Shoppers Have Choices, Are They Choosing You?
In this ever-changing marketplace, retailers are in constant pursuit of people-based marketing strategies to meaningfully improve shopper experiences, both in stores and online. Shoppers expect retailers to know their preferences, show them items they might be interested in, and make it easy to shop, buy and receive their orders fast. With the holiday season upon us, marketers should place their focus on a few key approaches designed to make their strategies a success.
Retailers must constantly evolve to reach customers in differentiated, personalized ways, creating connected online and offline experiences that lead to long-lasting customer relationships and enduring loyalty.
At the heart of these experiences is data. Data allows marketers to better understand existing customers and identify market opportunity. With access to quality transactional data that's rich with insights, you can quickly learn the shopping preferences of your customers. However, when you’re building a customer-centric business strategy, creating loyalty requires that you look beyond capturing the next transaction. You must deliver personalized experiences with every inbound and outbound interaction over time. In the end, keeping your eye on the long-term vision will prove more effective for growth, fidelity and brand allegiance.
Your own customer relationship marketing (CRM) data can be used to directly target past holiday purchasers, past major promotion purchasers and lapsed customers. It can inform prospecting (look-alike) audiences for targeting and provide audience insights in different platforms, as well as be leveraged in digital. It can be used to provide value and utility, improving your existing shoppers’ experiences in-store and online. Understanding the data you have at the individual level will inform how you can create better customer experiences.
Prioritize Data to Drive a Personalized Approach
- Put the customer lifecycle at the center of planning; build audiences that can be targeted at any phase of the customer funnel, from awareness to purchase.
- Prioritize addressable digital platforms where you can reduce media waste by activating audience data at scale.
- Develop digital playbooks by each audience type (mandatory tactics, budget thresholds, KPI benchmarks).
- Develop distinct creative and messaging treatments for audiences by digital channel.
- Optimize learnings throughout a campaign and apply them to the next one.
Efficient and effective outbound marketing strategies driven by data will give marketers the ability to create personalized campaign streams based on loyalty and can deliver the right offer at the right time based on customer expectations and preferences. Outbound channels, including media and email, use the same type of personalization techniques to target and message appropriately, with the ability to shift spend based on performance. It has become increasingly important to achieve the agility necessary to make real-time shifts based on demand, ensuring your media mix is working toward the best return on investment.
Tips for Digital Audience Targeting
- Use remarketing lists for search ads (RSLAs) for return holiday shoppers, and make them more powerful with demographic data.
- Leverage customer match lists — these audiences must be made up of at least 1,000 identifiable emails and must be obtained firsthand by the advertiser.
- Prepare display and paid social audiences.
- Implement platform pixels to build audiences based on e-commerce site visitation.
- Extend audience durations — people begin their holiday shopping earlier each year.
- Leverage CRM data to inform your audience targeting and channel selection.
Your brand recognition in the market drives inbound inquiries. Marketers must create strategies for both outbound and inbound in order to create better connected experiences this holiday season. As people enter your ecosystem, whether through your website, app, call center, store, etc., your data should drive their experience. Do you already know them? Are they part of your loyalty program? And if so, are they being treated differently? When someone calls in, do you already know who they are, how to speak to them, and what to offer before you talk to them all based on their loyalty level? These are questions you should ask yourself, and if any of your answers are “no,” you should consider how you turn those answers into “yes.”
Marketers drive their branding and messaging in the market. Your outbound messages need to be personalized, and when customers come to you, there must be a quick pivot to a personalized inbound experience based on the relationship. In a nutshell, customer experience will be the singular competitive differentiator this holiday season.
Patrick Hounsell is executive vice president, head of retail and consumer goods practice, Merkle, a performance marketing agency specializing in data-based marketing solutions.