In an age of instant access, customer loyalty is a rare commodity. The idea of consumers purchasing the same brand that their parents or grandparents did seems quaint in comparison to the seemingly infinite options presented to them today. So, how can retail marketers not only gain new customers, but maintain their loyalty? It comes down to knowing the consumer, and that knowledge can be gained through behavior-based marketing strategy.
One of the biggest changes in the digital marketplace is the shift from click-based marketing to behavior-based marketing — i.e., reactive to proactive strategy. Click-based marketing is reactive, based on information gained from customers who have already converted. Behavior-based marketing is proactive, based on predictive analytics and information gained from prospects to determine who is likely to convert. Understanding the behavior and interests of prospects allows marketers to focus their energy on those who demonstrate the highest propensity to buy. As with any good relationship, the more a brand understands a customer and meets their needs on a consistent basis, the more likely a customer is to be brand-loyal.
This is where tools like targeting and scoring come into play. Targeting allows retail marketers to build audiences based on first- and third-party data like browsing history and behavior — e.g., what websites prospects visit, where they already shop online, what interests they display on social media, what products are their prime rather than periphery interest, etc. Once those audiences are built, scoring helps determine each individual user’s propensity to buy at a given point in time based on their engagement on a retailer’s site.
These tools alone aren’t enough to achieve and maintain customer loyalty; they require sound marketing strategy to make them work. That strategy can be boiled down to three simple steps.
1. Gather insights. A majority of prospects are unknown to retail marketers. Targeting is often the best way to reach those consumers, allowing marketers to assess pre-existing data to accurately create audience segments based on a user’s online behavior. Those segments can then inform where budget should be allocated and what type of creative will resonate most strongly with consumers who demonstrate the highest likelihood of conversion.
2. Take action. You have the audiences — now it’s time to activate. The reality is 98 percent of visitors won't make a purchase the first time they visit a retailer’s website. Scoring can help by identifying the best way to reach each potential customer based on their real-time behavior on-site. That means marketers can zero in on the 2 percent who have the highest propensity to buy, while building retargeting strategies based on the browsing data of the 98 percent who didn’t purchase to increase the likelihood of a sale.
For example, consumers who consistently come close to buying but exit before completing a purchase could be served with a discount pop-in that appears when mouse activity indicates they’re about to abandon their cart. A retargeting strategy could also be implemented and served up to remind them of items left in their cart, or offer a discount viable only by clicking through an advertisement. Additionally, retail marketers could set parameters surrounding the amount of time a visitor spends looking at a specific item (e.g., a free shipping offer appears if the shopper has been looking at the same product more than five minutes, or returns twice in one day). Scoring can help identify both the easy points of conversion and the pain points where most consumers are lost.
3. Follow up. A retail marketer’s job isn’t complete just because a customer made a purchase. Nor does that single purchase — or however many come after it — guarantee continued loyalty. Marketers should be reaching out to existing customers on a consistent basis, offering incentives, thanks and new products based on that customer’s past interest. Techniques like scoring are just as important post-purchase as they are pre-purchase. They give marketers a continued, real-time view of consumer interests. For example, did that consumer who has purchased apartment storage solutions in the past just gotten into the market for a house? Did that single consumer just get married or become a parent? Let your data answer the big questions about changes in customer behavior before you even have to ask.
The big payoff to customized, consistent customer engagement is the Holy Grail of retail marketing: loyalty.
Jonathan Baron is the chief revenue officer of Ignition One, a cloud-based marketing hub with a powerful data management platform.
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