The September 2023 event took place at ExCel London for two-days of inspiring talks from leading marketing minds. 

Unlocking customer retention: strategies to drive repeat e-commerce purchases and boost sales

The day’s keynote talks kicked off with a bang thanks to a powerhouse of a panel with speakers from some of the world’s biggest e-commerce brands; Nadina Guglielmetti from the The Vitamin Shoppe, Sarah Holley from Nestlé, Christopher Thomas-Moore from Domino’s and Sarah Willis from Minted, led by Jill Dvorak from CommerceNext. We told you they were big!

The conversation began with how each of the brands compete for share of wallet, unsurprisingly, the answer was encouraging loyalty

Domino’s introduced a new programme aimed at doing just that. Christopher spoke about how many food brands are devaluing their schemes. So for Domino’s, instead, their loyalty scheme was about ‘More, more, more!’ (sung in the voice of Andrea True). Stay with me. What he meant by this was that Domino’s put the customer first and made the scheme attractive - they brought the minimum spend down from $10 to $5, and expanded the redemption menu, which in turn, opened the brand up for single purchases which was great for new customers. The pizza retailer added numerous perks such as anniversary discounts and member appreciation. 

For The Vitamin Shoppe, they evolved their loyalty programme in 2019 which focused on rewarding behaviour instead of purchases. The panel all nodded when Nadina explained that rewarding for a purchases isn’t enough anymore. Built in partnership with Oracle, the programme was based on points collection via customer actions, so answering a survey, adding your birthday, watching a video, downloading the app or visiting a store. The relaunch saw a 49% lift in shopping frequency - this is huge! 

“Rewarding for a purchase isn’t enough anymore.” - Nadina Guglielmetti, COO, The Vitamin Shoppe 

After launching, The Vitamin Shoppe realised they needed new customers to earn points faster to engage with the programme, and as a result, understood the importance of having to actively communicate what you’re doing to your customers. The brand created a variety of lifecycle programmes, embedded into their email sequences. They also designed an email shoebox which goes into every email which tells customers what tier they are on and how many points that have in every email. Nadina explained this was a big win for them early on. We love this idea to keep the programme front of mind for customers.

The second theme of this keynote talk was innovation

Domino’s uses ‘tension mapping’ to understand the broader contextual environment of their audience. The tension map has three levels: tensions in the life of customers, category tensions, and overall environment tensions. The team blend these tensions together to unlock their brand actions, and this activity birthed the innovation of Pinpoint Delivery. 

In partnership with Google, Domino’s launched technology that allowed customers to drop a pin wherever they are and have pizza delivered anywhere - at a soccer match, in a park, on the beach. Magic!

Finally, the last theme to come out of the keynote talk was the power of partnerships

Whether working with influencers like Logan Paul, tech partners like Google or brands like Disney, the panelists all shared examples of partnerships that have accelerated their brand to be more innovative, more engaging and reach new customers.

Christopher Thomas-Moore from Domino’s got the audience excited when he shared about the Domino’s x Stranger Things app, where users could order pizza whilst in the Hawkins Laboratory, without clicking anything. They called it ‘mind ordering’. Genius. This partnership made sense for the brand which is technology-first and looking to reach a wide and younger audience. 

When speaking of partnerships, Sarah Willis from Minted shared that the partnership should feel easy. Her tips were, “You should both have things you get out of it. Keep it simple. And it should feel natural. Know who you are as a brand and don’t sway from it for anyone. Identify your KPIs - measure what you’re trying to do and test and learn based on that.” 

The panel left us with examples of their favourite brands who are winning at customer retention. Sephora featured twice due to their personalised test sizes and light touch tone of voice - “It’s time for your refill. Are you ready?” 

Starbucks also featured twice; the panel all shared the view that the app experience is incredible and as a result, despite it not being the best coffee, they go anyway. This highlighted the power of knowing your customer and understanding that convenience is a key driver in the food to go market. 

How Pasta Evangelists captured the hearts (and bellies) of foodies across the UK

After the keynote, we headed straight to The Future of Digital Marketing Theatre for our team’s most anticipated talk of the day - the food e-commerce start up star that is Pasta Evangelists

Senior Marketing Manager, Angharad Exley, shared the stage with Klaviyo to speak about the strategies they devised to bring brand growth and build brand love for the artisan pasta pros.

Pasta Evangelists has made the most of Klaviyo, seeing exponential growth in their email engagement and conversions. This year they have worked closely with Klaviyo to elevate their email templates and visuals to support 2023’s objective of brand premiumisation. 

