Retail marketing today is shifting from understanding what the customer wants and providing them with it, towards being a trusted advisor who adds value to their life. Imagine how pleasantly surprised a shopper would be if she came across that perfect stole she wasn’t even actively looking for.
But to enable such experiences for customers, retailers need an army of staff who are studying customer behaviour, preferences and activity all the time. Alternatively, this can be done seamlessly with data science. Artificial Intelligence and advanced analytics are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, equipping retailers to become truly customer-centric.
The More Things Change…
The last two decades have clearly demonstrated that the fundamentals of marketing remain the same-businesses that are able to consistently delight customers are the ones that succeed. What’s changed are the mechanisms used to achieve this. Pre-digitization, communications were one-way through mass media and only touchpoint was at the physical store.
Since shoppers now consume information differently and through multiple channels, marketers are changing as well. When it comes to campaign management, these 3 things that are a must for marketers:
- Seamlessly Connecting Channels for a Consistent Experience: Managing customer interactions across channels comes across as a basic requirement, but to do this, marketers need to make sure channels and devices converge to offer a meaningful experience. This requires not just a customer data platform, but also a campaign management solution that is truly omnichannel.
- Predicting Customer Behaviour and Activating Personalization: With segmentation, marketers can understand customers and their preferences. What differentiates a leader is their ability to predict behaviors, and activate those insights such that customers experience one-to-one personalization, like they did with their friendly neighbourhood store owner. AI based personalization is not limited to just basic variables such as gender and age, but uses deeper insights such as the individual’s lifestyle, the image they want to portray, how much they value exclusivity versus discounts, their life-cycle stage, and more.
- Communicating with Customers in Real-Time: For retailers, being able to act on customer micro-moments is critical to positively impact conversion. This is where in-depth understanding of customer journeys come into play. If a shopper was browsing for a product, but did not purchase, it is easier to nudge them towards purchase with a timely notification or offering. Mobile in-app and push notifications are becoming increasingly important for engagement – it is real-time, easy to consume, and does not encounter the friction of channels such as e-mail.
The Right Campaign Management Solution Does the Heavy Lifting
The value proposition of data-driven marketing has changed. Earlier, data was used for reporting, creating dashboards and keeping tabs of spend and revenues. Today, data is used to generate prescriptions and recommendations, so that you get the best returns from marketing while maximizing customer lifetime value.
This is the new era where only what needs attention gets highlighted, and best actions are suggested. The heavy lifting of data aggregation, insight generation and simulation take place behind the scenes.
A truly advanced campaign management solution can listen to customer behaviour and execute personalization in real-time.
Mobile app based customer targeting: The right solution should enable marketers to easily target customers who have downloaded a mobile app but not registered. Or even customers who have registered, but not purchased or haven’t interacted with the app in a few weeks. This can be highly impactful with the addition of rich media notifications and in-app personalization of banners and coupon wallets.
Location proximity-based marketing: Knowing when your customers are near can offer a tremendous advantage. Being able to send promotions to customers, based on their past purchase history, when they are nearby or inside your store, can draw them to make more purchases. For example, a customer in the golf shoes aisle might be interested in a bundling promotion you are running for golf tees.
Intelligent journey builder: Drip campaigns and sequential promotions can extend journeys using customer’s response on a channel or can be based on predictive micro-segmentation. Communications that are customised (aspects of when to send, what offer to send, and what channel to send on) to live user activity have a higher conversion rate. For example, events such as mobile app launch, cart updates, or even inactivity can be used to tailor the next communication, and move customers towards a purchase.
Test and Experiment within journeys: It’s hard to know upfront what channel, what time and what combination of copy, offer and creative treatment will have the maximum impact. With A/B testing, marketers can easily assess the performance of each component and arrive at the best arrangements. Similarly, test and control is a great way to measure the effectiveness of a new tactic.
A New Era of Delivering Experiences at Scale
Technology is evolving to make interactions contextually relevant to customers. By working with online and offline data (including POS, mobile, text messaging, e-commerce and email), artificial intelligence can manage it all, at scale, in a quick timeframe for tens of millions of customers.
And retail marketers who do this well will be able to form deeper relationships, enhance customer engagement and loyalty and retain their best customers to impact growth.