The Key to Connection: Creating Meaning Through Engagement
Online retail is all about moment-based marketing. Connecting with the right customer at the right moment with the most highly relevant message is key to increasing conversions and decreasing cart abandonment. However, many retailers are missing the mark and losing out on fostering meaningful connections with customers.
Every shopper has experienced a retailer’s failure in the immediate post-purchase phase, especially online. An email coupon may arrive for the very item that was just purchased, or a misguided jumble of search terms leads to a completely off-base product recommendation. It’s a surefire way to decrease a customer’s likelihood to become a repeat purchaser; they don’t believe their needs are being understood. That’s why consumer engagement is key, not just before a purchase, but during every phase of the customer journey — from consideration through to advocacy.
Become a Mind Reader
It’s easier than it seems. Using data from online behavior and activity, retail marketers should be able to anticipate a customer’s needs before the customer even realizes those needs herself. Building strong audience segments using tools like engagement scoring can help marketers achieve this kind of hypertargeting, and the result is a customer who is more engaged because they were served a highly relevant ad that proved a brand understands their needs. The benefit here is twofold — the customer benefits from an ad that doesn't waste their time and shows them something of genuine interest, and the brand benefits from an engaged consumer who is ideally now browsing through products and providing even more data that can be used for further engagement. It’s a continuous cycle that leaves both parties satisfied.
The Power of Suggestion
It's not uncommon to receive a suggested product advertisement that's completely off base. It’s frustrating for the consumer, and can easily lead to brand abandonment. Marketers need accurate, up-to-the-minute data to tailor messaging to customers accurately, especially when suggesting additional products based on a consumer’s past behavior. That’s where next-best product modeling comes into play, which is already making an impact on the industry when done correctly.
Next-best product modeling allows marketers to deliver meaningful product recommendations to consumers based on their personal experiences with a brand. When combined with tools like a score, which offers real-time analysis of a user’s behavior on a website, this model is a powerful recipe for success in the online retail space.
Follow Up and Follow Through
The customer journey doesn’t end following a purchase, and it’s easy to take customers for granted who have already made a purchase or are repeat buyers. Creating valuable connections means communicating consistently with the customer and continuing to offer them opportunities of interest through email, social and website personalization. Keeping track of a customer’s online activity and other data factors after their purchase is key to maintaining a meaningful relationship. Retailers don’t want to be the friend who only shows up when they need something — i.e., knocking on a customer’s digital door simply because it’s been awhile since they made a purchase. Rather, they should strive to position themselves as a helpful friend who knows the customer well, and has their interests in mind whenever an offer comes up.
The Bottom Line
Customers understand that retailers have access to their data, and as a result of that, they expect a more personalized experience than they would have had paging through a catalog a decade ago. It’s up to the retailer to build and maintain a meaningful connection with the customer from the consideration phase through retention and advocacy.
Brett Meager is the vice president of customer success for IgnitionOne, a marketing cloud technology provider.
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