PrettyLittleThing boosted personalized media; revenue jumped 38%

Marketing always needs to change alongside consumer behaviors and preferences. But, quite frankly, that level of personalization is hard to achieve, and many brands fall short because it’s often easier to not do it.

In February 2020, U.K.-based fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing (PLT) doubled-down on its customer-centric marketing by working with Epsilon to serve highly personalized digital media as it scaled to new markets. The work was so successful that the brand even managed to buck pandemic trends and reported an annual revenue increase of 38% in 2020.

Kristy Hynes, PLT’s paid media manager, says that the brand’s success is due to a greater focus on the human side of marketing.

“A lot of marketers forget the human influence behind the figures and consequently base performance decisions on uncontextualized data sets,” says Hynes. “This encourages media models that are focused on big segments of customers, and high-volume, low-quality communication, instead of building independent customer interactions.”

PLT’s marketing has always been built on rigorous customer-centricity and stand-out personalized experiences (not to mention collaborations with celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Hayley Bieber and Ashley Graham). It’s a forward-thinking fashion brand aimed at bringing killer, affordable style to female fashion breakers and makers—PLT is, and has always been, customer-first.

“If we only worked to antiquated models like last-touch attribution, it would mean we actually optimize away from a large portion of our customer base—younger demographics who generally don’t click on ads,” Hynes says.

How did PLT achieve truly personalized marketing in 2020, and why did it work so well? Let’s discuss.

From last-touch to PrettyLittleThing’s approach

What makes PLT’s approach to digital media stand out? Actual personalization.

We’re not talking about tiny segments or cohorts—we’re talking actual one-to-one personalization to the individual segment of 50 that still has 50 different people in it.

Instead of antiquated models, “What we are looking for is to understand individual consumers’ needs, using data insights, technology and creativity to then share bespoke content that’s uniquely adapted to the viewer, at a time when they are in market,” Hynes explains. “We are continually measuring for incremental growth and optimizing to what we are seeing in real time. It’s a two-way, dialogue-driven model, instead of a one-way push model.”

Working with Epsilon, this new approach to personalized digital media helped PLT expand to new markets in 2020 and contribute to its 38% annual revenue increase:

  • 10,000 unique messages served during peak advertising weeks in 2020
  • 20x the initial scale, having initially launched in the U.S. before expanding to four markets
  • 30% of the new U.S. customers PLT gained in 2020 were influenced by Epsilon’s program

“We are now able to tie marketing back to an individual,” Hynes says. “This means a reduction in wasted budget, because we are able to serve to a person rather than a device. Some of our customers can use up to seven devices, so the efficiency of speaking to individuals, not segments, is significant.”

Hynes goes on to mention that this approach ultimately serves the customer by reducing unnecessary communications while conserving the brand’s budget.

“We are also able to track movement from a completely cold prospect all the way through their journey until they are transformed into an extremely loyal PLT advocate, enabling us make smarter cross-channel marketing decisions because of it,” Hynes explains.

Are you measuring the right way or the wrong way?

“A lot of people talk about incremental measurement, but there’s a right and wrong way of doing it,” Hynes says. “The choice is between an assumptive method with a high margin of error or a scientific model that gives an exact, verifiable figure that can drive effective marketing investment.”

Accurate measurement can get complicated very quickly, and it honestly takes a lot of time to do it right. Some companies can take hours, even days, to build and rebuild audiences for digital messaging; whereas Epsilon’s consumer profiles are updated in real-time to help inform the next best message for the consumer, which leads to the best outcome for each brand. 

“We don’t just know what our customers are doing within the measurement of a single platform,” Hynes says. “We can map their movement cross-channel and adapt our communication to where they are in their journey and show them products reflective of their personal styles.”

As for how Epsilon factors into PLT’s success, Hynes referenced an old marketing adage.

“There’s an industry joke that says the person who can solve the challenge of multi-touch attribution and keep every channel owner happy will be very rich indeed,” Hynes shares. “Well, Epsilon gets it very close, if not hits it on the head. At the heart of their solution is transparency and collaboration.”

**This article was originally published on Adweek, November 2021.