E-Commerce Innovator of the Year: Greg Yeadon

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06/23/2021
Patrycja Malinowska
Director, Member Content, P2PI | profile
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Greg Yeadon

Senior Manager, Innovation
Clif Bar & Co.
Years in current position: Promoted in April to senior manager of innovation after two years as head of e-commerce marketing.
Previous work experience: Led consumer goods management for more than a decade, with stints in brand management and innovation at Central Garden & Pet, Edgewell Personal Care and 3M.
Education: Master’s in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management; bachelor’s from the University of Richmond.

 

Why?

Yeadon arrived just in time to bring order to the chaos of an exploding e-commerce channel.

Clif Bar leaned in to the changes in shopper behavior driven by the COVID-19 pandemic to holistically grow e-commerce traffic, conversion and – ultimately – sales, a success made possible by the e-commerce leadership of Greg Yeadon.

Yeadon joined Clif as head of e-commerce marketing in 2019. One of his primary responsibilities was to develop and execute innovative marketing programs to grow the brand online. He says there were two keys to the brand’s ultimate prosperity: internal preparation and leading with consistent communication.

Yeadon’s knack for organization helped the company develop a straightforward method of approaching e-commerce that cut through what was previously viewed internally as a busy, chaotic channel. “I knew I had to create something to help the teams get a better grip on how to run an e-commerce business,” Yeadon says.

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That manifested in the form of a pyramid loosely based off of Maslow’s classic Hierarchy of Needs. The base of the pyramid, product availability, represents the first step toward winning in e-commerce, followed by content; ratings & reviews; product placement and search marketing; price promotion; and, finally, paid media at the top.

In application, brand teams move up the pyramid only when they feel confident that they’ve hit a minimum viable threshold on the prior step. “We’d have goals for content, ratings and reviews, search marketing, price promotion – and if we had everything lined up and we had budget with our company and our brand teams, we’d get in paid media where it made sense,” he explains.

Yeadon’s “Educate and Inspire” presentations provided an active approach to bring core colleagues in brand, sales, finance, operations and innovation up to speed with Clif Bar’s efforts in e-commerce, and to share with them best practices to online success.

“We built a mental model in 2019, but did a lot of evangelizing of it in 2020, to the point where many colleagues across the company fully understood and internalized the message,” he says. “I think that really helped people focus – and focus was kind of missing.”

One major improvement realized under Yeadon’s leadership last year was heightened visual engagement across retail platforms. Yeadon pioneered the use of AI technology from Vizit to assess and improve the brand’s e-commerce product detail page content. The visual intelligence insights helped his team better understand the impact of the brand’s visual content across the digital shelf, giving them the power to measure and optimize their images. Populating product pages with the highest performing carousel images led to elevated page traffic for key products and resulted in more than a 100% increase in conversion rates during the test period. The insights were subsequently carried out across the brand’s portfolio.

“We expanded, populating our retailer platforms with what we call our ‘Gold Standard’ content so everybody had the best stuff,” Yeadon says.

Clif Bar also expanded retargeting efforts using Amazon Advertising from search to programmatic, upper funnel media, and evolved its retailer advertising strategy to an “always on” approach. The moves led to significant growth, driving sales not only on Amazon but across the whole retail network, with a recent campaign driving cross-channel return on average spend that was 10 times higher than previous results.

“We did a follow-up marketing mix analysis and it was clear that this advertising was really strong and drove a ton of results. So that was a really good add-on to things we wanted to do and had the data for – really proved the case there,” Yeadon says.

Additional improvements included the start and expansion of search marketing campaigns and programmatic advertising across various retail platforms with the help of another partner, Flywheel. New software tools also enabled the brand’s consumer affairs team to initiative monitoring and response to online reviews across most major retailers.

“There is so much we did, and so many small wins that ladder up to large and substantial changes to the organization and its performance,” Yeadon says.

After two years as head of Clif’s e-commerce marketing, Yeadon in April was promoted to senior manager of innovation.

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FINALISTS

 

Cathy Lauro
Shopper Marketing Manager
Unilever

Lauro leads omnichannel shopper marketing for the entire Unilever portfolio at Kroger, including targeted digital and e-commerce marketing efforts via Kroger Precision Marketing. She was quick to shift Unilever’s creative and targeting strategy in concert with the new shopping trends that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lauro canceled traditional in-store tactics and moved Unilever’s approach down the purchase funnel to digital communication, increasing investment in product listing ads, on-site display ads and search marketing. With the goal of engaging and retaining new shoppers that were buying categories in grocery that they previously would have purchased elsewhere, she developed a phased strategy that correlated with how Unilever thought the U.S. would recover from the pandemic’s impact, keeping shoppers engaged with situation-relevant creative. These tactics delivered a ROAS (return on ad spend) five times greater than benchmarks. Subsequent retargeting of both loyal and new households drove repeat trips, bigger baskets and increased household penetration, generating share gains across more than 70% of Unilever’s categories and laying the groundwork for the company’s entire grocery channel strategy.

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Abishake Subramanian
Senior Director, Head of Advertising & Media Partnerships
Sam’s Club Media Group

Sam’s Club Media Group has more than doubled business each year since Subramanian took on responsibility for ad sales, account delivery & management, product marketing, ad tech and media partnerships in 2016. By acquiring the agency that had represented Walmart and Sam’s Club, Triad, Subramanian and his teams played a critical role in bringing retail media in-house, building an omnichannel platform on IRI’s Liquid Data technology and customizing it to the Sam’s Club’s environment, the Member Connect Insights Solution. Today, closed-loop targeting and measurement capabilities let brands evaluate media performance and optimize creative, frequency and placement decisions while campaigns are running, based on independent measurement from IRI, which provides incremental sales across sub-campaign elements. In addition, ad-exposed audiences are available for ongoing analysis in the platform, enabling retargeting as well as basket affinity and switching behavior monitoring. Diving deeper into core metrics and analytics, the retailer is starting to share data beyond media reporting and ROI, such as membership-based metrics, converted new buyers, and conversion within curbside, home delivery or in-club channels. Going forward, Subramanian will continue enabling media optimization. “A lot of focus is going to shift into creative automation, enabling self-served display and search platforms for suppliers,” he says.

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