a lot of things out there and hoping it will stick.”

With MyAds, Wolf says the retailer has been generating a roughly four-fold return on investment. The vendor charges a percentage of the revenue its ads drive, Cell says, without giving details on the pricing.

“The beauty of the system and the software is it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you,” Wolf adds. LuckyVitamin.com doesn’t need to go through its entire product catalog and manually set up rules for which items go well together or should be connected for cross-selling or up-selling in MyAds, he says. “That can take a lot of labor and energy—and with our catalog of north of 30,000 SKUs, it would be nearly impossible,” he says. “We let MyBuys use the data to make recommendations based on what they see the customers actually doing.”

Only occasionally when the retailer has a new product line or some items it wants to highlight does it ask its MyBuys account manager to manually override the recommendations, Wolf says. “Sometimes we’re right and it shows some lift, but sometimes it’s maybe not the best plan,” he says. That, he says, is why LuckyVitamin.com generally defers to MyBuys’ algorithms to select which products appear in ads.

MyAds launched in the second half of last year, and so far 200 clients have signed up, Cell says. 

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