Driving Stronger eCommerce Sales With Rachel Tipograph

Rachel Tipograph Founder & CEO of MikMak
Rachel Tipograph Founder & CEO of MikMak

Rachel Tipograph is the Founder & CEO of MikMak, an eCommerce marketing platform for multi-channel brands. She was formerly Global Director of Digital and Social Media at Gap.i Rachel has been honored by many publications for her creative and entrepreneurial endeavors such as Forbes’ “30 under 30”, Marie Claire’s “The 50 Most Influential Women in America,” and Fast Company’s “Most Creative People.” She is also the co-host of the podcast Brave Commerce, an investor at Harlem Capital and Cleo Captial and an advisor and investor to various early-stage startups. She takes us through the playbook she’s run for the last 15 years of her career on how to drive eCommerce sales and how you drive growth online.

What was the inspiration behind MikMak?

From 2011 to 2014, I ran global digital at Gap; I was there for three positive years of the company’s growth; net profits had increased by 70% and digital went from 5% of overall revenue to 25%. Unfortunately, Gap and just apparel at large is a totally different story right now. But the reason why I quit my job had nothing to do with Gap and everything to do with the internet. I realized that the key driver of eCommerce was also the most annoying thing, which was promotional emails. If you’ve ever shopped a Gap, you probably have been hit 500 times over with a 40% off offer. And this isn’t just a Gap problem, it’s an industry-wide problem. So I had this burning question: how do you drive sales online, not annoy people, and even make that cool again? My boss, the global CMO, said to me, ‘Rachel if you figure that out, that’s a billion-dollar idea.’

I became obsessed with trying to figure it out and observed three interesting trends. One was early signs that video was going to be the predominant form of content on the internet. The second was the change in the customer journey. No one was entering the store anymore through the front door. Everyone was using all the side doors that no one was paying attention to. And then, finally, the kicker. I watched Gap’s organic search results rise because consumers were turning to Amazon looking for Gap products. These were all early signs that the major e-retailers were about to become the new walled gardens. So that’s when I decided to quit my job to build MikMak.

What is the key to a successful online sales strategy?

The first piece is understanding what causes brands to become the most valuable companies in the world today. What causes it is ownership over first-party data. What does first-party data mean? It’s just a fancy word for first name, last name, household address, email address - any unique identifier that can tie any activity to a person. Now the reason why this is so important is that the moment you give up your first-party data online, you give up your brand. The second thing is to understand that you have to design for the mobile phone when designing your go-to-market strategies. It has to be the heartbeat of your go-to-market strategy because it is where consumers spend all of their time.

The moment you give up your first-party data online, you give up your brand.

How can brands better convert consumers to purchase?

First, you’re immediately communicating what this product is. Second, you are literally telling people, this is why you need to buy this product within the first 1.5 seconds. The third, and most important thing, is to be creative. Because your competition on the internet isn’t just a like-minded brand. It’s every piece of content out there fighting for consumer attention. But honestly, it is the third most important thing because if you don’t get the campaign objective right or the audience right, creative content doesn’t matter.

Then there’s my favorite thing. I call it the power of the pixel, every single ad manager has a pixel. A pixel is essentially a marker. It allows you to say this consumer indicated intent. Because they watched 50% of our ad, they ended up on a product detail page. And now we want to harness that intent and put them into an audience to remarket to them. The reason why the pixel is so important is that it will likely take multiple interactions to get someone to convert. At Gap, we had a rule of thumb, it took three positive interactions to get someone to buy an item on, meaning you saw an ad, you got an email and your mom told you about a cute coat. Boom, now you buy. It’s a pipe dream to think you can set one ad and the consumer will buy it. You’re going to have to segment audiences to retarget them. And the way that you do that is with a pixel.

Do you think programmatic advertising is critical to the marketing mix no matter the brand or company size?

So programmatic is built for scale. Meaning if you’re a small business and you have very few dollars to spend, I don’t think you’ll have enough to spend to make programmatic worthwhile. But if you can put like $100,000 against programmatic, then I do believe it’s worth experimenting with. But if you don’t, then I wouldn’t encourage you to do that. I would say you should be investing in Facebook ads and Google search.

Do you feel strongly about a certain spend split between your re-marketing and prospecting performance advertising budget?