Yext Study: Retail Marketers Still Have a Long way to Go in Adapting to the Digital Age
Good news for retail marketers. A recent study by Yext and Vanson Bourne shows that retailers are more aware than their peers in other industries when it comes to improving their marketing strategies or risking falling behind the competition. The survey revealed that 57 percent of respondents in retail marketing strongly agreed with this sentiment, compared to just 41 percent of decision-making marketers within the financial services, healthcare and hospitality industries. Additionally, the survey found that retail marketers are the most likely to believe that improvements in this area will have a direct impact on increasing sales and revenue.
Despite high awareness of the problem, however, it’s not all good news. Ninety-six percent of respondents conceded that their organization’s marketing team is currently experiencing significant challenges. Today, less than half of decision makers believe that their current brand marketing strategy is effective. Here are some of the reasons why:
- 28 percent cited limited access to consumer engagement data from off-website sources as a major challenge. This is an important issue as consumers increasingly interact with brand content on third-party digital services like Yelp, Google, and even voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa.
- 28 percent reported not having enough visibility into how they compare to the competition.
- 27 percent thought their organization lacked visibility on search engines.
Brand management in the survey was defined by analyzing four key pillars of this strategy: managing off-website brand content (e.g., online local store listings), first-party brand content (e.g., store landing pages or store locator pages), first- and third-party reviews and ratings, and finally all the analytics associated with these efforts. Here’s how retail marketers stack up in each area:
Off-Website Brand Content
Off-website brand content includes information like online store listings (i.e., the results that pop up when you use a search engine). This information is crucial because if a site like Google has a store’s hours wrong, that store may be losing out on business. This extends beyond regular store hours to cover situations like holidays when a retailer may choose to have extended or abbreviated hours. Unfortunately, for 34 percent of retailers, the process of updating this information is manual.
First-Party Brand Content
First-party brand content refers to a store’s landing page or locator (i.e., if you were to search on Macy’s site for the hours of your local store). This area is a win for retail marketers, with more than 60 percent reporting that they have a local landing page strategy.
First- and Third-Party Ratings and Reviews
Retailers are doing relatively well when it comes to reputation management. Seventy-one percent of retail marketers indicated they're actively monitoring reviews of their products or services. However, retailers fail in comparison to their peers in other industries when it comes to actively securing and publishing reviews from their customers, with only 18 percent doing so today.
Most retail businesses are currently leveraging local rank tracking tools and comparing their search performance against their competition. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to location landing pages or off-website analytics. Here, retailers fell behind the curve.
What does all of this mean for retail marketers? In short, retail marketers are acutely aware of the changing digital landscape and the need to get a better grasp on it. And while retailers are making great strides compared to their peers in other industries, there are key areas that still need attention. Until retailers get a grasp on their full digital ecosystem, they’re going to continue to risk losing sales and customers to their competition.
Zahid Zakaria is the senior director of insights and analytics for Yext, a technology company that focuses on online brand management.