As the brand looks forward to 2024, their key email objective is personalisation, working further into this strategy which sees powerful results in email. Angharad explained that they use SendGrid to send transactional emails. The tool harbours customer’s dietary preferences (e.g gluten free) and enables them to send personalised content based on data. For example, with their ‘Have a free dish for us!’ promotional tactic that the brand uses regularly, they can send free dishes that are linked to dietary requirements and avoiding customer’s personal allergens. This year, they plan to focus on using more dynamic content in campaigns to further personalise the experience. 

For new email subscriber acquisition, Pasta Evangelists use a blend of brand partnerships and discounts to reach pasta lovers. They’ve recently partnered with Ooni and Clarence Court on email acquisition partnerships. Once the competition is over, the brand always follows up with a welcome flow and offers a discount in the first email to encourage conversion.

Discount on the first purchase is a key acquisition strategy for many food and beverage brands, so it was interesting to hear Pasta Evangelists’ thoughts on discounting as a premium brand. Angharad mentioned that using discounts is still an important strategy for them to lure customers in, but instead of relying on them all the time, the brand also likes to use seasonality to talk to customers and encourage purchase. If a discount is used, it is always aligned with AOV targets. 

Referral is also a key strategy used to grow the brand. They partner with MentionMe to offer £10 off our takeaway when you refer a friend, framed on their website as ‘Free Takeaway’ which is sure to get clicks! 

When it comes to retention, Pasta Evangelists have activated some creative campaigns that gathered impressive results. Our two favourites were a reactivation flow for customers, “Do you remember how tasty your last order was?”

The campaign that really got us excited?

Their end of year campaign, ‘Pasta Unpacked. Like Spotify Wrapped, Pasta Evangelists worked with Klaviyo to sync customer purchase data which showed customer’s most ordered dish. The campaign was sent to 100k recipients, with messaging like, ‘You ordered Beef Ravioli 76 times!’ and ‘We’ve made enough pasta to travel from Venice to Verona’. They included a thank you £5 off your next order code which reactivated 2000 customers. Incredible results! 

Laylo Wine - Going from £0 to £1m: things I’ve learned creating something from nothing

We like a decent wine. We especially like a decent wine that has amazing sustainability creds, so of course Laylo Wine has been on our radar for a couple of years. 

Founded by Laura Riches, ex Marketing Director of Naked Wines and Laura Rosenberger, ex COO of Naked Wines, these unstoppable women have grown this DTC wine brand through their experience, sheer grit and determination, and launched some super creative campaigns that performed so well they broke their website!

Launched in 2020, the brand is championing beautifully-designed boxed wines which stay fresh for six weeks once open and centres its thinking around the fact that you can just enjoy ‘the odd glass’, not having to polish off the bottle due to not wanting to waste it.

We’ve all been there.

Laylo initially adopted ‘The Naked Wines playbook’. Recipricol vouchers that Naked Wines do a lot of with big e-commerce brands, and then they started turning on paid ads.

The main takeaways from this very inspiring talk were two fold. 

Number one… It’s time to get gritty and creative with start up marketing rather than relying on the comfort blanket of the usual channels. 

After spending £30-40k a month on paid social this time last year (2022) and seeing returns dwindle, the Lauras began to adopt a more guerilla approach. The pair stood out on the street with signs and wore their own ‘wine snob’ caps. The team hustled as much as possible to get on TV too. Laura stalked on Instagram to find out the Sunday Brunch Producer’s birthday was coming up. She wrapped up a box of Laylo wine like a birthday present with a pretty bow, rocked up at he office reception and pretended to be her friend dropping off a birthday present. The Producer was so intrigued that she came down and accepted the present herself, which led to Laylo being featured in a boxed wine segment on Sunday Brunch. We’ve got a lot of respect for this!

"It’s time to get gritty and creative with start up marketing'" - Laura Riches, Co-Founder of Laylo Wine

The team ran a hugely impactful email campaign telling customers about their ‘Zuck’ moment when £15 for each new customer goes straight into Mark Zuckerberg’s pocket! Instead, they gave new customers £15 off a box of their wine. 

The email went viral and found its way to expert copywriter Dave Harland who shared it with his 100k audience.

Takeaway number two - you can’t do everything. You have to learn to say ‘no’ to some things (like canned wine!) which are huge time suckers away from your core focus. 

Laura explained that a lot of the ‘good work’ has come from personal brand building, and their personal relationships and networks - Laura posts on LinkedIn everyday. The wine duo have also found that DTC feels like a hard slog when the trade orders start to kick in, so are currently maximising trade opportunities to further support their DTC business. 

A talk filled with so many great lessons that we can take into our marketing meetings and into 2024. 

Next year’s event is already in the diary!


Abby Millar

Content specialist with experience in food & drink