Retail marketing today goes beyond a catalogue or letterbox drop, with stores using the reams of data they collect to target shoppers through highly personalised campaigns across email, mobile, social, SMS and the web.
Allen Nance, chief marketing officer at Emarsys, said marketing has become a lot more technical in recent years, as retailers are able to track consumers’ digital footprints and serve them personalised content.
“Marketers are starting to get really, really good at predicting what a shopper will buy or do next based on people similar to them and things they’ve done in the past,” Nance told RetailBiz.
Know me, show me, teach me
Nance said he views this evolution of retail marketing as three phases—know me, show me, teach me—and said the industry is currently in the second stage.
“We’ve gone through the process of marketing professionals knowing customers through their data like age, address, and purchase history,” he said.
“I feel like we’re in the second stage right now—once you know me, show me. Personalisation now is a retailer knowing who I am and showing me what I like.”
The third stage, teach me, see involve retailers beginning to influencing consumers.
“In the next five years we’ll go to the next level—teach me something I don’t know. Instead of knowing what I want based on past transactions, show me a product I might not have even thought about.
“Retailers will begin to influence what I like and don’t like based on the information they have about me.”
This level of personalisation in marketing will require retailers to collect even greater amounts of data on their customers, which could be an issue given the current climate of concern about privacy.
However, Nance said while consumers are very concerned about their privacy and data, their expectations for the retail experience are also incredibly high.
“If I asked a consumer if he or she is concerned about privacy and control of their data, 85 to 90 per cent will say yes. But if I asked them if they expect brands to personalise their experience, the same number will say yes.
“My belief—and Uber is a good example of this—is consumers will give up a lot of control and data if they believe they will get a better experience.”
Email remains number one
Nance said email remains the number one marketing channel for Emarsys’ retailers, but mobile is becoming increasingly important.
He pointed to China as an indication of where the industry is heading and said Australian retailers should focus on improving the mobile path to purchase.
“The entire world could take a look at the Asian market and learn a lot about what mobile commerce looks like in a mobile-only world.
“A lot of markets, including Australia and the US, use the term mobile-first, but my experience in Beijing is that it’s mobile-first and mobile only. Mobile is not just a channel. For example, WeChat has become how people shop, pay, interact, call…it is a mobile only strategy.”
Know your customer
The best way to compete with the likes of Amazon, along with having proprietary products the e-commerce behemoth can’t sell, is by knowing your customer, said Nance.
“The other thing you can do is create content and experiences. People go to Amazon for convenience and cost, not because it makes them feel good.
“Making people feel a certain way about your brand is the only way to compete.”
Nance said bricks-and-mortar retailers need to ensure they are collecting as much information on customers as possible. This could be as simple as plugging an iPad into a point-of-sale (POS) system and getting staff to take down information.
“Retailers are overcomplicating it… It doesn’t need to be this beacon, geo-fencing, scan my fingerprints or eye retina—it can literally be, ask who I am and what I like.
“The better you use my data to create experiences for me, the more loyal I become, and the more loyal I become, the more data I will give you. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”