Keeping a Pulse on Competitors: 4 Ways Retailers Can Still Get Ahead in 2018
Ever wondered how your competition’s marketing plans stack up? Or whether your team is doing enough to keep up with marketing innovations? With an increasing amount of content and conversations, grabbing your audience’s attention — and keeping it — can be challenging for any retail marketer in today’s landscape.
Add on the pressure of watching your company's bottom line and ensuring that your investments have the highest return, and it can be hard for marketers to pinpoint where exactly to focus.
In a recent RetailMeNot survey, “Nine Retail Marketing Trends in 2018,” 200 senior retail marketers provided insight into how and why they're planning for specific marketing goals in 2018.
By now, most retailers have locked into their major marketing objectives and goals for the year. However, there’s still plenty of time for retail and brand teams to re-evaluate what worked in the first quarter and what they might want to change going forward.
Here are four key areas to focus on:
New Mobile Tactics Are Top of Mind
While tactics like voice-assisted shopping and augmented reality are all the rage among innovation enthusiasts, they're not necessarily the methods that are top of mind among retailers this year. Most are focused still on one thing: mobile.
Doing mobile the right way still poses a challenge for many players, specifically ensuring that the mobile web checkout experience lives up to consumer expectations and results in bottom-line gains. Based on survey results, more than half of decision makers say that mobile checkout (52 percent) and mobile offers for app users (51 percent) will drive the most positive sales growth and will be a focus for them in 2018.
Additionally, among retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence, in-store cash-back offers and card-linked offers rank high, with more than half (54 percent) planning to test these tactics before other futuristic marketing directions, such as chatbots (40 percent) and voice assistance (39 percent).
Direct Media Buying Surges
While programmatic buying is one of the fastest-growing areas of digital marketing, retail marketers have become keen on ensuring that their messages are reaching the right audience — i.e., one that's likely to take action and make a purchase. In an effort to better monitor the quality of their traffic from advertising investments, more than six in 10 retail marketers (63 percent) will increase their direct media buying in 2018.
Additionally, after spending much of 2017 debating the success of programmatic advertising buys, nearly half (48 percent) plan to reduce the amount of fraudulent advertising traffic by reducing programmatic spend. With this in mind, retailers should expect to see shifts in the media landscape and begin to re-evaluate who they're partnering with on both the direct and programmatic ad fronts.
These steps can help ensure that retailers are receiving the highest return on investment and cleanest data, which plays a crucial role in helping to make future investment decisions. Competitors in this space are already reviewing their advertising spend; it’s never too late to start a discussion with your advertising partners.
Budgets Should Be More Omnichannel Focused
Survey results show that nine in 10 retailers will increase marketing spend this year, and marketers will spread their increased budget almost evenly among channels such as social, mobile, brand and display. However, more retailers have a specific budget dedicated to social media marketing (78 percent) than they do for email marketing (67 percent) and driving mobile conversion (67 percent).
Additionally, pulling all marketing levers will become necessary for extending brand reach to consumers who are shying away from traditional media, such as cable television and radio.
Furthermore, by driving an omnichannel marketing strategy, retail marketers can influence shoppers across online, mobile and brick-and-mortar shopping. Mobile marketing is one area where retailers are now moving their teams from a pure e-commerce focus to sitting squarely among a full digital marketing team in order to impact all channels. In fact, 72 percent of retailers use mobile marketing to drive in-store sales, while 82 percent use it for mobile app sales, and 93 percent use mobile marketing for online sales growth.
Expand Content to Reach New Audiences
Marketers who want to capitalize on the spending of younger generations are shifting budget toward Gen Z (65 percent) and millennials (68 percent), and away from older generations like baby boomers (22 percent). This new generation of shoppers are digital and savings savvy, and they seek brands and technologies that make buying what they want, at an affordable price, easy.
One way retailers can target them is to partner with platforms that serve content that reaches these audiences throughout their entire shopping journey. Nearly nine in 10 marketers surveyed (86 percent) said their brand will partner in some capacity with websites or apps focused on promotions, deals and loyalty.
Further breakdown shows the majority prefer to work with comprehensive deal and website apps (62 percent), followed by cash-back-only platforms (53 percent) and loyalty-specific apps (50 percent). Additionally, retailers are seeing the most return from general deal websites and apps, which provide a comprehensive digital marketing solution that can drive brand awareness and revenue through a variety of channels to a very targeted audience.
One thing is certain: Retailers should anticipate the industry’s shift away from e-commerce, m-commerce and store-specific initiatives toward a focus on just commerce overall. Solving for customer pain points and delivering seamless experiences, even when testing new tactics to gain the attention of new users and re-engage current audiences, will be the winning combination for brands as we head into the back half of the year.
Marissa Tarleton is the chief marketing officer of RetailMeNot, a site offering coupons, promo codes, sales, cash-back offers, and gift card deals for thousands of stores and brands.