Marketing by Retailers

Tuesday 15th, December 2015

sale signs photoTake a look at today’s customer – he is evolved! He toys with a range of touch points with a retail outlet – moving with ease from websites to brick-and-mortar stores, from direct mail to mobile and social platforms, mail order catalogs, email, etc. He has no time for mass-mails – he expects a tailor-made communication that was built just for him. And the channel through which he gets the communication is as important as the message itself!

Retailers have to sit up, take notice and do something about this. Many experts agree that the best time to communicate with a customer when he is actually in your store – or near your store to entice them to come inside. And the best campaign is one that targets and communicates with the individual encouraging him to act. Since customers expect the retailer to know them individually and to treat them as individuals, the challenge is for the retailer to first identify his customer in real time and then to pick the right campaign for that particular individual which he must then set out to deliver in real time.

So how does one achieve this?

Proximity marketing through Beacons is one way. This is an indoor mobile marketing platform through which opted-in consumers can get digital content and offers from retailers and brands on their smartphones while they shop in stores. The impact that this kind of beacon marketing has on the behavior of shoppers is tremendous.

A study found that

  • 60 percent of shoppers engage with beacon-triggered content
    • 30 percent of shoppers redeem beacon-triggered offers at the point of purchase
  • 73 percent of shoppers surveyed said that beacon-triggered content and offers increased their likelihood to purchase during their store visit
    • 61 percent said they would shop more at stores with beacons and also that they would buy more because of beacon-triggered marketing messages

As you can see, this completely transforms the customer experience, increasing brand affinity and driving sales in a way never imagined before. If a retail entity wants to engage its customers and foster loyalty, adoption of cross-channel campaign management solutions that unify customer data from different channels is essential. Studies show that a consumer looking at an ad in more than one channel convert at a 24% higher rate than those who see it only on one. There has been a 137% increase in brands advertising in multiple channels – who see as much as a 300% increase in advertising ROI.

But the problem is that most retailers just mass market – with a very general campaign. A few retailers have loyalty programmes – but even these have issues! For example, loyalty programs work as long as each customer has only one account to his credit and only he uses it and not the members of his household! Or he doesn’t lend it to a friend!

There are several factors that retailers must address if they want to engage with their customers meaningfully.

Geographical location – you need to know where the customer is. If he is inside the store and is close to making his payment or closing the sale you can cross-sell or up-sell. You need to also know the geographical range of influence – or the area around a store within which one can persuade the customer through targeted offers. If a customer checks in on Foursquare or Facebook, you will know exactly where he is – and how much of an influence you can exert on him.

And how do you separate the individual from the masses? Some ways include social channel identifiers during registrations, or targeted on-boarding campaigns such as via ‘Facebook for a coupon’, among others. Linking all this with the physical store location, can give you the opportunity to market to individuals based on what they are doing and where they are doing it – at this exact moment – rather than relying on their previous transaction history to predict their next move.

Once you have this information, you need to leverage it to drive more revenue and greater profitability. The retailer can then either deliver specific campaigns through different channels – or have a unified campaign that can engage the user and track him right through the lifecycle of the campaign. And these need not be mutually exclusive. It all depends on the individual – you can either communicate with him through one channel or you can engage with him across all channels keeping the message consistent. But the important thing is that the person is identified and treated as an individual and the person is targeted in the most optimal way possible to maximise their revenue potential.

You can send offer codes that can be scanned to customers in the form of barcodes or the like, which can be automatically registered at the till or checkout. Some campaigns are designed in such a way that the offer is restricted to that person alone. The individual gets a barcode that when scanned, he gets a discount. This cannot be shared with others. Then there are those offers that are meant to be shared to maximise footfall. If an individual offer is given to someone else by the customer, it would be interesting to measure the scope of the influence of this particular individual – to see how many others they can influence. It is not just about how many transactions they make, but their ability to influence others. This then can be treated as a group – if there are sufficient numbers – and they could all get an offer, for example to have exclusive access to a store during a particular time when the store is normally closed and not accessible to anyone.

Traditional and proximity campaigns aim at getting people to come to your store – either actually or virtually, persuading them to make purchase decisions. With traditional offers, you make them go to the store – but with proximity offers, you know they are already in the store or near it.

Retailers can engage with and target the customer at the checkout counter. There is now one last chance to up-sell or help increase basket size – maybe by drawing attention to an item that the customer normally buys! Or maybe talk about some linked item that they could be interested in. Finally one needs to make sure that the customer comes back – and initiate a new sales cycle in the future as well. You could include a loyalty statement on the receipt. Or occasionally you can include some kind of offer or voucher

It is important to understand how individualized social marketing works – you need to know what type of information is effective for your company and its goals when using specific channels.to communicate with a customer. How do you engage a customer and encourage him to register or check in? Do you know what kind of campaigns would work – what would increase store visits and increase footfalls? And what are those campaigns that will transform footfalls into an increase in the checkout basket?

This is where data comes in. Big Data empowers the retailer with information about each customer so he can be treated as an individual and have tailor-made, customised offers sent to him. It gives the retailer an opportunity to engage meaningfully with him in order to build a longer relationship and loyalty. This will certainly translate into a higher ROI for the retailer and a greater satisfaction on the part of the customer.

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