Retail Marketing Leaders Trend Report: The Top Online Performers and Strategies in 2018
Customer expectations in the retail world are changing. Conductor’s new retail trend report for 2018 clearly demonstrates that it’s essential for retailers to provide specific, personalized experiences that aren’t limited to late-funnel purchase decisions or desktop e-commerce.
While 62 percent of retail market share in organic search is not dominated by a single brand, retailers like Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Amazon.com are leading the pack with omnichannel strategies driven by customer needs across the purchase journey.
“Clienteling” means personalizing the shopping experience using customer data to better meet their needs. Now customers expect that experience digitally, and it’s not limited to high-end retailers by a long shot.
That means understanding your customers’ needs and meeting them long before they click the "Buy" button. In 2018, smaller player Ties.com took 24 percent of organic market share for early-stage searches, grabbing the top spot from YouTube with high-quality, interactive educational content tailored to its customers. Ties.com found success as a smaller player in a competitive digital retail environment by taking a clienteling approach to content strategy.
Part of the expanded definition of retail marketing is in the types of results Google is serving to customers. Fourteen percent of retail search queries featured images as the first result on the page. Six percent had answer boxes, another early-stage content signifier.
Nordstrom is highlighted in the trend report for the success of its omnichannel approach, including prioritizing early-stage content, curating recommendations for customers, and featuring aspirational images in content-rich blog posts and other nontraditional retail pages. It's those reasons why Nordstrom ranked in the top three results on Google for over 6,000 retail search terms. The upscale department store is a great example of a brick-and-mortar legacy brand embracing the possibilities of digital retail far beyond conversion.
Nordstrom did deep research on customer preferences and integrated that knowledge seamlessly into its content strategy. For example, one customer segment was interested in wedding dress trends, so Nordstrom created “how to wear” blog content around wedding dresses. That won Nordstrom the top ranking on Google for “wedding guest dresses,” which people search 165,000 times a month.
An added bonus of clienteling as content strategy is that once you’ve created valuable content, you can target both current and potential customers via a variety of channels. This is increasingly important as customers use multiple channels to research purchase decisions and shop.
Conductor dove deep into the way smartphones have profoundly impacted the experience (and expectations) of customers, and how the top brands have found solutions. Smartphones influenced more than $1 trillion in US retail sales last year, but only accounted directly for 3 percent.
According to 2018 search data, Amazon, Macy’s, and Nordstrom dominated retail mobile search results. The brands that have been able to create specific, curated customer experiences at every stage of the purchase journey have found success on mobile.
The larger impact of the customer-first, clienteling approach? Someone searching on their phone for a new trend finds a helpful blog post from your brand, which leads them to products available for sale on your site. Even if they don’t purchase on mobile, your brand has created a seamless experience between the mobile and desktop versions of your site, so they're able to easily toggle between the two. You've built a relationship that increases traffic and revenue.
In the end, the lessons from the data in Conductor’s retail trend report are clear: personalized, expert content should be leveraged in all marketing channels to reach your customers where they are, with the content they want. That’s how the best brands make people convert — and keep coming back.
Holland Dauterive is director of professional services at Conductor, a content marketing and SEO platform.
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Holland has spent the last ten years in SEO, focusing mainly on e-commerce sites, including Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, West Elm, and ModCloth. She has also worked on B-to-C sites, like Uber and Choose Energy. Prior to her time in SEO, Holland worked in buying and wholesale management for brick-and-mortar retailers. Currently, Holland is the Director of Professional Services at Conductor.