Jack Reynolds came into ecommerce through a side door. He wanted to be a music man, and landed his first gig at BMG Columbia House, where he picked music CDs to sell on the website. He loved the work and quickly rose through the ranks. At the time, he didn’t even realize how much segmentation and analytics, how much “ecommerce marketing,” he was actually doing. “For understanding its customer,” he says, “BMG was like the Harvard Business School.”

As the market for physical music and books spiraled downward, Jack looked to shift into an industry where the product couldn’t be downloaded and commoditized. In 2012, he became Executive Director of Ecommerce at the cosmetics giant, Clinique. Jack hasn’t lost his rebellious music spirit, however, and pulls no punches while picking apart the conventional wisdom around Omni-Channel, Mobile and Content Marketing.

What trends do you see driving ecommerce marketing in 2015?

The big buzzword you’ll hear is, “Omni-channel.” And to me that’s a little disappointing. It’s kind of a “no shit” argument.

Really there’s been a perversion of the term. “We have an app, we have a website, we have a store” — of course! But that’s not omni-channel. Being a data guy, for me the critical key is to get multiple-touchpoint analytics that create a single view of the customer. You can talk all day about the buzzword, but how are you pulling all that together to create a seamless experience for that one customer? Omni-channel is not a “trend” per se, because if you are not doing it you don’t exist.

“Mobile” is another hot topic this year.

Again, obvious. The trick for mobile is to match the offer with the behavior. I believe you need a second platform purely for mobile, as opposed to just a responsive site. It’s not a screen size question, it’s an experience question.

How do we get customers converting at higher rates on mobile?

Multi-brand retailers and stores with lots of repeat purchases can incentivize customers to store their payment data, so a purchase is one click away.

For brands without lots of repeat purchases, I’d ask: are low conversion rates on mobile a death knell? If the information leads a new customer to purchase on the desktop or in a store, probably not.

Is there a favorite tip or trick you can share for acquiring new customers?

For Clinique, the proven generator goes back to the days of Mrs. Estée Lauder herself, who basically invented the ‘gift with purchase’ business model. We go out with it online and through our affiliate programs, and it is very effective because there’s real value.

What’s one thing you are convinced that you’re right about, but find tough getting others to believe?

The honest answer is, people don’t want to come to your website to read stories about your brand. And that opinion flies in the face of another big buzzword, CONTENT. When was the last time you went to Nike.com to check out what was happening with Nike?

Uh, never.

Right.

Content needs to be used in the appropriate channel. Instagram, Youtube — all of those things are essential. The challenge is when marketers believe customers should come to your website to consume that Content. That’s where I depart.

Yes, the website should house all of the things you do. But the reason people come to the site is to find the store, purchase a product or check out a review. If you are just focused on telling equity stories and you are in the commerce game, you may be losing money.

Does Content have value for brands outside of ecommerce?

Content is the lifeblood of a brand to declare what it has to offer and tap into the relevant culture. It says, “We are in the conversation.”  It’s the when and the where that’s really vital.

It can be difficult to put an ROI against Content marketing.

Depending on Content to drive revenue is, well… Sometimes it does, but mostly it doesn’t. It depends on the content. What’s most important is to set the right goal for the right channel.

And there are new ecommerce marketing channels coming online all the time.

The existence of a new channel or platform does not necessitate your participation. Don’t get exhausted chasing every single one. Look at where your customers are and get the critical channels right first.

The biggest thing I’ve learned throughout my career is to be analytical, be a numbers person. Be data-driven and test everything. Ecommerce is the one business where you can actual tell if you are getting it right.

The opinions expressed are those of the individuals and not representative of any company or employer.

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