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In a world where mobile users are continually bombarded with digital content, having a focused mobile marketing strategy is paramount to Kevin Hsu, Marketing Manager at Touch of Modern. Last year, the ecommerce company, an online shopping destination for men to discover unexpected products, fashion brands and accessories, raised $14 million in Series B Funding. That same year, its revenue grew by 400 percent, largely impacted by the Q4 holiday period.

“The holiday season for us is tremendous,” says Hsu. “It’s any ecommerce site’s biggest quarter. We’re definitely focusing on ramping up our user base and making sure that our strategies are in place as we move into the holidays.”

The world of mobile e-commerce made a quantum leap in 2014. According to IBM, the 2014 Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for over 50 percent of all online traffic

So VB caught up with Hsu to learn just how he’s approaching this year’s upcoming seasonal frenzy.

VB: How important has mobile commerce become to Touch of Modern?

Kevin Hsu HeadshotHsu: The mobile piece of our business actually doubled from 2013 to 2014. We originally started off as a web-first platform and it was around late 2013, early 2014 that we started to see the shift to mobile. From 2014, it was starting to command a large part of our revenue, and last November was the peak — that’s when we saw that doubling of revenue contribution coming specifically from our mobile app.

VB: How does your marketing strategy change heading into the holiday season?

Hsu: Throughout the year, we try to grow our UA channels as aggressively as we can. But entering Q4, we start to focus a lot more on retention. We segment our user base into different cohorts, and we want to get those cohorts to start maturing and making sure their LTVs are rapidly accelerating with the boost of the season.

So it’s far more about re-engagement using tactics like remarketing and retargeting. It’s understanding at what point in time we need to put another ad in front of a user, ensuring the correct offers are placed in front of the right people.

VB: You still have a strong web user base; how do you connect web and mobile platforms?

Hsu: Before, we’d only be able to say “let’s target this subset of users on web and let’s target this set of users on mobile.” Now we’re bridging that connection and identifying that end user as one user – and not thinking about our remarketing per channel, or as segmented by device. We’re now focusing in on the individual user level to engage our existing cohorts.

VB: How do you ensure you’re reaching consumers at the right time?

Hsu: We’ve optimized our messaging and email delivery based on machine learning technology. This is probably ubiquitous across the industry for mobile, but early in the morning, when the east coast is just waking up, we see a surge in mobile traffic. There are a lot of efficiencies being driven there, lunchtime as well, and in the evening, and we capitalize on those trends.

On the weekends, our CPI costs will go down, but our ad feeds for mobile will go up, simply because people are constantly engaged on their mobile phones as opposed to being at work or at school. And this holds especially true during holiday season.

Granted there is that seasonality lift of rising costs; however, we still see pretty big upside wins on hitting users while they’re traveling or at home visiting parents.

VB: Does the user experience in the app change at all for the holiday season?

Hsu: There are a couple of things that will be different moving into this season. First, we’re going to roll out a new UX that introduces a new way that we’re going to operate as a mobile commerce company.

And of course, in the app, we’ll have a direct messaging focus on the holidays, creating stores for the holidays in the app that will guarantee shipping with specific times.

VB: While Q4 means an emphasis on retention, where does UA fit in?

Hsu: The majority of our ad spend will still go into UA. I have my own backend goals as to what’s going to make or break the business for the top of the funnel as far as LTV goes. It’s pretty important to have a partner — we work with Liftoff — that can help you get there. They offer a very structured service and guarantee that we hit our goals. You figure out what an appropriate CPI is, then move into determining cost per acquired customer. This kind of metric is pretty indicative of how fast we’re going reach that contribution margin payback.

exclamation-001Join Kevin and others for the Mobile Heroes webinar “How Top Mobile Marketers Prepare for the Holiday Rush” on September 29th, 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern.  Register here for free.

VB: What advice would you give a fellow mobile marketer heading into Q4?

Hsu: Right off the bat, you want to make sure you have the appropriate tracking all set up and in place. It’s critical this happens so you can look back at your data and really learn from that data year round. You want to be able to look back at previous years and identify where the biggest windfalls are.

Secondly, you need to ensure all of your creative assets, your offers, your copy, and your entire strategy is firmly in place to prevent any scrambling when the time comes. Lastly, it’s key to be communicating early and often with your partners for a seamless campaign.

For example, yesterday I was on the phone with the guys at Liftoff about making sure our messaging and creative is very curated to the holiday season, and that our custom campaigns fire on and turn off appropriately.

You don’t want to go in blindly assuming it’s just another day of marketing.

VB: Is there anything that frustrates you about the industry?

As far as the entire industry for mobile, it’s incredibly fragmented. It makes my job difficult because if you want to buy directly with a particular exchange or network you’re limited to whatever that particular exchange or network offers. From one exchange to the next, and from one network to the next, the rules change and there are different efficiencies. To solve this issue, we need third-parties to come in and intelligently and efficiently buy agnostically across any exchange or network.

VB: What’s exciting you about the mobile landscape?

Something really exciting to me is the advancement with Facebook DPAs and cross-device personalized targeting. No one has really successfully done that. Everything is still parsed by device type, even if you roll into one specific network. Facebook is now offering this hyper-personalized experience — being able to buy and target the end user regardless of where they may show up, and we already see the impact of that.

Additionally, Twitter is slowly but surely developing better ad-tech and better monetization strategies. With the advent of Twitter cards, they’re caring more about direct response performance marketers as opposed to the initial brand plays that they would do. They’re now actually developing more and more robust products to exclude users, include users, generate lookalikes and hone in on interests and affinities — all those developments have really helped us start to scale Twitter as a very strong channel for Touch of Modern.

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